The Art Of Cast Iron Skillet Care
Cast iron skillet Seasoning: I practice cast iron skillet seasoning. Like me maybe, you’ve experienced your food sticking to the bottom of the pot whenever you cook. Or,your food tasting burnt. Well, cast iron skillet seasoning is the answer to this problem and knowing about cleaning cast iron skillet will not only extend it’s life but, your food will not stick to the bottom nor will it have an altered taste.
A well season or cured pan will make cooking more fun, easier to clean and create better tasting food. There is a saying in the restaurant business; Hot pan – Cold oil. Meaning never put the oil in a cold pan and then heat it up. By heating the pan first and then adding the oil, then immediately the food, you’ll have much less sticking. Furthermore if you season the pan when you first purchase it, you will have even better results.
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Cast iron has a porous surface. The seasoning process serves to fill and smooth the surface of the pan. It’s true that the more you use and season cast-iron, the more non-stick the surface becomes. Here are the steps for seasoning a cast iron frying pan:
- If the pan is new, be sure any adhesive label is completely removed.
- Wash, rinse and dry the utensil
- Grease the inside surface with Crisco or other solid shortening. A medium-light coating, as you would grease a cake pan is sufficient
- Heat the oven to 350ºF, and position the oven rack in the top third of the oven
- Open your windows because there is going to be some smoke
- Rub a thin layer of shortening (like Crisco) or oil (bacon grease works great, too) all over the inner bottom and sides of the pan with a paper towel
- Place your pan upside down on the top oven rack with a rimmed baking sheet or a roasting pan underneath to catch the drippings
- Bake the pan this way for 1 hour. Then turn off the oven and allow it to cool with the pan inside
When the pan is correctly seasoned, the cooking surface should be smooth and shiny. It helps if the first few things you cook with your newly seasoned pan involve oil, try frying or sautéing something.
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To eliminate any concerns about using too much shortening, you can put the cast iron pan in the oven upside down. Put a cookie sheet or aluminum foil on the rack below to catch any drips.
A skillet or other utensil can be seasoned as often as necessary to maintain a good surface. Let’s say you’ve just made tortillas and after all that heat, the surface of your cast iron looks dry. Just reseason cast iron again before you put it away.
Until the pan is very well seasoned, either by many uses or after you repeatedly reseason cast iron skillet do not attempt to cook foods with a high acid content (tomatoes, for instance). The corrosive nature of high-acid foods will not react well to unseasoned cast-iron. Once a pan is well-seasoned, however, you can use it for just about anything. I do believe my mother could have fried plutonium in her big skillet.
Perhaps the most difficult thing for a particularly fastidious cook to do is refrain from using soap or detergent in the cleaning process. Seasoned cast-iron utensils may be cleaned very nicely with boiling water and a stiff-bristled brush. (I have a short-handled brush with stiff nylon bristles that I use only for cleaning my cast-iron skillets.) And often, say after making cornbread, I merely brush the skillet vigorously, wipe it with a damp sponge, and dry it with a paper towel. It is important to dry cast-iron utensils well after use; they will rust unless thoroughly dried. Cast-iron utensils will darken with use, turning from a steely gray, when new to dark gray or black.
After many years of use my cast-iron skillets have become old friends. Although I would never choose to replace cast iron pans if I had to (let’s say an astute kitchen thief broke in and recognized my skillets for the treasures they are), I could buy new cast iron skillets, season them well and have some new friends.
Johnny Waymire has a great free resource site, kitchenapplianceadvisor.com which contains practical and helpful information on how to purchase Kitchen Appliances that fit YOUR needs. Visit to find all the helps, brands and reviews to make your next purchase very informative. Hope this piece on cast iron skillet was of benefit to you.