What is any homestead without some cast iron skillets? I absolutely adore cooking in cast iron. Why I love cooking in cast iron:
no toxic chemicals leeching into my food (hem hem no teflon)
I can’t scratch it or dent it (I’m super clumsy so this is a great bonus)
It cooks so evenly (even on electric.. believe me, I’ve been there!)
It holds SO MUCH FLAVOR. *cue Guy Fierri yelling about flavor town*
Steaks on cast iron are life changing.
Just kidding! Let’s talk about cast iron a bit and the three things you should know about cast iron before getting started!
How is Cast Iron Made?
Cast Iron is a quite literal term. Molten iron is cast into molds, left to cool and harden, and then refined usually through some kind of sand blasting process. If for some reason the cast iron did not make it (air bubbles, malformations, etc) it is through back into the mill, broken down and recast.
What does “seasoned” cast iron mean?
When you’re looking to purchase a cast iron pan you’ll notice an array of options. When purchasing new, you’ll notice “pre-seasoned. When purchasing at the thrift store you’ll notice… well… probably no sign and some rust spots. Either option is fine, but some are better than others. In an ideal world, your first cast iron pan should have a slight sheen, not shiny but sheen, think princess Kate sweat. It’s like… a light sheer covering on a warm day at Kensington Palace… not, in contrast, Newman from Seinfeld.
So, essentially, “seasoned” means at bare minimum it has been treated with oil in such a way that the pores of the cast iron have absorbed the oil just enough to make it non-stick. Cooking eggs on cast iron is a great way to test if your pan is non-stick!
How do I season a cast iron pan?
If you’re going the thrift store mode on this and you select a vintage gal of a pan with some rust spots, have no fear. Where there is a will, there is a way, and I have had better luck with older pans, so you’re in good company. I recommend using some steel wool and Kosher salt to scrub every part of her down after purchasing. NEVER USE SOAP. I repeat, do not use soap. Only if the pan is really really messed up shall we use soap which we will have to cover another time. For now, get out that steel wool and salt and we’re going to scrub.
Now for the fun part, when you’ve cleaned her up. Place her on the stove on medium high heat. The goal here is to open the pores, but not cause the pan to smoke. Like when you’re doing a facial and you just want to open the pores, not scald your precious face.
Now once that’s reached it’s cruising temperature, add a quarter size drop of olive oil, spread with a towel, using a separate towel, remove excess oil, allow to continue heating. Repeat that process a few times.
When you feel confident you’ve got oil in every pour and there is a nice even sheen on your pan, but not shiny, (remember, Princess Kate, not Newman) it’s time to blast the heat. Raise the temp, and then allow to rest on the burner and cool naturally.
Another really easy way to reseason a pan is to wash the pan with kosher salt and hot water, dry it, and then deep fry something in it - like fried chicken or tempura.
I hope this post blesses you. What did you think? I’m sure there are many cast iron advocates out there. What is your process? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments down below! I’d love to hear from you