I absolutely LOVE my cast iron skillets! I LOVE THEM!! I have SIX of them – various sizes, shapes and uses. You might wonder – “what in the world do you use 6 cast iron skillets for?” My answer – “everything”. I do have a couple of stainless steel skillets – but I almost never use them. I guess if I cooked fish or other seafood – then I would use them for that – but no worry about that around here.
I started using cast iron skillets after my first daughter was born. Due to some scary birth circumstances, my blood was VERY low after her birth. The doctor put me on iron tablets, but that didn’t work very well for me. When I went back to work 8 weeks later, my blood counts were still extremely low and I was more tired than I should have been. One of my very elderly patients who had been a midwife during the times before a nursing license was necessary told me, “Oh, honey, don’t take those iron pills – just cook absolutely everything you eat in a cast iron skillet – that is all you need, you will feel better quickly, you will see”. I can’t say if it was the iron skillets that saved me or not – but I can tell you that I did exactly as she said. I made soup and everything else in a cast iron skillet. My blood levels returned to normal and I haven’t had a problem since.
In discussing cast iron cookware with people I have discovered that people often think, “cast iron sticks too badly, I like using a non-stick skillet”. I have to argue that nothing could be further from the truth. My cast iron skillets are as slick and non-stick as any skillet you could show me. The trick is keeping the skillet seasoned. Its not a difficult task and if cared for properly – your skillets should rarely have to be seasoned. Besides, every non stick skillet I have ever seen develops scratches after it is used – where does the stuff that you scratched off go? I would hate to think about eating that stuff.
To care for your iron skillet many will say, “don’t wash it – only wipe it out”. Honestly, I can’t bring myself to do that. I do put hot soapy water in the sink, dip the skillet in and work quickly. Using a very light hand I wash the skillet with a washcloth and that is usually all that is necessary. Then rinse quickly and dry with a soft cloth. If something does stick – scrub, very lightly with a pot scrubber, wash, rinse and dry. My skillets hang on a hook in the kitchen when not in use. I do live with someone, no names mentioned, uhh-hmm <throat clearing> who scrubs the heck out of the skillets and everything else with a wire scrubber. That is probably why I have to re-season my skillets more frequently than I should.
Its not a hard job though. Nice job for a day like today – a slow Sunday afternoon, Pandora playing while I am making Chicken Stock and seasoning my skillet. It’s a lovely time – just come on over!
The skillet in this picture badly needs reseasoning – see how dry and pale the pan is? It has started sticking and needs to be seasoned.
Just follow the steps below…
- Clean the skillet well by using a pot scrubber or wire brush. Then wash in hot soapy water. Dry well.
- Cover the bottom rack in your oven with aluminum foil.
- Preheat oven to 350
- Using shortening (or any other oil of your choice – vegetable oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil – absolutely your choice – I use shortening because it’s what I have found works best in my kitchen. I don’t really use it for anything else in my kitchen). Anyway, using shortening and a paper towel, wipe a thin but visible coat of oil all over the inside of the pan.
- Put the skillet in the oven on the rack just above the one you have covered with aluminum foil (drips fall on the aluminum foil).
- Keep skillet in the oven at 350 for an hour.
- Turn the oven off and allow the skillet to cool completely in the oven.
- When cool, remove and wash lightly with hot water. Dry completely. Your skillet is seasoned and ready to use!