Monday, June 8, 2009

There seems to be a

big deal and a debate on 'cast iron skillets'. That debate would be..seasoning and washing.

Some people say..'NO! don't ever wash them..never let water touch them.." Others say it takes a "few hours to season one", and yet some say it takes only "one or two 'greasin' down' times to get em' seasoned."
Well, I'm no expert on cast iron skillets, but having been raised with them and having been using them since I started cooking myself (and no..I'm not gonna tell you how long THAT has been) I figure I can impart some information on 'cast iron skillets'.

First..how to season a cast iron skillet. I've got two words for this..USE IT! That is the best way to 'season' a cast iron skillet. CONSTANT use! Mind you, there's a few things you can do to it before you start using it that will help to start the seasoning process. Here's how to do that:

Remove ANY rust that your skillet may have on it (even if you have to use a metal brush on a drill..use it..remove the rust!)
Clean it good...soap, water and a good plastic scrubby..or scrubby sponge (you know..the ones that are sponge on one side, green or blue scrubby on the other). Here goes the hard part.
Turn your biggest burner on high. Dry you now rust free clean cast iron skillet, and get you an old rag that you don't care about (I use a diaper..works great). Put your skillet on the hot burner, bottom down. Dip the rag in lard or bacon grease or if nothing else a solid shortening. Lard or bacon grease is the best to use. Now, wipe the inside of the skillet, coating it good with the lard. As it begins to heat and smoke, keep going, keep coating it till you see the bottom of that skillet starting to look 'black'. You're not 'pouring lard' in it, you simply dipping the cloth..and wiping it on.
Once it's starting to turn black and you have coated it once again (should be 3 or 5x's by now) put on a thick oven mitt and turn your skillet over so that the bottom is UP over the burner. Now, wipe the outside of the skillet.
When you're doing all this wiping, remember, be quick or you'll burn yourself. Refold your rag several times, as you'll see it gets dark and black..that's good...no worries.
Repeat this process above 3 or 4x's ..wiping and flipping. Set your skillet aside and start using it.
This process may have to be repeated after the first few times you use it, but honestly..if you'll just remember to dry it, put it on a warm burner and give it a quick wipe inside with lard/grease then turn off the heat, you should not have to repeat the process.

Now..on to washing.

First and foremost, that old bologna of 'NEVER LET THEM TOUCH WATER" is HOOEY! Spit it out and forget you EVER EVER heard that. I wash mine regularly..every time I use it.(which is every DAY!). With that said, there are a few rules to washing a cast iron skillet.
Here is the one NEVER..NEVER EVER use a 'metal scrubber' on them (such as a Brillo, etc), ONCE THEY ARE SEASONED. That's the ONLY NEVER you need to worry about.
Now, I've heard it said that some wash em, but they say don't use soap. This part is partly true. If your skillet is seasoned well, it shouldn't take 'soap' to clean it. The secret is 'HOT WATER' and a scrubby of some sort..usually plastic. HECK..even scraping it with a metal spatula works!
When my meal is cooked and it's clean up time, here's what I do. I've got about 4 seasoned skillets and have not had a problem with them yet. (besides all that..I watched my mom clean hers this way for years and she learned from her mother and grandmother).

If what I've cooked MAY have stuck in the bottom of the pan, I put about a cup of water in it an let it soak while I wash the rest of the dishes. When it's time for the skillet, the first thing I do is dump out the water, and use my metal spatula and scrape anything that is still stuck. (Usually isn't!)
Using HOT water I run the water in the skillet and take the sponge with the scrubby side and wipe it round and round several times. Usually, that's enough. BUT on the rare occasion that I need soap, I use it. You don't want your skillet 'squeaky' clean like the rest of your pots and pans. There should always be a smooth looking black coating on it, inside and out.
I do say this..I do use soap on the outside on most days due to drip overs and oil that gets 'over coated' on the outside. Either way, water is ok and soap is ok when you need it.
Now, dry your skillet and if it needs it, put a light coating of grease in it, let it sit and soak that up. I leave mine right on my stove most times, ready for the next mornings use.
You'll know if it needs a light coating..it'll be a gray color, not smooth black inside. I suggest you do this each and ever time you wash it till it is seasoned well, and that only comes with use dears..USE that skillet and don't worry about the 'naysayers' that say 'never wash it'.....you can wash it..and you can scrub it if you need to..just learn how! It's that easy.

Now, raise your cast iron skillets in salute..and USE THEM!

See ya next time......down on the farm!

Sage

1 comment:

NancyD said...

Truthfully, Sage, I don't own one! lol But I knew there was some "secret" to doing it and wondered what it was all about....so THANK YOU! I'm not sure I can use them on my glass top??? Gotta check that out first. I have been meaning to get one, boy have they got pricey over the years, huh???? Great advice, I appreciate it! Ü