Having a good cast iron skillet in my kitchen is a must! I love using it 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 tripled! The longer you cook something, the more iron it will absorb.
- 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.
- No Aluminum – Aluminum is a toxic metal that can lead to degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’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, but you can also use grapeseed. I use coconut oil for cooking, and I have tried curing my cast iron skillet with it, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work. (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.
- 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.
Note: I’ve tried the advice about wiping the pan with a paper towel coated with oil, and in my opinion, it just doesn’t work as well. I like having extra oil in the pan, and I totally use it up the next time I cook something.
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 12 inch skillet that works very well for all of my cooking needs. But you might want an 8 inch skillet when cooking for one, or a 10 inch skillet, or you may want something bigger like a 15 inch skillet or even a 20 inch skillet. I also definitely recommend getting a hot pad cover for the handle. As you can see, mine got some holes in it, so I sewed a potholder around it.
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!