I have a weakness for cast-iron skillets. When we bought our house the previous owner took all the firewood that was stacked in the shed but left behind an entire collection of cast iron. I guess he had a weakness for firewood. My cast-iron skillets hang in the fireplace so they can get pretty dusty. I try to take them down on occasion to give them a good cleaning and re-season them. Now that doesn’t mean that I stick them into a sink with soapy water, or go at them with steel wool. Nope, you don’t want to do that! Caring for cast iron is really easy once you know what NOT to do.
If you have a new cast-iron skillet, before you use it you have to season it. I don’t mean to sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper but rather to lightly coat the skillet in cooking oil and place it upside down on your oven rack. Bake it for 1 hour at 350 degrees. It’s a good idea to line the bottom of your oven with foil just in case you happened to use a little too much oil and it starts to drip. Another good idea is to make sure you have good ventilation like an open window or a door just in case you aren’t listening to me when I say to lightly coat the skillet in cooking oil. What may happen is that your oven will fill up with smoke causing the kitchen and neighboring rooms to fill with smoke. Then your smoke alarms will go off, which will alert your alarm company, who will dispatch the fire department AND the police department. Then your hubs will come home in the middle of all the shenanigans and give you that look. Ya know the one? Yep, that one. So what you do next is you just take that nicely seasoned skillet, turn around and make him up a big old pan of cornbread!
After you are all done eating your cornbread you will need to clean the cast-iron skillet. This is the tricky part. If it was properly seasoned it shouldn’t be too hard to do. You simply fill it with hot water and wipe it with a sponge, then dry it immediately so it won’t rust. Do not use soap or steel wool. If your cornbread is misbehaving and wants to stay in the skillet you can use some coarse salt to act as a mild abrasive and on occasion, if you must, a drop or two of mild dish soap. Just promise me that you will never let your cast-iron skillets soak in the dish pan and that you will always dry them off after. Thank you. Once they are clean just put some cooking oil on a paper towel and rub them down again. This will keep them from rusting and help to reinforce the non-stick coating.
Cast iron trivia:
- Never boil water in cast iron. It will cause it to rust.
- It takes longer to heat but retains that heat better than other pans.
- It holds the temperature more consistently.
- Cast iron increases the iron content in food.
- It is heavy!!
I also have a weakness for copper.