Updated: Dec 6, 2019
My Cast Iron is for sure my #1 all time go-to pan for EVERYTHING. Yes, everything. From baking pies to making pasta, this is my miracle worker side kick in the kitchen.
I've heard that a cast iron is something that is passed down from generation to generation and can be a family heirloom. I didn't have an old school cast iron from a relative. I received my very first cast iron skillet from my husband Bryce for Christmas one year. It was a brand new Cabelas Cast Iron. We both love and enjoy being in the kitchen and it was something I've been wanting for a while at the time. I'll admit, I was always a bit intimidated caring for a cast iron though. I heard the tall tales of ensuring proper care to keep it "seasoned" and in working order.
Here is what I've learned over the years about my cast iron:
Do's and Don'ts
Always use oil or butter prior to cooking a meal.
Store in a DRY place after cleansed. Such as on top of your stove or in the oven.b
Gently clean with hot water and a soft sponge. You'll find when you have a well seasoned pan, you could literally just rinse it with water and the food residue will just go away magically.
Avoid using soaps when cleaning. If you need to soap it, use very small amount.
Avoid using very abrasive scrubbies. Honestly, there are times I might need to bust out my steel wool for real stuck on food.
**Tip** A good way to cleanse your cast iron gently, is to pour a tablespoon of course salt and scrub the pan with a dish towel or soft sponge. The salt acts as an abrasive source to help rid any residue on cast iron.
If you do have food stuck on the pan, add water and boil it on the stove top. Let is soak for 10 mins, then rinse and cleanse as you normally would.
How to Revitalize Your Cast Iron
If you have obtained a cast iron from grandma or at the local thrift shop, chances are that skillet may have some rust build up. If that is your case, it is a pretty simple process to bring it back to life and ready to assist you in the kitchen.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub with steel wool or stiff bristled brush under hot soapy water to rid the rust and any other build up. Then, rinse off and dry completely.
Add a small amount of oil into the center of the pan, and use a dishcloth or paper towel to coat the entire pan. Inside, outside, bottom and handle.
Put a sheet pan lined with foil on the bottom rack of your oven. Put your cast iron upside-down a rack above the baking sheet. The baking sheet will catch any drips from the oil on your cast iron.
Bake at 400 degrees for an hour. Turn off oven and let your cast iron pan completely cool down inside. Store your "new" cast iron in a dry place. I usually leave mine on my stove since I use it daily.
I use my cast iron often. So, I do this “renewal” technique every once in a while. Typically after cooking, I clean my cast iron by literally just rinsing it with warm water and a soft sponge. Food wipes clean easily since my cast iron is well seasoned. Then, I put it on the stove on high heat until the water has disappeared from entire pan. Then, I add a tablespoon of olive oil and wipe the entire pan with a dish cloth or paper towel.
Enameled Cast Iron
Sooo, I got an enameled cast iron prior to getting my traditional one. It was beautiful turquoise (my fav color!) and I had so many big hopes and dreams cooking with it. I found out quickly that it needs much more gentle handling than a traditional black cast iron.
Here's what I've learned:
BE GENTLE. I don't mean to yell, but seriously this pan is fragile and requires you to be a softy. the finish can chip and scratch easily so avoid using metal utensils.
Unlike a regular cast iron, enamel is not non-stick. To avoid sticking, always cook at a medium heat setting and use plenty of oil or butter.
If sticking does occur, do the boiling water soaking method I mentioned above. Add hot water, soap (for this enameled version pan), and soak for 10 mins. Then, when rinsing, use a soft scouring pan to rid extra food residue.
Over time, this enameled cast iron can stain. To help rid the stain, add hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda. Then, scrub with a squirt of dish soap with a non-scratch scouring pad. Then, rinse with warm water and BAM, it's back to life again.
My personal goal is to keep my trusty cast irons in great shape so I can pass these puppies down to my kids and hopefully generations to come! With care and proper handling, these beautiful must-haves will be in my kitchen forever.