Seasoning a cast iron skillet is necessary to create a smooth, non-stick surface and to prevent it from rusting. For proper seasoning, you must take certain precautions when cleaning your pan. If you take good care of it, your cast iron skillet will gain in quality with age and wear and will become the centerpiece of your kitchen.
Method 1. Clean a cast iron skillet the traditional way
1. Rinse your pan with hot water after using it. If your pan is still hot, now is the best time to clean it. If it has a rim that helps retain liquids, you can pour water directly into it. Don’t do this with other utensils because you’ll get a lot of noise and steam. Keep a good distance away so you don’t risk getting burned. Rinse once to remove food residue. Refill the pan to cover all areas that were used for cooking.
2. Boil the water. Carefully, place the skillet over the heat and heat the water to bring it to a boil. Boil for a few minutes for the remaining residue to dissolve.
3. Lightly scrape the bottom of the pan and the edges with a wide spatula. Do this briefly when the water is still boiling. The seasoning of the pan may be damaged if you rub too hard or too long with a metal object
4. For the dirty water into the sink. Place the pan back on the stove and turn off the heat.
- Be careful when carrying the pan from the stove to the sink and vice versa. Since cast iron is a very good conductor of heat, the tail and the rest of the pan will be very hot, so you risk burning yourself. Use a tea towel, gloves or potholders.
5. Dampen paper towel and quickly wipe the surface of the pan. If you do it right, the paper towel should be covered with a thin film of dark residue.
6. Apply a thin layer of fat, vegetable oil or butter. Cooking sprays work great. Spray the grease or spread it with a paper towel. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan. This treatment should give it a shiny and smooth appearance.
7. Store your stove in a cool, dry place. Cover it with a paper towel instead of a lid to prevent moisture from accumulating inside.
Method 2. Use potato and baking soda
1. Cut a raw potato in half. You can also do this lengthwise, depending on the size of your pan. If your skillet is very large, a potato cut in half lengthwise will be more practical, as it will cover more surface area.
- This method is perfect for riding your cast iron utensils of rust.
2. Apply a thin layer of baking soda to your potato. Baking soda is both mildly abrasive and very effective as a cleaner. It is a well-known natural cleansing ingredient.
3. Rub the pan with the potato covered with baking soda. Rub the bottom of the pan as well as the edges. If the surface of the potato becomes too smooth, cut off a slice and apply baking soda again
4. Season your pan again after cleaning it. This treatment will surely have damaged the seasoning, so you will have to redo it.
Method 3. What you should not do
1. Avoid using soaps or detergents. If they are effective and practical for cleaning the majority of kitchen utensils, they are not at all recommended for cast iron. Sulphide in detergents strips oils from cast iron and leaves your stove as bare and vulnerable as the day it was born.
2. Never put your pan in the dishwasher. The process is different, but the reasons remain the same. This method will completely destroy the non-stick surface and allow rust to set in.
3. Avoid cleaning your cast iron utensils with steel wool. While it’s good at removing food and other residue, it also rips out the seasoning and would require you to start over. Better to stick with the potato.
Advice and Tips
- After drying the pan with a towel, you can place it on low heat or in the oven on minimum power to dry it completely.
- Always season your pan with vegetable oil or butter before storing. Never use animal fat like lard, as it will make the pan smell rancid.
- A very rusty or badly seasoned cast iron skillet must be cleaned with suitable products, especially steel wool. This will salvage almost any cast iron skillet that does not have a hole in the cooking surface. After having rubbed it well with the steel wool, immediately season it with oil. You can then use your stove for decades.
- Seasoning with oil after drying the pan in the oven increases the penetration of oil into the metal and decreases the risk of oxidation.
- If you must wash your pan with soap, be sure to rinse thoroughly and season your pan again right after.
- Avoid putting a hot cast iron skillet in cold water. This can crack or even break the cast iron.
- Carefully dry any other cooking utensils that you store with your stove. A slightly damp pan will rust and contaminate other metal utensils.
- Cast iron pans conduct heat to the handle, be careful not to burn yourself when handling it. Use potholders.
- A hot cast iron skillet is the same as a cold cast iron skillet. So be careful when it’s on fire.