How do I to use and maintain a cast iron fry pan? I have just bought one and want to know the correct way to use it and correct way to wash and store it. Thank you to anyone who replies. I very much appreciate the time you take to send me some information.
By Judy from Hamilton, Ontario
Congratulations on your purchase of cast iron. I have several pieces and they make cooking much easier. To first condition your cast iron, place your cast iron in your self cleaning oven and run it through the cleaning cycle. That will heat it up enough to get it ready to use. Once it cools down you can either spray it with a light coating of Pam (then wipe off the excess or a light coating of oil). When you are done cooking in it after your meal, clean it by placing water in it and bring it to a rolling boil and run spatula over the bottom of it to get the food off of it. Dump the water; rinse it off and place it back on the burner to dry it. Follow up with the Pam or oil each time.
From generations of cast iron users comes the following recommendation:
First, wash your cast iron skillet with detergent and water. Rinse well in hot water. Dry completely with paper towels.
Rub the skillet with olive oil inside and out. Place in the oven preheated to 475 degrees F. Turn off the heat and leave over night.
Next "never" wash your cast iron skillet with detergent again.
When you remove the skillet from the oven, wipe with a paper towel to remove excess oil. For first use, place amount of fat of whatever kind required in the skillet and allow to heat slowly. Remove skillet from heat and begin preparation of the recipe.
To clean cast iron skillets from this time forward, rinse as much food out of the pan as possible in as hot a water as possible. Pour water out of skillet. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan liberally with salt (regular old table salt). Using a square of aluminum foil, squished, scrub the skillet with the salt in it, to remove excess food. Rinse, repeat process as needed until all food is gone. Rinse in hottest water possible, dry with a paper towel.
The towel will look 'dirty.' it is not. This discoloration is the iron from the skillet which is also what makes using an iron skillet good for you. It adds iron to the food that your system needs.
Place the dried skillet on a heated burner for a few minutes with the heat "off".
Store skillet. You will "never" have to oil your skillet again if you follow this process.
And where does it come from? Remember those old movies where the "cooks" cleaned their skillets with sand from the creek side? Salt is today's sand.
It works wonderfully and the skillet will be used for generations. I have one of my great grandmother's pans. Still going strong. (05/08/2010)
I have about 14 pieces of cast iron ranging in age from 70 years old down. The hardest part is what is called seasoning your pan and that is what makes it not stick.
To season it you simply put any kind of oil or grease inside and out including the handle. Then put in your oven at 350 degrees F till hot, then turn oven off and leave pan inside. Or you can do the same thing and put it on the stove and get it just hot enough to start smoking and take off the fire and let cool down on its own.
As for cleaning, you really aren't supposed to use soap, but I do sometimes. Each time you use the pan take a paper towel with oil on it and wipe inside and out. Then put on eye of stove get it hot and let it cool. The more you do it the more the patina turns black and that is what you want for it not to stick.
If you get a thick coating of build up on the outside you just stick it in coals of a fire for a few minutes and take out. This burns off the buildup, but that takes some time to build up. Too much washing will cause it to rust. Good luck and don't be afraid to use your pan.
If you ever have to clean the buildup off just remember when you take it out of the coals you have to start over just as you are doing now. It truly is simple just sounds hard. (05/09/2010)
My granny always used iron skillets, just do the seasoning thing (oil and bake). She swore by never using steel wool (Brillo pads), or even soap on them. They had to be washed right after they were used. (05/20/2010)
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