The care and cleaning of a cast iron pan is different than that of other types of cookware. This is a guide about cleaning a cast iron pan.
You can tell me not to use soap on my cast iron pans til the cows come home. I will use it, anyway. I refuse to put away a pan that has only been scraped and wiped. To me, that borders on 'nasty'. I make country style gravy in my cast iron frying pan. I fry thinly sliced sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar, in that pan, cooking till the sugar is syrupy or caramelized. Imagine just 'wiping' that pan.
If the pan is properly seasoned, hot, soapy water will not affect that season. Almost always, a ruined season is due to overheating an empty pan while preheating it. When preheating a pan, don't allow it to get hot enough to smoke. If you see even the slight smoke, don't just turn down the heat, remove the pan from the heat.
The inside bottom of a well seasoned pan will be smooth and shiny. No scrubbing should be required. The inside walls of the pan will often be rougher. Scrub these with something no more abrasive than a plastic mesh ball or a nylon brush. Soak the pan for a while if need be. Never use steel wool, nylon pads, or powdered cleansers on a pan. When the pan is clean and rinsed, put it on a burner at medium heat. Watch carefully. The instant all water is burned way, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. With a paper towel, apply a thin film of cooking oil to the pan before putting it away.
If you have cooked fish or onions in the pan, you can rest assured the next time you scramble eggs, they will taste of fish or onions, if you only wipe the pan 'clean'. Even soap and hot water will not remove these scents.
Removing lingering scents from a pan is simple. After washing and rinsing the pan, fill with water and place on medium heat burner. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the water. Simmer two or three minutes and rinse, then back to the burner to dry. I find drying the pan with heat is more thorough, thus preventing any rust, especially on the bottom where it is most likely to appear.
It's like this, I wash my cast iron pans in hot, soapy water after every use; I always have. An egg will slide around in my pan as if the pan was coated with Teflon or T fal.
Where are those cows, anyway? It's time for their evening milking.
Last Sunday I visited the flea market they hold once a month in Punnauia. Normally I don't buy much at the flea market because it seems everyone sells items I don't need or already have. However, this weekend I found 3 very old; extremely dirty Macocotte Dutch ovens for 300 francs or $3.00 USD.
Twelve years ago I purchased a set of 4 Macocotte Dutch ovens. I paid close to 10,000 francs or $100.00 USD. The set of Dutch ovens I bought were light weight and not the original heavy duty Dutch ovens they no longer sell. Fortunately, for me the 3 Dutch ovens I purchased were the original heavy duty ones.
The Dutch ovens were dirty, had burned on food and grease blackened on the sides and bottom of the pans. I knew the value of the Dutch ovens and also knew I could clean them and restore them to new. Here is a simple way to clean and restore cast iron or Macocotte Dutch ovens.
Total Time: 3 to 4 hours
When our mother passed away, we cleaned out her home, inside of the oven we found a cast iron pot in which she had fried fish and never got a chance to clean. It is a beautiful cast iron pot which I do not want to throw away but despite my efforts in cleaning, it will not shed the fishy smell. Do any of you thrifty readers know of a way to clean smelly cast iron. It had a top to it and was covered for who knows how long.
It probably will go away with the next cooking but who wants a fish smell with steak? I rinsed it out with water, dried on the stove top over heat, added vinegar, salt (lots) and baking soda (lots) to get a foam and let it simmer til dry and cooled. Then rinsed again with water, dried on stove top over heat, then oiled and heated again. I never put soap in my cast iron.
Vinegar is good but make sure it is apple vinegar and use a 1 to 5 ration of vinegar to water, boil for a while, wipe it dry. Then a little more of the mixture. Use a paper towel to wipe it around and then a clean paper towel to dry it, never soap.
Can anyone tell me how to clean built up and burned on food from an iron skillet?
By Sandi from St Louis, MO
I have cleaned my burnt on foods from my iron skillet by filling the skillet with water to cover the burnt food, adding several tablespoons baking soda and put on simmer until water is near boiling. Turn off heat, let sit till water cools. I then take my spatula and loosen burnt food. After removing water and burnt food, I wash in hot soapy water and re-season my skillet in the broiler of my stove.
If you have a self cleaning oven, leave 1 rack in it and put the iron skillets upside down. Start self cleaning mode. After the oven has cooled down remove skillet and wash and reseason. They will look brand new when done.
Sometimes a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet needs more than just a simple scraping/wiping to get it ready for the next job. In those cases, I used to soak mine in hot water in the sink. Then I wised up and decided to boil water in it on my stove top. I believe the hotter water soaks and cleans the pan better. Just a few minutes at boil followed by brushing with coarse brush should do the job.
Then I wipe dry, finish the drying on low stove top heat. When totally dry, add a tiny dab of whatever oil you like and continue heating for another few minutes. I use a heavy-duty paper towel to burnish the oil in the pan once or twice before shutting the stove down.
My favorite skillet then gleams and I can almost see my reflection in it. The bottom is just as smooth as the proverbial 'baby's butt'.
By tomatohanger from Canton, OH
What is the best way to clean up an old iron skillet? I know you are supposed to rub oil on them after use. Is it true you do not use soap in them? My grandmother's old iron skillet has a few rusty areas. I'd like to clean that all up and start using it on a regular basis.
By Danielle from Raleigh, NC
The best way to season a cast iron skillet is to apply lard (you can get that in the super-market or Walmart) generously on both surfaces (including handles) and bake them in an oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, then lower the temperature to 200 degrees F, flip the pan upside down over an aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Repeat this again using lard. If you are seasoning a new pan or gently used pan, do it only once - that should take care of it. But seasoning an old pan (especially that had rust), you have to do it twice. Hope this helps.
Lodge manufacturers cast iron pans. I followed their instructions on how to re-season my cast iron and it came out beautiful. Check this site for other tips on cleaning and cooking.
How can the crust that develops on a cast iron fry pan be removed?
By Frank N.
I have always put my cast iron skillets in my oven when I turn on the self cleaning cycle. They come out wonderfully clean, you just have to wash off the ash with soapy water.
How do you clean iron skillets that have not been used in about 3 years and have been sitting in a closet?
I have cast iron skillets from my mother and mother-in-law. I love them! They are family treasures. If your cast iron has been sitting for a long time and not being used, treat it like you would a new one. Completely season it again. To season it: 1) Wash with warm soapy water....do not use any abrasive cleanser or cloth, then rinse really well. 2) Dry really well. 3) Rub a good quality vegetable oil all over it. 4) Put it into a preheated oven for at least one hour on 350 degrees. 5) Let cool completely in the oven. Now, your skillet should be good to go! Happy cooking! :)
I got a cast iron skillet at a yard sale. How do I season it? I put Crisco inside and out and baked it for about 20 minutes. But it still has little bumps in it and rust stains. I'd appreciate any info.
By Lynn from Big Stone Gap, VA
I am in my 70s. I remember my mama peeling potatoes and putting them in an iron skillet with water to cover and boiling them slowly for a long time. I was a little kid and I don't remember how long it took. (05/09/2010)
Sorry, she boiled the peelings not the whole potato. (05/09/2010)
I bought an old cast iron skillet at an antique shop ages ago (for a few bucks!). I had to scrub it with either a green Scotch Brite pad, or steel wool. I seasoned it "after" I got all the rust off. I've been using it for years, and it's great! (05/09/2010)
Several web sites address this problem. I used Easy-Off. I sprayed the skillet, sealed it in plastic bag, and put it outside for a couple of days. I had to repeat this after the first cleaning. Season it in hot oven (400F) with Crisco. Be sure surface is smooth, at least inside. Some of the new cast iron skillets have a bumpy surface. I was never able to get that surface non-stick. The old ones are really smooth. After use, just wipe down with water if needed, then rub with a little oil (I use Pam spray). (05/09/2010)
You can also clean it well with a drill that has a wire brush fitting. The high speed helps scrub off the "lumps and bumps" and rust. Then follow the cleaning and re-seasoning procedure. (05/10/2010)
Wire brushing works well if it is rusty and pitted and needs smoothing otherwise if you have a self cleaning oven put your cast iron in the oven when you are going to clean it, let the oven run its cycle cool down, etc. Remove pan, rub with Crisco, tallow, or lard (I like tallow) and bake at 300F for an hour adding more fat as the iron absorbs it until it won't absorb anymore. I cook on cast iron every day and grew up cooking on it and have always had good success. If you do not have a self cleaning oven than you can do the same thing with a very hot campfire. Basically you are burning off all the contaminants. Good luck (05/11/2010)