You have a skillet that came from your mom, and before that your grandma, and has now fallen into your hands. So how do you take care of it, use it, clean it, and get the best taste possible from it? I hope to answer some of those questions in this article.
I love my cast iron skillets, passed down from my Mom; I remember her using them to make delicious fried chicken dinners, cornbread to go with our Great Northern beans and the best popcorn. The only thing I didn’t remember is just what she did to keep those skillets nice. I do remember her drying them slowly on the stove and then coating them with some sort of grease. Now we would use a thin coat of cooking oil or a pan spray.
That is called seasoning and is important in the care and use of cast iron to prevent rust and create a natural non-stick cooking surface. Even if your inherited skillet or Dutch oven has been neglected and rusty, you can restore it by seasoning it again.
The more you use your cast iron the better seasoned it becomes. A black shiny skillet is a well-seasoned utensil and the one that will give the best flavor. Seasoning is done both for the inside and the outside of your cast iron, and even the lid must be seasoned. Here’s a hint to make your cast iron shiny again is to fry bacon and similar fatty meats. It will help it become seasoned faster and give you that shiny black non-stick interior you are working for.
Here are the steps to seasoning your cast iron utensils.
- First, wash with hot, soapy water and stiff brush.
- Rinse and dry
- Apply a thin coat of shortening both inside and out
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line oven rack with foil to catch drips
- Put cookware upside down on the upper rack of your oven and bake for one hour.
- Let the cookware cool before taking it out of the oven.
- Store it in a cool, dry place and allow air to circulate around it
- Never wash in a dishwasher.
After using your cast iron, rinse with hot water and no soap. Dry it thoroughly and coat it with a think coat of cooking oil, shortening or pan spray.
If the cookware is really in rough condition place it in a 475 degree oven for at least one hour let it cool and scrub it with a wire bristle brush. You may have to repeat this several times to get skillet back in good condition.