Cast iron sometimes gets a bad reputation as hard to care for. If you’ve never used a cast iron skillet before, rest assured: once you’ve done a few simple first maintenance steps, cast iron is even easier than caring for a special nonstick coated skillet.
Before you use your cast iron skillet for the first time, it needs to be seasoned. Seasoning is a process of creating a natural non-stick surface, and it’s very easy. All you have to do is cover the entire skillet (including the handle and the outside) with cooking oil, and bake it for an hour at 350 degrees. It probably won’t emerge with the shiny look that it will develop later, but that’s okay. Simply dry it with a paper towel when it cools, and you’re ready to go.
As you use your cast iron skillet, you can season it as often as you like. If you notice that food has begun to stick more often, you see rust on your skillet, or your skillet is showing some scratches in the seasoned surface, scrub the old seasoning off with steel wool and follow the same process to re-season.
You should not use soap on a cast iron skillet, and it’s not best to set it to “soak”. Instead, it’s best to rinse a cast iron skillet or pot with hot water right after cooking. In most cases, this is all you need. Wipe dry with a paper towel and you’re done. However, if there is some burnt food stuck to the skillet, you may need to use a bit of coarse salt or a non-metal brush to scrub it away.
Storing your cast iron is very easy. If you want to keep dust off the surface, use a paper towel to cover it; but otherwise, you don’t need anything to protect your skillet from bumps or scratches. The seasoning is durable enough to withstand being stacked.
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