Before I get into the TLC part, I just want you to know that I believe that everyone should own a cast iron skillet. I’m such a believer that I proudly own two; a large one that I purchased and a smaller, cute one that belonged to my husband’s grandma. These pans can so durable that the can last almost forever, if you take good care of it. This is why so many are passed along from generation to generation.
You can cook, fry, sear and bake everything, and I mean everything in your pan. I’m talking vegetables, meat, fish, pancakes, and corn bread. And these are just some examples! No matter what you put in it, keep in mind that because of the iron, it will heat unevenly. You can help the cooking process by moving the skillet around the burner to assure that you’re getting most of the inside of the pan hot. In no time, you’ll get the hang of it.
A cast iron skillet should not be treated as a fragile, collector’s item. Use it! In fact, the more you use it, the better seasoned it becomes and the better it will work for you, as long as you give it the TLC it deserves between jobs.
Here’s what I mean about the TLC:
• After each use just get a sponge and wash it with warm water while the pan is still warm. Don’t use soap and don’t put in the dishwasher. You want it to remain seasoned with a light film of oil.
• If you can’t get the pan clean of stubborn, stuck food after the warm water treatment, you can pour Morton’s kosher salt into the pan. Then rub the salt into the bottom and inside edges with a paper towel.
• If, after the salt treatment you still have some food residue, simply boil some water in the pan. Empty the water and dry the pan. Next, rub a just a little vegetable oil (you’re not re-seasoning it, your just trying to get it clean) in the pan and place it over a flame for a couple of minutes. When it starts to smoke, remove the pan and with a pair of tongs and balled up paper towel (I don’t want you to burn yourself), remove the excess oil. Then store you’re clean pan in a cool place
As you can see, cleaning the pan, even after a good workout, is pretty simple.
There may come a time that you have to re-season a cast iron to remove the rust. This is an easy task, too. Just brush off the rust and wash the pan with warm, soapy water. (Never, ever use soap regularly on your cast iron skillet and when you do make sure to follow through with these other steps.) Dry it well. Then, using a paper towel, rub vegetable oil on the inside, outside and the handle. We’re not done yet. Next, place the pan upside down on a foil-lined oven rack and bake. After it’s nice and hot, remove it and again, using a pair of tongs and balled up paper towel, remove the excess oil, leaving a film. If you need to repeat the process, go ahead.
Cast iron skillets are usually reasonably priced (approximately $25), especially when you take into consideration how versatile they are and how long they can last. For me, the investment is well-worth it because I love to cook with one and I love the way the food tastes when I sit down to enjoy it.