How to Make Cast Iron your BFF in the Kitchen
The cast iron skillet is not only durable and versatile (not to mention wildly inexpensive) it can become your new BFF in the kitchen and help you create amazing Lean and Green, Low Carb meals with ease!
Maybe you already have and adore your cast iron skillet(s). Or maybe, like many, you've got one waaayyyy in the back of the cabinet collecting a little rust & you're afraid to use it, but keep it around because you know it's got some value.
Let me set the record straight- nothing, and I mean nothing will create a crust, char and flavor like a well-seasoned cast iron pan. Once you get your pan "up and running" or seasoned as they call it, a little TLC will keep it like new and cooking up a storm for years to come.
If your skillet is really rusty:
- Scour the pan really well. Get it wet, add some soap and then scrub it really well with steel wool. Scrub in small circles starting with the rustiest area first and then continuing with the entire pan. Repeat until the original black iron shows through.
- Rinse it well. Once all the rust is gone, scrub it again with a soft soapy sponge. If you see any rust left, gently buff it off with the scrubby side of the sponge.
- Dry with a clean rag. And I do mean a rag because you're going to want to throw it out when you're done!
- Place the pan in a 325 degree oven for 5 minutes. This will thoroughly dry it out and get it ready to be seasoned.
If your skillet just needs a tune up
- If there's any rust, use some soapy steel wool to scrub the spots and prep the pan for seasoning as in the directions above.
- Once dry, drop a tablespoon of oil (vegetable is fine) in the pan and spread around with your fingers (best method) or a paper towel (ok method but the towel soaks up a lot of the oil). Make sure to do the outside and the handle too.
- Pat it down by wiping off the excess oil with a paper towel- but be sure to keep the skillet lightly greased.
- Place the skillet in a 350 degree oven, upside down on the center rack for about an hour. It's a good idea to put a cookie sheet or aluminum foil on the rack below the pan for easy clean up.
- After an hour, turn the oven off and leave the pan inside for an hour or so until it is cool. (I usually do this in the evening & leave the pan in with the oven off overnight).
- This process allows the oil to bake into the pours and create a nonstick finish.
- Repeat the process a second time and you'll have a super smooth surface that's as non-stick as they come!
A few tips to keep your pan like new:
- Clean your pan immediately after use with hot water and soap. It's a common misconception that you should not use soap. You should, but use a soft cloth and don't scour the inside of the pan or it will disrupt the seasoning layer.
- Wait until the pan is completely cool before washing. If you put a hot pan in cool water, it can crack.
- Don't let water hang around in your pan. Meaning, soaking is ok, but keep it to a minimum. Waterh & Iron = Rust!
- Be careful when cooking anything acidic in your pan. First, make sure it is well-seasoned. When cooking things like tomatoes and citrus, clean well and re-season with oil immediately after use as acid can remove the coating AND impart an iron flavor to your dishes if not properly cared for.