Caring for Cast Iron
So it took my husband over a decade of marriage to finally convince me to give in to cast iron. What was my problem? Cast iron seemed too hard to clean. Cast iron was too heavy. Cast iron rusts. There were a few good reasons to not use that big old heavy skillet.
I actually don’t know what changed it for me. He didn’t use the skillet all that often. But as the skillet graced our stovetop more and more, I found myself drawn to it. I started using it to make omelets and scrambled eggs. Then I discovered the glories of sautéed onions in a cast iron skillet, and that’s what did it for me. Along with carrots and celery, I would sauté the onions and add them to every crock-pot soup and chili I’d make. I found out quickly that those sautéed veggies add a depth of flavor not experienced in normal crock-pot cooking.
Another piece was that at a few points in my life I ended up being anemic. One of the big benefits of cooking with cast iron is that you end of with some of this crucial mineral in your food. Indeed, it’s a great way to get more iron in your diet.
Once I got the hang of it, I also found that keeping the skillet clean is actually REALLY easy. And I like things that are really easy to clean. Keeping the skillet well oiled was the key to my persistent use of the skillet. Now we use our cast-iron skillet pretty much daily or even more sometimes.
With all of that said. I’m now a believer.
A few years ago we gave a few of our friends some cast ironware. My husband ended up writing a few tips for our friends. Here are those helpful hints below.
Caring for Cast Iron
DON’T use soap to clean them. Use steel wool to clean it, scouring it to dislodge any stuck-on food. You can also use stainless steel wool (NOT an SOS or Brillo pad that have cleaning agents in them) if they ever get rusty or something.
DO clean it using hot water and a scrub brush. Just not soap. Then dry it.
If you ever use soap, remember that they’re pretty hard to ruin. If you want to use soap because you’re concerned about germs, remember that cast iron can get to 400 degrees in 5 minutes; germs die at 212 where water boils, I believe.
IMPORTANT: When it’s dry, coat it lightly with cooking oil. Any oil is fine. How much? Enough to restore the sheen. This is called “seasoning,” and helps prevent rust and treat the iron so it gets better over time. Then it’s ready for use.
Cast iron that is loved and cared for only improves with age and use. All of our cast iron implements are much better than new. If yours is still pretty new, be patient; as with a good wine, the aging process will only enhance your cast-iron.
Are you a cast iron believer? What is your favorite foods to make in the cast-iron skillet?
Here is a must have with skillets, a skillet handle pot holder. I’ve made several and they make a great gift for those skillet-loving peeps!
And here’s our skillet biscuit cobbler.
…and our dairy-free cornbread.