Caring for your cast iron skillet

I always think there is something soulful about cast iron pans. You know the good old ones have a history and the new ones well maybe those are getting ready to hold your kitchen stories.

No matter how old your cast iron pan is, be prepared for it will bring you years and years of great cooking….even if you misuse it along the way. If you are thinking of purchasing your first cast iron pan, do it…don’t wait. You will be so glad you did. A 10.25-inch cast iron skillet may be the only skillet you will ever need in your kitchen.

The benefits of cooking with cast iron include quick pre-heating and outstanding temperature control on high or low settings. And, cast iron is capable of withstanding much higher temperatures than other types of pans without warping over time.

Most new cast iron cookware comes from the factory direct and are all pre-seasoned using vegetable oil.

But those pans will still benefit from correct care. Here’s how.

  • Rinse your cast iron cookware with hot water after cooking.
  • If there is any stuck-on food, use a stiff brush or a Chainmail Scrubber (rustproof stainless steel that won’t damage the seasoning) to remove it.
  • Salt and burlap will also do the trick.
  • Do not use soap as it will break down the oil-based seasoning.
  • After rinsing. Dry the cookware immediately inside and out. If any water remains on the surface, rust will happen…even with a seasoned piece.
  • While the piece is still warm from being washed, use cooking spray or a paper towel soaked with melted vegetable shortening to give the interior and exterior surfaces of the pan a light coating of oil.
  • Store your cast iron cookware in a cool, dry place. If the piece has a lid, folded paper towels should be placed between the lid and pot to allow air to circulate.

Sometimes you need to re-season your cookware. Here’s how.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove one oven rack and move the other two so they are in the two lowest positions.
  • Wash the cookware in hot, soapy water, using a stiff brush to remove any stuck-on food. If the pan has surface rust, remove it using fine steel wool or an abrasive soap pad such as Brillo or S.O.S.
  • If a piece is really rusted, you’ll need to take it to a machine shop to have it sandblasted. Then you will need to re-season it immediately, rinse and towel-dry the pan.
  • Now place a large sheet of aluminum foil on the lowest oven rack. Set the pan upside down on the rack above it. Bake for 1 hour.
  • If the piece has a lid, set it beside the pan. Close the oven door, turn off the oven, and leave until the pieces cool off, then store.

This article was written and originally post by Paulette Bruce. She taught me how to truly appreciate a cast iron pan.

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