It seems daunting, the somewhat mysterious metal pan your grandmother swore by and that takes two hands to move around. The lore surrounding our cast irons is hard earned considering the use of this metal pan is nothing short of household physics and chemistry, but the confusion surrounding the care of this pan is a product of wives tales and myths about the alleged ways to “ruin” a cast iron. Allow us to be the bearers of good news and announce that cleaning your skillet is very simple.
- After you’ve finished cooking in the skillet, and while the skillet is still warm, use warm water and a non-metal, non-abrasive scrub to remove any residual food bits clinging to the pan. Despite popular belief, using a small amount of soap to help remove stuck on food is perfectly fine, if necessary. Rinse the skillet out well and dry immediately with a towel (do not allow the cast iron to air dry).
- Transfer pan to the stove over medium-high heat until the pan is completely dry and hot (or place inside a preheated oven for 10 minutes). This step removes any excess water still in contact with the pan. While hot, spread a small amount of neutral oil, such as vegetable oil or grapeseed oil, around the entire surface of the pan with a paper towel until there is no more oil residue on the surface.
- Store your cast-iron in a dry place, and be sure not to stack other freshly washed pots or pans inside the cast-iron skillet, as this will introduce moisture to the pan and affect its seasoning.
If you find that a significant amount of food is sticking to your pan and that you have a difficult time removing the residue with a non-abrasive scrub, it’s probably time to season your cast iron. But no worries—you can find a simple guide in the “Seasoning Your Skillet” section of our article here.