Feeling a little bit intimidated or undecided about the idea of owning a cast-iron skillet, could be part of those pieces of information skillet’s maintenance-related, that shape a process which you don’t know as being done much easier than you ever thought. Let’s get rid of this feeling and first of all, think about the cast-iron skillets as being the main long-lasting cooking tools that tend to get better and never ask you for a cooking trade-off as they age. However, try to give a drop from your time to your cast-iron skillet as well when it comes to taking care of it. You won’t regret it.
When we mentioned about the maintenance of the cast-iron, actually we referred to those things that one should do within the so-called seasoning process. Further, we emphasized the advantages of the seasoning, how you should treat the skillet during or after cooking’s phase for giving your cast-iron a lifetime of use.
The seasoning process should happen even if it’s about a new or an old cast-iron that was passed down to you. Any water left makes the skillet being prone to rust, that’s why this process is meant to help you always figure it out how to prevent this rust and how to clean it off.
What do you need to do for the seasoning?
You have to scrub down the skillet using a ball of steel wool and mild dish soap and get it down to its sort of base layer. Although there is a tendency for seasoning only the part that you cook with, don’t forget that by its construction, cast irons are one piece made. So you’ll want to season the entire skillet, by scrubbing along all the sides, the back of it and even the handle. Once you are pleased that all the rust or/and gunk are off, you can give it a rinse under hot water. To make sure you got every nook and cranny, you could do another quick go around using a non-abrasive scouring pad or the tough side of a sponge.
Always keep in mind that water will make your cast-iron rust, so you want it as dry as possible before storing it or moving on to the next step. For faster drying put it on your stove and heat the skillet until all of the excess water or any extra moisture boils off.
The gist of the seasoning process is to have a thin layer of oil all over your skillet that fills up all those little pores and makes from the cast-iron a smooth cooking surface.
Keep on the skillet’s surface enough oil just to be soaked into the open pores, but nothing more. Then clean the oil surplus with a paper towel and rub off as much as you can from it. Too much oil covering the skillet is not what we aim for, because this will make from the cast-iron, a very sticky surface and it won’t give you the wanted result.
In case you were wondering what oil you should use for seasoning, there are a few options such as flaxseed oil and canola oil. The former one is a pretty expensive one, but it dries harder and will give the best non-stick long-lasting seasoning, the latter one will work just fine if you don’t want to spend that much money.
After this oily part of the seasoning, you’re going to put your cast-iron in the oven on the highest temperature, which could go between 450 and 500 degrees, because the oil should go beyond its smoking point so that it starts to breakdown and be one with your cast-iron. Just wait for an hour or so- the right time having the right temperature for your skillet to not be anymore brown or sticky. You should have by now, a hard, glassy layer that makes your cast-iron skillet non-stick and you’ll love cooking with it even more.
In the cooking’s phase, take your time and preheat your skillet on low- medium heat. It may take 5 to 10 minutes to feel when your cast-iron is ready to go.
Although many people get confused about the efficiency of the seasoning process, try not having doubts as well, even when your food gets stuck to the pan. Most probably, you put cold food in a cold cast-iron skillet.
You will end up by loving to use cast-iron skillets because you can start something on the stove (sear things like meat) and finish it in the oven, having a lot more control. Just try to not move too much the food during searing, give it time to form the caramelized crust.
A good layer of seasoning will allow you to adapt your skillet to a little bit of acidic food, so don’t be afraid to roast tomatoes in it or use a bit of wine, vinegar in your sauce as well, because this won’t damage the skillet’s seasoning when is done well.
After you have finished cooking and you want to clean your skillet, have in mind to not let the cast-iron start cooling too much but neither putting it under cold water immediately after taking it from the stove. On a cold skillet, the remaining food will stick even more to it. At the same time, if you pour cold water over the hot cast-iron, you’ll have the risk of cracking its seasoning. So you want to wash the pan pretty soon after you used it and the most gentle way to clean it is with hot water, salt, and a non-metal scouring pad or rough side of your sponge.Cleaning the cast-iron in this way won’t damage its seasoning. Then dry your skillet by heating it on the stove or in the oven, make sure there is no lingering moisture that could bring some rust later on.
Do you remember about the oily part related to the seasoning that we talked about previously? It’s time for you to come back to it and redo it after cooking process, apply one more time the thin protective layer of oil. Then turn up the heat until the oil gets to the smoking point and let the cast-iron cool on the stove before you store it, and this is all.
Everything else is just about getting used to the idea of taking care through simple rules of the cast-iron skillet that will last you a lifetime. We are curious about what are your feelings now regarding the possibility of buying a cast-iron skillet.