For the longest time, I thought cast iron skillets were gross. Give me a nonstick skillet any day of the week…At least you can use soap on those!
Well it turns out I was way wrong.
I bought my first cast iron skillet at Kroger, of all places, after I found a recipe that started on the stove and finished in the oven. I desperately wanted to make it for Thanksgiving (if you’re curious, it was this turnip gratin), but none of my pans would work. I happened to see a cast iron skillet on sale at the grocery store and decided to give it a shot. Oddly enough, I used it only to make the turnips at holidays (they were a huge hit) and it collected dust the rest of the year.
After moving in with The BF, I discovered his great grandma’s cast iron skillet. It was that skillet that really started my love affair with cast iron cooking. Now I use both skillets almost every day and they are by far my favorite kitchen items.
When I first started using The BF’s skillet, I was terrified of ruining it. I really didn’t need to worry, though… These are the toughest skillets known to man, I think. Still, cast iron can be a little intimidating to the uninitiated, so here are some tips on how to care for your cast iron:
Don’t use dish soap. Seriously, it will ruin the season. If you’re worried about bacteria, these skillets get screaming hot and I doubt anything could survive. Depending on what I’ve cooked, I sometimes do nothing more than wipe them down with a paper towel.
If you need a little more than a paper towel, pour some table salt in the skillet, dampen a clean wash cloth, and scrub away. Rinse, dry VERY thoroughly, and oil. You could also cut a potato in half and use that with the salt.
Every time you use a skillet, no matter how you clean it, pour some oil in and rub it in with a paper towel. Make sure to coat the entire inside with oil, but don’t leave any excess in the pan or it may go rancid. Ew.
If you see rust, don’t worry! The awesome thing about cast iron is that it’s rarely a lost cause. Simply use salt and a potato (or a damp washcloth) to scrub the rust off, then oil it. Good as new!
My Lodge skillet was preseasoned, and great – great – grandma’s skillet was incredibly well seasoned, obviously, so I’ve never had to go through the process… Check out the Lodge website for instructions, plus more tips to keep your cast iron in shape.
If you don’t have any cast iron cookware, please do yourself a favor and pick some up. Not only is it the best stuff ever, but you get a good arm workout when you cook with it!