Cast iron pans are a great way to give your food the perfect sear, contain sauces and drippings, or even just cook items that would otherwise fall through the grates on your grill. They are known for being practically indestructible, and they can last for a lifetime and then some, but you’ll still need to take care of your cast iron skillet properly with these tips.
Skip The Suds
When you first bring home your new or used cast iron skillet, it’s okay to wash it with soap, but one of the most important tips you’ll hear from any cast iron owner is to never use soap to clean them. Soap will remove the layer of seasoning on cast iron pans or skillets, and it exposes the pan oxidization, which will lead to rust and cause food to stick. From time to time, you may need to clean your pan with soap, but as soon as it’s dry, you’ll need to re-season it. Another key thing to remember is that you should never, ever put your cast iron skillet in the dishwasher.
Although cast iron pans are great for cooking flavourful dishes, the seasoning we are referring to has nothing to do with herbs and spices, but it’s one of many essential tips to follow if you want your skillet to last for a long time.
Seasoning your pan involves placing it in the oven at 300° F for ten minutes, then removing it and carefully coating it with a layer of oil or fat, ideally vegetable shortening or lard, just never use vegetable oil. You then place your coated cast iron skillet back in the oven for another ten minutes to allow the oil or fat to bake into the skillet. Remove the pan, pour out the excess fat or oil, and then turn off the oven and leave the pan on the top rack for an hour as it cools.
Repeat this process regularly, or whenever it appears that your pan could be drying out.
This falls on our list of tips for caring for your cast iron skillet because it will keep your seasoning layer intact and keep your pan looking its best. Cast iron skillets are extremely susceptible to rust, and although they can be brought back to life, it’s easier to avoid the rust in the first place. We recommend drying the pan completely with a rag or paper towel and then leaving it out in the open air to allow the remaining moisture to evaporate.
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