How to Care For Your Cast Iron Skillet
Hey there! Happy Friday, friends.
Today, I am going to talk about the wonders of the cast iron skillet. Did you know that I cook just about everything in one of these things? It's my number one kitchen tool, and I don't think I could live a day without it. If you are the type of person, who like myself, enjoys a minimum amount of tools and gadgets in your kitchen and is just looking for the perfect one to get the job done, then the cast iron skillet is your new BFF. I cook the normal things in it, like eggs and hash, but there are also so many other wonderful ways to put it to use. Roasted chicken is another favorite of mine, or cinnamon rolls, or even an apple pie! I am also really addicted to making herb breads and cornbread in it, which I have not shared here on the blog, but I know it will be coming in the future.
There are so many who are hesitant about taking on the cast iron friend because they think it's too much work to use. And truth be told, after listening to others talk about their cast iron horror stories, I was beginning to feel the same. We took on using our skillet daily about five years ago now, and it's really just the best thing in the world; it's not difficult to care for either. We do an overhaul clean of ours about twice a year, if even that, and it just keeps on giving back no matter what. The other great thing about cast iron skillets? They cook iron right into your food. It's not a whole lot, but it's still a pretty awesome thing!
I think the most rewarding thing about cast iron is that it can be repaired no matter how rusted it gets. The pan I am refreshing in today's blog post is a tiny 6 inch skillet that I use for desserts or cornbread. We have a large skillet that we use for larger meals and for making breakfast, but this pan works great for a short order of cinnamon rolls. In fact, I made some cinnamon rolls in here a couple of months ago to take over for wine night at my cousin's house. When I left, I forgot to take it home, and it ended up being left there for quite some time. Like most dishes that get left behind, I forgot about it, and when the fam returned it to me, they felt awful for letting it rust. And I felt awful that they felt bad, because it's not a big deal to fix! Learning how to care for your cast iron skillet is super easy and only takes a small chunk of time in the span of how much use you can get out of it afterwards. This is something that you should do for a brand new skillet as well as one that has some damage.
First things first, you'll want to know that cast iron skillets are made from one piece of iron. That means that the entire pan has to be seasoned when you are preparing it; the outer edges, bottom, and handle. We are treating this as your very first time seasoning the skillet, which will begin with a good rub down. You'll want to grab a decent amount of salt, I'd say about a quarter cup at most, and mix it with a few tablespoons of water to create a paste. With either a pan brush or steel wool, rub down the skillet, all over, until you reach the base layer. This will be essentially rubbing off any rust or even the protective coating from when you purchased it. Rinse with hot water and then scrub again with a nonmetallic brush or sponge.
After you have scrubbed the pan to your liking, dry it with a towel. Over a stovetop, heat the pan and watch as the remaining water evaporates away. This will ensure that the pan does not rust and dries quickly. You'll want the pan to be completely dry before taking on the next step. Heat the pan on medium/high heat for about ten minutes.
When the pan has been rid of any excess moisture, rub it with a thin layer of oil. I usually use olive oil. It's said that canola oil works the best, but I don't really love using that in cooking (since it's a bunch of processed vegetable oils all mixed together). Olive oil works well, and you can look into other types of oils that may help create a longer lasting coating! Pour a small drop, about half a teaspoon, of oil into the skillet and wipe it down with an old rag. I love to use our flour sack towels for this, as they just absorb things really well and get the job done the best! Coat the entire pan like you did before.
Once everything is covered, you'll want to do another quick wipe down to make sure that you remove any excess oil. If you leave too much oil on the pan, then it may become sticky. Rubbing the cast iron down with oil will create a wonderful nonstick layer for when you cook!
Now you'll want to bake it! Heat your oven to 450 degrees F and place the skillet upside down on the middle rack. This will allow the oil to bond with the iron and create that nonstick layer. Let it cook for about an hour and then turn off the heat, leaving your skillet to cool off inside the oven.
Your end result will look something like this! It's really quite simple and just takes a few hours of your time. These pans are so beautiful and can be passed down for generations. I hope that I can pass down my skillets to my son and my grandkids. What a wonderful present! Especially if our recipes stick around for that long. Isn't genealogy just amazing? I wish we had had more useful things like this passed down from my ancestors before! It's interesting what every generation holds onto and thinks dear.
Now that your skillet is seasoned, you'll want to keep it clean. After you cook and your skillet has cooled enough that you can handle it but not too cold, you can wash it in the sink. Do the same thing as before where you scrubbed it with salt, but only on the inside. This step is only necessary if your pan is really coated in food. If it just has some oil, I usually just rinse it a bit with hot water. Afterwards, heat it over the oven again to remove the extra moisture, and then rub down with oil on the inside of the skillet. No need to rub down the outside again! Heat the oiled pan over the stove until the oil is smoking. That's it! Your skillet is clean and ready to use again.
What's your favorite meal to cook in your cast iron skillet?