A cast iron skillet is the most common iron cookware, and an integral part of every kitchen cabinet. Well-known for its heat retention ability, and consistent diffusion of heat, it is most useful for frying and sautéing purposes. It comes in various forms such as frying pans, woks, griddles, flattop grills, and Dutch ovens. This cookware, being made of iron, benefits anemics who suffer severe iron deficiencies. But like any object gets worn over a period of time, so does cast iron cookware.
Instructions to Care for a Cast Iron Skillet
Caring for and cleaning a cast iron skillet is a process in itself. So, whenever you buy a new skillet, a few golden rules need to be remembered.
Wash the Skillet
Dip the skillet in hot water, preferably soap water. Use a sponge to scrub well. But don't overdo it as in the process pre-seasoning of the product may get affected. With prolonged use, salt water must be used for cleaning purposes and dry towels for wiping them.
Dry the Skillet Completely
Once washed, use a dry towel to wipe the skillet and see to it that there is no moisture sticking to the sides. You may also use regular tissue paper to absorb any remaining wetness in the vessel.
Prepare the Skillet for Seasoning
The recommended temperature for preheating a cast iron skillet is 350º F. Start the oven and make sure to season the skillet with a teaspoon of oil or butter.
Season the Skillet
Seasoning a cast iron skillet is an interesting activity. Place the skillet on the rack of the oven, and keep it for an hour. This time is utilized in seasoning, where the oil or butter melts into the pores of the skillet. Once the seasoning is done, let the skillet cool down.
Cook over Low Flame
Cast iron cookware is popular for its even heat diffusion. So do not cook over high heat as soon as you place the skillet on the stove. This might damage the skillet.
Skillets are Not Storage Containers
These are only cookware, and not a storage medium for food. Specially foods with an acidic base must be emptied into some other container soon after cooking, as such negligence can damage the seasoning of the skillet.
Never Use Cold Water for Washing
Hot skillets should never be put in cold water for washing as this will cause the skillets to crack. So let it cool down first. In case the food is overly greasy and there are thick residues sticking on the surface, pour normal water to soak the skillet.
Do Not Use Dishwashers
This is an important thumb rule when using these skillets. They are only to be hand washed. Soon after cooking, when the skillet is still hot, use boiling water to rinse it well and remove any residual stains sticking to the sides or bottom. Use a sponge soaked in mildly diluted soap water for scrubbing. Sprinkle salt and wipe the skillet with a dry towel or a tissue paper.
Do Not Cover the Skillet in Humid Weather
In humid weather the moisture in the atmosphere settles down on the surface, and may lead to rusting. So while storing these, make it a point to leave the skillets open without covering them with lids.
Now before you embark on your next cooking adventure, do not forget to heat the skillet upside down in oven at a temperature of 150º F (which is a pre-seasoning activity as already discussed). This activity also prevents rusting.
Cooking is a bliss when it comes to using cast iron skillets.Even the thought of the steamy food sautéed in it expelling a wonderful aroma makes you hungry. But then to keep this sturdy cookware going, adequate care needs to be taken.