Caring For Your Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron skillets hold a special place in our hearts. Their durability and versatility make them it perfect for cooking delicious dinners no matter the day. When properly cared for, cast iron skillets can last for generations. The long-standing debate over how to properly clean and store it can be frustrating, but we’ve put together a quick guide on how to do it.
Use Soap Only Once
The only time you would clean your cast iron skillet with soap is after you buy it. Use mild, soapy water and a stiff brush to gently clean. After that initial wash, never use soap again. It will remove the seasoning that you’ve worked hard to achieve. And don’t even think about putting it in the dishwasher!
Season Your Pan
The most important part of caring for your cast iron skillet. The seasoning on a skillet is oil or fat baked into the iron which creates a non-stick coating. It’s what gives your dinners that nice, cozy flavor that warms your heart.
To season your cast iron, preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, just long enough to heat, then remove. Take a cloth or paper towel and coat the pan with about 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening, bacon fat or lard. Don’t use vegetable oil. It can create a sticky coating. Place the skillet back in the oven for another 10 minutes then take it out and pour out the excess fat or shortening.
Next, flip the skillet upside down and bake it on the top rack for about an hour. You can place foil underneath the pan to catch any drippings. After the hour is up, your skillet is seasoned and ready to cook! Repeat this process often to keep it seasoned.
Cleaning Your Cast Iron
Once you’ve cooked a tasty dinner in your newly seasoned skillet, it’s time to clean it. Wash your skillet while it’s still warm in hot water with a stiff non-metal brush or sponge to remove any cooking residue. If there are tough bits stuck to the pan, you can add salt to the still warm skillet to help remove the bits.
Once clean, it’s very important to completely dry your skillet. If not properly dried, your skillet will become prone to rust. After drying well with a towel, place the skillet on the stove top at low heat for five to 10 minutes. Next, take a paper towel and wipe the skillet with shortening or fat and heat for another five to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and remove any excess fat with a paper towel.
Storing Your Skillet
Store your cast iron skillet in a dry place. Make sure it is bone dry before storing it. Rust will always be the enemy of your seasoning. Placing a paper towel or rag in your skillet will help prevent any moisture from getting in. If you don’t have a dry place to store it, hang it!