Having a good cast iron skillet in my kitchen is a must! I love using it when my cast iron skillet when it is cured properly because it provides an amazing cooking surface that provides extra iron and is easy to clean. If you’ve never used a cast iron skillet or if you have, but you haven’t been able to master curing it properly, check out my tips and tricks!
Benefits of Cooking with a Cast Iron Skillet
- Perfect Non-Stick Surface – If cured properly (see below), a cast iron skillet will provide the perfect nonstick surface, which makes cooking so much easier!
- Source of Iron – By cooking with a cast iron skillet, you are getting more iron in your food! In scrambled eggs, the amount of iron is almost tripled! The longer you cook something and the more you stir it, the more iron it will absorb.
- Why No Teflon – Teflon is the repellent coating in your standard pan that keeps food from sticking to its surface. It contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), which is a chemical linked to liver damage, cancer, and developmental problems. This is especially bad if the surface is scratched which allows the cook to inhale these noxious fumes at a dangerous level.
- Why No Aluminum – Aluminum is a toxic metal that can lead to degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, so it’s best to stay away from cooking (or storing) your food in it.
- Better Bargain – Stainless steel is better than aluminum or teflon coated pans, but they are more expensive, and for the life of me I can’t fry anything in them without it sticking like crazy!
How to Cure a Cast Iron Skillet
- Set the temperature on your stove to low/medium (about a 3 or 4).
- Add some kind of oil. I prefer olive oil or avocado oil which both do well at high temperatures. I use coconut oil for cooking, and I have tried curing my cast iron skillet with it, but unfortunately it doesn’t work very well. (Also, stay away from Canola or any other vegetable oil because they are just bad for your health.)
- Once the oil melts, swirl it so that it coats the entire bottom of the pan and twist the pan while spinning it to coat as much of the inside edges as you can as well. *If you’re in a rush, take a folded paper towel and rub it around the bottom and the sides.
- Turn the heat down as low as it will go (low to 1).
- Let it sit like that for as long as you dare without forgetting that the stove is on (the longer the better, but a few hours should be good).
- Repeat this every time you notice it sticking or after you clean it.
- *You can also cure it by placing the oiled skillet in the oven at 400˚F for a few hours. You’ll probably want to put a pan underneath to catch any drippings. Also, flip the skillet over at some point. I’ve never tried this, however, because it seems like too much work. 🙂
How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet
- First of all, you don’t need to clean your cast iron skillet after every use. When I use my cast iron skillet just for making eggs, I rarely ever clean it. I just scrape out the bits of egg that accumulate and call it good. But if you’ve cooked something like taco meat or something at too high of a temperature that made things stick to the bottom, it’s time for a cleaning!
- To begin with, fill it up with hot water and let it soak for a bit.
- Then use a soft bristle brush, wash cloth, or some other gentle cleaning apparatus (Don’t use a wire scrubby – it will ruin any work you’ve done with curing thus far.) to gently clean the bits of food away.
- DON’T use soap when cleaning! Unless you plan on curing it all over again that is.
Buying a Cast Iron Skillet
I have one 10 inch skillet that I use for my daily cooking needs and one 12 inch skillet that works well for extra large dishes. You might also want an 8 inch skillet for smaller dishes. I also definitely recommend getting a hot pad cover for the handle. As you can see, mine has some holes in it, so I sewed a potholder around it. *Update, I’ve since upgraded to these wonderful silicone handle covers, and I also recommend these pan scrapers that are great for cleaning the circular surface of the pan. I ended up using lids from our other pots and pans, but you’ll definitely want either a 10 inch lid or a 12 inch lid depending on the size of your pan.
There are also lots of other great cookware that is made out of cast iron like this waffle maker, this 14 inch pizza pan, this dutch oven, this muffin pan, and this kettle. There are so many possibilities to bring cast iron into your life!