Cast Iron Skillet-How To Care For It!

Your cast iron skillet, when cared for properly should last a lifetime or most probably several lifetimes. With one of these pans you can, bake a cake, sear your roast, fry a crispy edged egg, or potatoes, even stir fry your vegetables. Here are just a few simple instructions to help you enjoy this type of cookware.
 Remember to preheat your pan before using. To help you make sure that the temperature is perfect, some water droplets in the pan should sizzle and roll around. If they evaporate immediately on contact with the pan, then your pan is too hot. With some experience, you will get to know the right heat setting for your iron cookware.
After use, let your pan cool, and wash it very briefly with soapy water. Add a small amount of coarse grain salt and then canola oil to the pan. If there is stubborn food residue left in your cookware, return it to the stove top with this mixture over low heat and stir/scrape with with a spatula. I find that simply rubbing this salt/oil mixture against the bottom of the pan with my fingers effectively removes any food bits left in my skillet.
  Then simply flush out the salt/oil mixture with warm water and wipe out the pan with some paper towel. This should leave a very light coating of oil in your pan. Here's a little video via Design Sponge to show just how easy the salt/oil clean up is.
 Never leave water  in your pan in an attempt to remove food residue, as your pan will rust. If  a rust spot happens, scrub that rusty spot with steel wool and re season your pan.
Iron skillets that are properly seasoned and used over appropriate heat are generally as non stick as Teflon pans. If you find that foods are sticking then you are probably cooking with too high of a temperature and/or your pan needs to be re seasoned.
Proper seasoning of your pan is very simple. Apply a light coating of canola oil on your pans' cooking surface either with a small brush or paper towel. Remove any residue with a paper towel. Turn your pan upside down on the middle rack of your oven. Heat the pan in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the pan cool down and repeat. Usually twice is sufficient to restore the smooth dark surface of a properly seasoned pan. Here is some extra reading on cast iron cookware from Whats' Cooking America.
The image above is courtesy of the folks at Uncrate.
Cooking with cast iron cookware is a unique and enjoyable experience. Once bitten by the bug, you'll want to add a dutch oven or griddle to your collection. Armed with the above information for seasoning and caring for cast iron, don't be afraid to purchase a good vintage piece of cookware even if it has a few rust spots.

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