After years of coveting fancy, expensive cookware, I’m happily back to the basics of using a small collection of cast iron cookware for a good portion of our home cooking. There’s nothing quite like the timeless, rustic beauty of cast iron and it’s super-versatile. Use cast iron for making scrambled eggs, searing delicate fish, making jams and preserves, and for serving the best cast iron skillet cornbread you’ll ever eat!
There’s much to love about cast iron cookware. Properly seasoned cast iron is a very effective non-stick surface that emits no harmful chemicals like many commercial non-stick pots and pans can. A cast iron skillet can go from cooktop to oven since it can withstand high temperatures with ease. It’s also a relative bargain because high quality, pre-seasoned cast iron skillets are affordable and they last indefinitely. In fact, when cared for properly, these skillets can be handed down through generations of cooks.
Properly seasoning, or re-seasoning your cast iron cookware is key to its longevity, and it’s easy!
- The only time you should use soap on your cast iron cookware is the first time you wash it or if you have an older skillet that is in need of re-seasoning or has rust on it. Otherwise, do not use soap since it will strip off the seasoning.
- Once your skillet is clean as a whistle, dry it thorough with a clean towel. Using a paper towel, rub a generous amount of olive oil or vegetable shortening on the entire inside and outside surfaces of the pan.
- Place the skillet upside down on a baking sheet and put it in an oven that’s been preheated to 325° for one hour. Turn off the oven, and allow it to cool inside the oven to remove all residual moisture. Your skillet is now ready to use!
- For tough, stuck on food, clean your skillet using a soft sponge and kosher salt. Rinse with warm water.
- Never leave your cast iron skillets to air dry. Always thoroughly dry them, inside and out, after each use.
- Avoid the use of metal spatulas as they can damage the seasoning.
- A good seasoning builds up over time. Frying high-fat foods like bacon (!!!) in your skillet can help season it.
When you learn how to take care of your cast iron cookware, it will look great, perform at its best, and last a lifetime. When your skillet is properly seasoned and in good condition, it will be black and shiny and food cooked on it will release very easily.
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