One of the most versatile pans I have in my kitchen is my cast iron skillet. I can get it scorching hot to achieve a perfect sear on my meats. I can take from stove-top to oven with no worries. I can even bake in it. Whenever I am in the kitchen, it is my go-to pan. I love it and recommend that every home cook have at least one cast iron skillet. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but I have found a standard 10 – 12 inch pan to be the most versatile. There isn’t much that you can’t do with that pan. However, caring for a cast iron skillet is a little different than what you do with most pans.
For starters, cast iron skillets don’t come with a non-stick surface, that’s a step that must be done by you. This really simple process is called seasoning the pan. The best way to create a non-stick surface on your cast iron skillet is to evenly spread a thin layer of vegetable oil onto the surface of the pan and put it a pre-heated 350 degree oven for an hour. After an hour, turn off the oven and let the skillet cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you’re done. It’s seasoned.
Now that your pan is seasoned, you’ll need to take steps to ensure that it stays seasoned. The most important factor is how you clean your pan. Cast iron should be cleaned while still warm with hot water only. If there are stubborn food particles that won’t come off with just hot water, try scrubbing with a mild abrasive, like kosher salt. if you must, a few drops of liquid dish soap will work, but you will probably have to re-season your pan, as the soap will most likely strip away your non-stick surface. Whatever you do, don’t let your pan soak in water. This will most certainly strip your pan’s non-stick properties and could lead to rusting. Finally, once your pan is clean, wipe it dry right away and store with a paper towel over the top to prevent dust or other particles from dropping into the pan.
That’s it. Keep these simple steps in mind when cooking with cast iron and you’re set. Cast iron skillets have been around forever and with proper care, you can enjoy yours for just as long!