How to Care for a Cast Iron Skillet

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Unlike other skillets, pots and pans, cast iron cookware requires some very special care. New owners of a cast iron skillet may find themselves at a loss when it comes to giving these pieces the care and maintenance they require. Some of the more important rules, such as never scrub the skillet in soapy water, may go against your instincts and seem strange, even unsanitary. However, cast iron is meant to have a constant layer of seasoning on the surface. This layer makes the skillet non-stick, protects its surface and helps give your food the unique flavor that comes from cooking in cast iron. If you care for your cast iron skillet properly you will have a lasting piece of cookware that will help you prepare quality food for years to come.

Things You'll Need

  • Vegetable oil
  • Paper towel
  • Salt

Seasoning a New Skillet

Determine if your skillet is pre-seasoned. If you are purchased it new, the packaging should indicate this. If you are working with a previously used skillet, you can probably assume that it has been seasoned before, but may want to re-season it to be on the safe side.

Rub the skillet with a generous amount of shortening or oil.

Place skillet upside down on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 1 to 2 hours at 350 degrees F.

Maintenance

Allow the skillet to cool completely after cooking.

Use a wooden spoon to scrape off any excess food. If your skillet doesn't come clean with this, sprinkle salt over the surface of the skillet and rub with a paper towel.

Wipe down the skillet with an oiled cloth or paper towel. Everyone has their own favorite oil, but vegetable and cottonseed oils are popular for this.

Place the skillet on a burner turned to low heat for about half an hour.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you must scrub your skillet, you can do so with a mild soap and warm water. However, you will need to completely re-season your skillet afterward.
  • Never wash a cast iron skillet in the dishwasher. Allow your skillet to cool before placing it in any kind of water. Placing a hot skillet into cool water can cause it to crack.

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