C A S T iron skillets will last a lifetime with proper care. I’m lucky to have inherited my grandmother’s pans. They’re 80 plus years old and she cooked everything in them. There’s something different about the aroma of Italian meatballs frying in cast iron verses a toxic non-stick Teflon pan. Cast iron can go from stovetop to oven and withstand high oven temps. A well-seasoned skillet will give you eggs that slide right out of the pan.
If you purchase new cast iron, it’s going to need to be seasoned. Check out thrift stores and garage sales first for a cheaper alternative. Don’t let rusty and messy cast iron scare you. A good scrubbing with hot soapy water and a scouring pad will do the trick. Avoid pans with small cracks or pits.
Let’s get to seasoning.
- Clean your pan with hot soapy water and dry thoroughly with paper towel. Apply a very thin layer of any organic food grade oil or shortening. More is not better in this case. The first time I seasoned my cast iron I used too much oil and ended up with a sticky oily mess and had to scrub and begin again.
- Line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil to catch any oil drips. Heat the oven to a low 325 F. Place your pan upside down on the middle shelf.
- Let the pan “season” for an hour. After the pan has cooled down in the oven, apply another coat of oil and season for one more hour. This ensures a nice seasoned pan that will last a long time before a re-season.
Cooked food lifts easily out of a seasoned pan. Simply wipe out with a slightly damp cloth. A wet pan will rust so always dry any water that touches it.
Notes: Always pre-heat cast iron on a low flame before cooking or frying food. Never put ice cold food into a pre-heated pan. It’s sure to crack.