Using Cast Iron

DSCF0275Made peach cobbler for dessert, so yummy and so perfect for these cooler fall evenings.  The oven warms the house a bit, and the cobbler warms our tummies.  And I love using my cast iron for things like this.  Do you use cast iron?

One of my most prize possessions is the large cast iron skillet I found at a thrift store for $4. It was hardly used and just needed a good cleaning and seasoning. It’s one of my favorite pieces to use now. I only wish I had a lid for it. I have four other cast iron skillets: a deeper skillet (pictured with the cobbler) with a lid, a small skillet, a square skillet and the last is a round griddle. The square skillet and round griddle were pieces I got from my grandmother.

Seasoning a skillet is pretty easy. There are several ways to do it, but I do it the way my grandmother did.  Make sure the skillet is clean and dry, wipe the pan with oil (not too much) and put in a 300 degree oven. After about an hour, turn the oven off, wipe it out with a dry paper towel and put it back in the oven until it’s cooled off.

Take care with how you clean your cast iron. I’ve heard and I read a lot about not using soap to clean your cast iron. Most recommend wiping it out, or rinsing it in hot water. Some don’t even recommend using water at all.  For me, it depends on how I’m using it.  If I’m just frying an egg or something simple like that I will usually just wipe them out.  I don’t have a problem rinsing it if needed.  But if I cook something messy or smelly (like fish) I have no problem washing them quickly in hot soapy water. Most soaps today do not contain lye anymore, and that is the ingredient that takes the seasoning off. Don’t soak cast iron. Once in a great while I may have to take a plastic scrubby to one of them, but I’ve never had too much problem getting things off. If you find that something you made in your cast iron is difficult to clean and effects your seasoning, maybe cast iron isn’t a good choice for that recipe. Don’t put cast iron in your dishwasher.

Dry the skillets completely immediately after they are washed. This is important to keep them from rusting. After, I’ll put them in the oven if it’s still warm from baking or I’ll heat it up on a burner to make sure they are dry. Once I know they’re warm and dry I’ll spray them lightly with my spray oil, wipe them out (even the outside), let them cool and put them away. Reseason them as needed.  I store mine in my oven since I have a storage shortage in my kitchen.

What if your cast iron is already rusted?  Or what if you find a rusty cast iron piece at a yard sale or thrift store?  Sometimes the very best (and cheapest) yard sale/thrift store cast iron finds are the ones that are rusted because nobody else wants them.

Scrubbing with some steel wool (or even some fine sand paper) and a very little bit of vegetable oil, you can get that cast iron back to usable condition. If it is very rusty, you may need to enlist hubby’s help and use a grinder to get the heavy rust off.  But I’ve even used steel wool then, it just took a lot of elbow grease. It may take some work, but your work will pay off. Once the rust is removed, wash the cast iron and make sure it is good and dry (otherwise it will rust again). I’ll put them in a warm oven or heat it up briefly on a burner to make sure they are dry. Then you would season it, and you are good to go.

I really love cooking with my cast iron. The more they are used, seasoned and properly taken care of…the more favored they will be.  Do you have some favorite cast iron?

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