Why we love our cast iron pans – they’re one of the most affordable pans on the market ~ they conduct & maintain heat incredibly well ~ are great for high-heat situations such as frying and searing ~ working on stove-top or oven, gas, electric or induction, even on the grill ~ they go camping with us ~ they’ve been around forever and have a certain nostalgic charm ~ and when cared for properly, they’re virtually indestructible, non-stick, and something your someday-grandkids will love to have.
Caring for the cast iron pans we love – to clean stubborn food remnants: SALT & a bit of OIL! (Don’t use soap.) Kosher salt (Morton’s is cheap, coarse and great for this purpose.) With the pan still warm, add ½ to 1 cup of coarse kosher salt and a touch (maybe 1 teaspoon) vegetable oil. Using a rag or folded dishcloth you reserve for this purpose, scour the pan. Rinse with hot water and dry immediately. (You can clean up with far less salt if your pan isn’t coated with food. A little salt and paper towel may do the trick.)
Seasoning the pans we love – nothing could be simpler. Rub a light coat of vegetable oil into the clean pan, about a Tablespoon for a larger skillet (flaxseed or grapeseed work especially well), starting with the inside, with anything remaining on the cloth continuing to the outside also; place in a low-temp oven (say 250°F for ½ to 1 hour). The heat will help the pan absorb the oil. A well-seasoned pan will perform better (especially as a non-stick surface) and will greatly resist rust that iron is otherwise prone to.
I didn’t know about the cleaning with salt trick. We used to scrub our skillet with sand when camping. Good to know. Thanks.
Same idea of course…we just tend to have more salt in the kitchen than sand. 😉
Nice Spree! I grew up with cast iron pans in my house (sadly I do not own one now but I think it’s time to change this)!
Well yes you’d better! 🙂
what perfect timing, I just bought my very first cast iron pan over the weekend! 😀
Brilliant – I have ruined two cast iron griddles through washing them, the next one will be more “cherished” now I know what to do!
If, by any chance, you still have one of those griddles that you ruined…it isn’t ruined. Even if the pan is completely covered over by orange rust, that can all be scrubbed, sanded, polished away, bringing the pan back into safe food service again. They are only really ruined if they get badly bent or broken in half.
Ooh – that´s good to know. Will get Big Man on the case, he has a sanding gadget!
Sometimes….late at night….when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep. I’ll sneak downstairs and season my pan just because…
(sometimes when I don’t even need to…)
You crack me up Jeem!
A joy to see how you’re spreading the cast iron love. Didn’t know about that salt trick until very recently (thanks to you). Mike treats ours like precious little babes, and it shows.
May sound weird to say, but they get “prettier” with age it seems. Is it the patina, or is it just all the love that gets showered on (and in) it over the years?
It’s gotta be both! 🙂
Thanks for this lovely trick. I hope it’s not too late: I finally bought a cast iron pan about two years ago, and have been washing it the old fashioned way.
Oh Ronnie! Not too late at all! You can have a pan that’s all rusty – simply steel wool the rust off. Then use salt with oil. Rinse, dry. Then use the oil treatment in the low-temp oven for an hour and it will likely look good as new!! (Or good as old!) 🙂 Keep using it, and keep treating it this way and it will just get better and better!
I do love my cast iron and wish I had seen this post years ago. Where were ya, Spree, when I need ya? 🙂
This is a great, informative post, Spree. Like you, I’ve found salt to be the magic abrasive and haven’t had any problems keeping my pans clean with it, when necessary. I bet this will get referenced plenty of times by new owners of cast iron cookery googling for help with their dirty pans — rightly so.
I would give up a whole lot of more expensive, fancy kitchen gear before I’d surrender my two black skillets (two are handy not only for larger quantity treats but because I can make a fake panino iron by heating both and putting the second on top of what’s to be pressed in the first pan). Cast iron skillets should also be mighty convenient for beaning any miscreants who break in and try to steal my cauliflower fritters, I should think.
I agree. If I had to choose between my main cast iron pan and the KitchenAid Stand Mixer, the mixer would GO.
I should think those trusty old skillets have been used for such a thing as this a time or two. (I like your idea of employing two so as to have a panini press. You clever thing!)
That was very instructive, thanks a lot!
It’s so my pleasure! Thank YOU! 🙂
Affordable? I thought everyone just had hand me down ones like me. They last so long. Really affordable!
You see, YOU’RE the very reason we should be taking good care of our pans. 🙂
I don’t have a cast iron pan, they are not something you get easily here but I really should try and get one, I keep hearing great things about them
I hadn’t thought to consider that cast-iron would be hard to find! It’s so prevalent here. But if you can locate one, I think you’ll be so pleased you did.
I use salt but only organic, free range salt. I think that helps…
Jim – I think the people who stop in here to visit know that the only kind of salt I EVER use is free-range and humanely raised!
Agreed! My 10″ cast iron skillet is my kitchen workhorse. Although I just got a 2-burner griddle and I am finding that I use that quite a bit as well–what an improvement on having 3 pans on the stove!
Great spreenkle – thanks 🙂
I didn’t know the salt trick, spree! Awesome because I just bought a huge dutch oven! And I have been wondering if my frying pan couldn’t use a little “seasoning” up but wasn’t sure how to do this! Yay!! No more stuck eggs!! xo Smidge