How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet
It happens. You wound up with Grandma’s amazing cast iron pan (which everyone raves about), but after a few uses, you put it away. And now it’s...it’s...not so great. It might even look like this:
Yes, that’s my pan. It was once my Mom’s. She would not be pleased with what I’ve let happen. Especially that little bit of burnt cheese that's been there for a long, long time.
The good news? While cast iron pans can get a little scrungy looking, they are dead simple to bring back to life. With just a little cast iron skillet care, they'll be back to the amazing kitchen tools they’re touted to be.
How to Take Care of a Cast Iron Pan
You may have heard that cleaning cast iron is difficult, because of water and rust and how soap isn’t good for it. Those both could be concerns, but they’re easily dealt with.
This pan has both rust and baked on food residue (Sorry, Mom!). So it’s going to take a little doing. Break out the scrubbie-sponge and some soap.
Yes, you can use soap! It’s the 21st century, people. If your pan can’t handle a little soap every once in awhile, it's time to get a new pan.
That said, you can also use some really hot water and a spatula to take off seriously cooked-on food. It’s how cooks clean flat-top grills in a restaurant, so it’ll work for you, too.
All Dried Up
It’s cleaned and rinsed, now make sure the rust doesn't come back. It’s easy: just turn the burner to high, set the pan on it, and wait for the water to boil out. That cast iron is practically parched now.
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet
Now, it’s clean and dry, but you want it seasoned. “Seasoning” is, basically, just a buildup of oil in the iron (there’s more to it than that, but once the scientists say “long-chain polymers” I start looking out the window and just want some lunch).
So, in lieu of a class on metallurgy, just take that hot, dry pan and wipe a tablespoon of oil inside it. And that's seasoning the pan! Now just let it cool. It looks amazing, doesn't it. It's almost like you could cook on it.
Keep It Up
If your pan is really rusty—like you wondered if it could ever be used again rusty—then you may want to repeat the heating/oiling/cooling process 2 or 3 times before you use it.
What you’ll find is that every time you do this—clean it, dry it on the stove, then oil it—it'll clean easier, become increasingly non-stick, and even get less prone to any rust appearing on it.
Now Start Cooking
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