Keep Cast Iron Pans In Good Condition Season Cast Iron Pan
Iron skillets can last a lifetime giving your family and your descendents cookware that never wears out if properly treated. First you must season your cast iron skillet. I is easy and only takes a few minutes.
Some stainless steel cookware salesmen will tell you their pans are better because they don’t leave a residue on your food. That residue they are talking about is iron, the same iron we have in our blood.
Iron cookware is a healthy choice especially for women who need more iron in our diet.
Cast iron skillets are not really hard to maintain once you know how to care for them. I personally think they are easier and they last forever if you don’t let them rust.
Here are the basic rules to season a cast iron skillet:
How to season an iron skillet
To season cast iron skillet it will need to be prepared. If your pan was owned by your mom, grandmother or other relative that knew the proper care procedures, you may not need to do this depending on where it was stored before you inherited it.
I've seen some that came out of a shed and looked pretty nasty. They can still be saved you'll just have to clean them up.
1) Clean with dish soap like you would any other new piece of cookware. This is the only time you will ever use soap on your pan. Do not air dry.
2) Dry with a paper towel and then grease with shortening, oil or lard inside and out. Animal fat works best but vegetable shortening or oil will do. You don’t want to use your dishtowel to dry your pan because of the dark residue that will stain your cloth. If you don’t want to use paper towel, use an old clean rag you don’t mind getting spots on.
3) Place on a baking pan with sides to catch the drippings and put in oven on low heat, about 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about fifteen minutes. You are only drying the moisture; the shine from the oil will still be there.
Let cool and then wipe excess grease from pan and store in cupboard
Cleaning your cast iron skillet
After you’ve used your cast iron skillet only use hot water and steel wool to clean it. Do not use soap, as this will remove seasoning. The steel wool will clean away any food debris giving a smooth surface. Put on stovetop burner on medium heat until thoroughly dry. No need to use a cloth, just put on the stove top wet and the fire will dry the pan. The heat from the stove will kill any germs so disinfectant detergents are not necessary.
Never put your iron skillet in the dishwasher.
The humidity and harsh detergents will cause your pan to rust.
Don’t air dry.
This will also cause your pan to rust. You want to dry it as quickly as possible. Drying with a towel won’t get all the water. Iron has tiny pockets you can’t see with the naked eye and moisture can sit in those areas causing rust which will eat away your pan.
Rust on iron skillet
If you or someone else has let moisture sit on your pan and rust has developed you can still remedy this problem. Take steel wool and clean under hot water scrubbing away any orange residue. If it’s just a small spot on the inside of the pan you can dry on the stovetop as usual then rub the inside down well with shortening or oil. You still may get a bit of rust on your paper towel as you condition with grease, this is okay; the shortening will protect it much like lotion protects your skin.
Occasional touch ups
If you cook meats that have fat like hamburger meat or sausage your pan will retain the seasoning but if you cook food that isn’t greasy you will occasionally need to give it a rub down with shortening to condition the metal.
If you live in a humid climate this will need to be done more frequently, inside and out. Moisture in the air will cause rust to develop. Look for signs of rust occasionally especially if you haven’t used your cookware for a while. Just sitting in a cupboard in a humid home can cause your cookware to tarnish. Iron loves to be cooked with so the more you use it the better it gets.