How To Properly Care For Your Cast Iron Skillet

July 12th, 2021 by

Empty cast iron skillet with tea towel, over old wood background.

While stainless steel and non-stick pans come and go, it’s not uncommon to find a cast iron skillet in the kitchen that has been there through thick and thin. Thanks to their durability, cast iron pans are often heirloom tools that can last for generations ­– if they’re properly cared for. Whether you’ve just bought a brand-new skillet or you’re working with a piece of family history, these steps will help you take good care of your cast iron.

Initial Cleaning

If your skillet is factory-fresh or gathering dust in a cupboard, it could use a thorough cleaning before you introduce it to your stove. While conventional wisdom warns against cleaning your cast iron with dish soap, it’s acceptable to use a little bit once or twice a year along with hot water. This will make sure it’s clean enough for cooking, but once the pan is seasoned, you’ll want to avoid soap because those suds can undo the seasoning process. For routine cleaning, just use warm water, and when food is hard-stuck on the metal, scrubbing with oil and salt can help you break it loose before a more thorough rinse. When finished, make sure your pan is dry before you put it away!

Seasoning the Iron

Seasoning cast iron is the process of making it non-stick by introducing oil into its porous surface. Before you start cooking meals with the skillet, you’ll need to rub cooking oil all over the ban, then bake it. Experts often recommend flaxseed oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil, while you can achieve workable results with nearly any readily-available option. Then, the pan must bake upside down (put foil on the rack underneath) in your oven at a high heat for an hour. When times’ up, shut the oven off and leave the pan inside to cool completely. After this process is complete, you can strengthen the seasoning every time you cook by cooking with oil. To protect the seasoning, clean the pan right after use and don’t let it soak. You should also use soft utensils like rubber or wood, as metal can scratch it.

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