Do you cook with cast iron? I am a huge fan. I started switching over a few years ago and have loved it. For the first couple of years though, I had no clue how to properly care for my cast iron skillets. I read a lot of conflicting information about it, and it wasn’t until this last summer that I finally found a method that is perfect. It’s quick, easy, and keeps your pans nicely seasoned!
When you wash cast iron with soap and water, the soap can remove the “seasoning” from your pan, making it so you have to season it again. Seasoning cast iron is the process by which you oil the pan and heat it to high temperatures for a long time (an hour in a really hot oven) to seal that oil into the iron. This process is what makes cast iron so amazing to cook with — the seasoning creates a somewhat non-stick finish and you get nice flavors and the perfect char on your food. If you season properly, you shouldn’t have to do it again. The best cast iron pans are those that have been seasoned and used over and over again for years. The more you use your pans, the better they will become.
Another thing about cast iron that some hate but I love, is the fact that they don’t heat evenly. Whatever part of the pan that is directly over the heat, will become hot and the rest of the pan will be only warm. I love this feature because it allows me to cook different foods in the same pan and I can control what is being cooked. If I have veggies in a pan and want to add eggs on the side, I can move the veggies to a less hot area of the pan and add my eggs to the “hot spot.” Then when everything is done it’s all warm and cooked at the same time.
Another great feature is the ability to use cast iron on your stove top and then transfer straight to your oven to bake with. This comes in handy when searing meats and then finishing them in the oven. It’s great over an open fire too.
This method I found to clean my cast iron originally came from Pete Servold of Pete’s Paleo. He is a chef and owner of an amazing company that provides paleo friendly ready-to-make meals. I have been using this for months and have loved the change in my cast iron.
Step 1: Take your pan that you have cooked in and if there is no oil left from cooking, add 1 T (give or take) of avocado or extra light olive oil. Add 1-2 T kosher salt.
Step 2: Take a paper towel or a dish rag, fold it in quarters, and scrub the salt and oil around the pan. The salt and the oil make a poultice that acts as a scrubbing agent to remove the crispy bits of baked on food from your pan. Depending on what you made in there, it could take some scrubbing and even more oil/salt.
Step 3: When most of the food has been scrubbed off, wipe out the salt/oil mixture. Add a tiny bit more oil and spread it all around the pan with your hand. This helps keep up with the seasoning.
Step 4: place a piece of parchment or waxed paper in the pan and stack your cast iron together this way in your cupboard.
That’s it! It’s so fast and easy, and keeps your pans wonderfully seasoned. If you do need to wash something with a little water, you can do that. Adding a little water to the bottom of your pan and heating it up on the stove will help loosen up some harder to get bits. But try to avoid soap. If you ever notice your cast iron oxidizing and making rust spots, follow this method to scrub them off, oil them well, and keep cooking!
If you aren’t using cast iron, give it a try! I use these bread pans and love them! I try to avoid most non-stick pans, especially teflon. The substance teflon is full of toxins that I don’t want leaching into my food. Cast iron is a great alternative, as is ceramic. Search garage sales this spring for some well-loved and used cast iron!