Ever wondered why your cornbread, fried squash, fried okra, fried chicken etc., doesn’t taste quite like grandma’s or your mothers. If so, it might be because you are not using the right pan? Nothing says “old timey” cooking quite like the use of a cast iron skillet. Cast iron heats evenly, retains it’s heat, and if properly seasoned it is virtually non-stick.
Here is how to season a cast iron cooking vessels (for those who don’t already know):
What You Need
A stiff brush
Clean, dry cloth
Vegetable oil or shortening (or other oil of your choice)
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Wash the skillet with warm, soapy water and a stiff brush. Cast iron should not normally be washed with soap, but it’s fine here since the pan is about to be seasoned.
3. Rinse and thoroughly dry the skillet.
4. Using a soft, cotton cloth.. apply a thin coat of vegetable oil or melted shortening to the inside and outside of the skillet. Vegetable oil and shortening are the most commonly recommended oils used for seasoning, but according to Lodge, you can use any oil of your choice.
5. Place the skillet upside down on the oven’s center rack.
6. Place a sheet of aluminum foil below the rack to catch any drips.
7. Bake for an hour.
8. Turn off heat and allow to the skillet to cool completely before removing from oven.
Additional Notes: A seasoned skillet is smooth, shiny, and non-stick. You’ll know it’s time to re-season if food sticks to the surface or if the skillet appears dull or rusted.
Here are some tips on cleaning your cast iron cookware (NEVER use soap):
1. Clean the skillet immediately after use, while it is still hot or warm. Avoid soaking the pan or leaving it in the sink, or it may rust.
2. Wash the skillet by hand using hot water and a cloth or stiff brush. Avoid using the dishwasher, soap, or steel wool, as these may strip the pan’s seasoning.
3. To remove stuck-on food, scrub the pan with a paste of coarse kosher salt and water. Stubborn food residue may also be loosened by boiling water in the pan.
4. Thoroughly towel dry the skillet or dry it on the stove over low heat.
5. Using a cloth ( I don’t use paper towels because they can leave bits of fiber in the oil) apply a light coat of vegetable oil or melted shortening to the inside of the skillet. Some people also like to oil the outside of the skillet. ( I don’t) Buff to remove any excess.
6. Store the skillet in a dry place.
Using soap, steel wool, or other abrasives is not the end of the world, but you may need to re-season the skillet. If the skillet is well-seasoned from years of use, a small amount of mild soap may be used without doing much damage – just be sure to rinse it well and oil it after drying.
Remove rust using steel wool or by rubbing it with half a raw potato and a sprinkle of baking soda (seriously, it works!). Again, it may be necessary to re-season the pan after cleaning.