If you love to cook, or perhaps simply love to watch other people cook, you’ll know that cast iron is king in the kitchen. Cast iron has a magic to it that simply makes food taste better. Plus, when you consider its longevity (it’ll last you decades!) cast iron is quite simply, to me, a kitchen essential. However, the humble cast iron pot or skillet does require a little bit of TLC to ensure its endurance in your kitchen, and it’s important to know how to care for cast iron. They have their own set of rules as compared to other pots and pans, though nothing too laboursome or scary – the extra care means a lifetime of delicious cooking.
You’ll notice many of my recipes are presented in cast iron pots, pans and skillets – this isn’t just for styling! Those recipes have been lovingly prepared in cast iron. It’s my favourite way to cook, and when compared to other types of pots and pans an increasingly affordable option.
So without further ado, let’s have a look at the best way to care for cast iron – from how to season cast iron, to cleaning and storage. All of these tips, tricks and pieces of advice will relate to any cast iron piece that isn’t enamelled, however for simplicities sake, I will be referring to Skillets.
How to Care for Cast Iron
Cleaning your Skillet
If your skillet is new – whether it still has the sticker on it, was found at a car boot sale, or handed down from a family member – it’s important to give it a bit of a clean prior to its first use. There’s no complexity in this step. Simply use warm soapy water, and a bit of a scrub (if required to remove any rust or dirt).
After using your cast iron skillet, it’s always easier to wash when warm. When warm, any bits of food can be easily scrubbed off. Avoid soap during these day-to-day washes, as this will affect the quality of your “seasoning”.
Using warm water and a scrub brush, simply brush away any excess food from the skillet. If any food is stuck to the pan, apply some salt and vegetable oil and scrub with a paper towel or washcloth to help lift away the stuck-on food.
Next, you’ll have to re-season your cast iron.
Seasoning your Skillet
Without the seasoning or patina on your cast iron, everything will stick. By creating layers of oil baked into your cast iron, you’re creating a rust-proof, non-stick surface. Although many skillets come pre-seasoned, it’s always advised to re-season your skillet.
Season your skillet at least twice prior to using it. This will ensure it is on its way to a long, quality lifetime of use. Learn how to Season Cast Iron.
After washing, it’s always good to re-season your skillet. Once washed, dry your skillet with a soft cloth. Gently brush the cooking area with a small amount of cooking oil, and then set upon your stovetop over low heat to re-season. Once the pan has been seasoned, allow it to cool completely before storing.
Storing your Skillet
There are a few simple rules for storing cast iron. Simply ensure the skillet is bone-dry, stored in a dry area. Separate each piece with a piece of paper towel. This paper towel will help to absorb any extra moisture and will prevent your cast iron from the risk of rust.
Cooking with your Skillet
Curious how to cook with cast iron? Don’t be afraid to test our your new skillet with any of your favourite recipes. However, be sure to be gentle on the surface using wooden, metal or heat-proof utensils. You don’t want to ruin your seasoning!
Are you Ready for Cooking with Cast Iron?
If you’re ready to invest in your first piece of cast iron to elevate your culinary adventures, why not try some of my affordable favourites below:
Any questions? Let me know in the comments!
I purchased my first cast iron skillet a couple of years ago and it has sat in my kitchen cabinets, unseasoned. I don’t know why I’m so afraid to season it. There’s so many things I want to cook in it!
I know the feeling! It’s always scary trying cast iron for the first time, especially that first clean and season. They’re incredibly sturdy though, and almost impossible to ruin (even a rusted skillet can be saved!). If you have a chance this week, I fully encourage you to get it out, and start creating that beautiful patina and even tastier dishes xx