It wasn’t until visiting a friend that I realized, I was missing a critical piece of cast-iron care. Her skillet looked almost brand-new, so that I asked “How do you care for you cast-iron?”. Before I dive in to care, let’s talk about what cast-iron is good for a selection.
Now that I’ve been using cast-iron for a year or more, I’m really starting to love them! Here are a few reasons why:
- Cast-iron is safer than many other modern cookware, especially non-stick pans. A well seasoned pan naturally acts like a non-stick surface.
- Cost effective: A pan can cost in the $20-40 range depending on the size. Other pans that distribute heat evenly are much more expensive.
- Multi-purpose: You can take use it on the grill, in the oven, and the stove top!
- Cast-iron gives me a grilled or rugged texture what is great for meats or browning veggetables.
- Clean-up: I’ll go more in depth about care.
If you attained a cast-iron skillet from a grandmother or estate sale, don’t go buy a new one! Cast iron improves over time and with proper use. It may just need a good scrubbing and re-seasoning. For restoration instructions, I’ll need to address this in another post.
With most anything household related, I rely on wirecutter.com. They spend hours testing multiple products and give you the best in a couple categories. Anything I buy from them has always been money well spent. Their top pick happens to be the same skillet I have, which is the Lodge Pre-seasoned 12 inch skillet. This is also a “Best Seller” item on amazon, so go ahead a put it in your cart! While your shopping, add some scrapers to make clean-up easy and a hot handle cover. I have a silicone one, and it tends to slip, so I recommend the cloth type.
Cast-Iron Starter Information
After talking to a few people, I began realizing what people just don’t know about cast-iron. To start, the term “Seasoning” is the coat of oil/fat that has polymerized onto the cast-iron itself. Without going into further detail, polymerized or polymerization is the scientific term to describe process of how the fat breaks down and bonds with the surface. This is what gives cast-iron the black color. So, if you own a pan and it’s black, you are ready to start cooking! Just add oil to your pre-heated pan and begin your cooking process.
To clean your skillet, it’s a simple 5 step process:
- Rest your skillet rest and let it cook down naturally.
- With hot water, place rinse your pan and use a scraper to remove any stubborn spots.
- Dry with a towel and then place on your stove and let it heat up for a couple minutes. Just long enough to remove any moisture, but still cool enough to touch.
- Add your choice of oil. Lightly, to both sides of the pan. I love the Trader Joe’s coconut oil for this.
- Pop your lightly greased pan, upside down, in the oven for about 10 minutes on 200 degrees. They will come out with a beautiful luster!
Steps 4 & 5 were the steps I was missing. Sure, I used oil before I cooked, but I didn’t realize it should go on after cleaning too. It’s a really important step too. Besides making your pans look good, it’s what builds up the layers and gives it the non-stick surface people keep talking about.
Cooking in Cast-Iron
I’m starting to use cast-iron for everything. This week, I browned some brauts and then move them to the oven to finish cooking internally. Re-heating fajitas is amazing! I prefer cast-iron for heating tortillas, since other pans tend to brown and smoke. Eggs do work, but it takes some getting use to. Lastly, browning fish. Just make sure you have a good metal spatula on hand.
Thank you for reading friends! For those who have cast-iron, what tips have worked for you? With cleaning or cooking? Has anyone baked bread in it? Comment below for some of our cast-iron virgins!