How to Clean and Season your Cast Iron Skillet

How to Clean and Season your Cast Iron Skillet: A Demo

Cast iron is a star in the world of traditional cooking. Not only is it safe (which can’t be said for a large number of cooking pots on the market, many of which are made out of aluminum and/or coated with teflon), but it’s versatile. The vast majority of what happens on my stovetop happens in a cast iron pan.

It’s also durable. You can buy cast iron that’s 78 years old, rusty, and ugly and scrape the dickens out of it to make it good as new. How many modern pans could survive that?

The number one objection to using cast iron? “It’s just so hard to clean!”

We’re happy to tell you that’s false. And we’re also happy to prove it.

Take a look at this demo, starring a cast iron skillet and Laurie’s hands!

Run hot, hot water over your cast iron skillet.

Really hot water! Use rubber gloves, if necessary, to avoid burning your hands.

Use scraper to scrape off any food residue.

Use what you have. You can buy custom scrapers for cast iron, but often a stiff spatula works just fine.

Never use dish soap.

There’s a bit of controversy about this, but avoiding dish soap is still considered best practice by most people.

You don’t need dish soap, anyway!

Use a scratch pad that hasn’t been treated with any chemicals to remove residue.

Just metal. It’s abrasive and won’t coat your pan with nasty chemicals.

Wipe clean with a paper towel.

Any towel will do, but be aware that the towel will catch all the residue kicked up by the scratch pad. A reusable one will need to be laundered before you use it again, and may become stained. (We therefore consider this an appropriate use of a paper towel!)

Give the cast iron skillet a good coating of lard or other fat.

Almost any real fat will do, but lard is inexpensive for us and doesn’t leave a flavor profile behind.

Set pan upside down on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for one hour. (To save energy, do this while roasting a chicken or making a casserole!)

This is the seasoning portion of the festivities. Heating the cast iron opens its “pores” and allows the fat to really sink in.

The cast iron is now ready to use!

We’ve shown you the whole process, start to finish. But, as is probably obvious, you won’t need to go through this every time you use your pan! Sometimes you’ll only need to scrape it out, sometimes you’ll need to use hot water and a metal scratch pad, and, of course, you’ll need to repeat the seasoning process as necessary.

Don’t worry! You’ll start to get a feel for it and before you know it, caring for your cast iron skillet will be a breeze.

Happy egg-making, Foodwifery friends!