There aren’t a ton of photos in this post and I love photos…so to start out please enjoy this series on the carousel at the park where everyone’s having a great time and my mom is whispering “oh I hate this…I really hate this…” while trying not to lose a grand child on the ride. Because this really made my day.
I recently got my first cast iron skillet and I had a friend asking what to do with them…so I thought I’d share!
There are a few things that we’re going to cover in this post and in case you’re busy I’ll list them now so you can skim to the reason you’re really here!
- Why to Use Cast Iron
- How to Clean Cast Iron
- What to Make (and More Importantly NOT make) in Cast Iron
- Some Other Important Tidbits to Mention that Don’t Make a Whole Category
Why to Use Cast Iron
1. You can go directly from the stove to the oven.
If you need to brown meat and then pop it in the oven, cast iron is the one-pan way to go!
2. It’s naturally non-stick.
If you season your pan regularly (season just means to rub some oil on it) then it will stay non-stick virtually forever.
3. They last Forever
Maybe not literally forever, but Lodge claims that you can pass their pans down through generations. I don’t know about your regular non-stick pans, but I’ve been using them for about two years and am almost embarrassed to bring them out when company comes over. They’re scratched, chipped, and really aren’t super non-stick any more.
4. Even Heating
Cast Iron takes a little extra time to heat up because it’s so thick, but when hot, they hold heat for a long time which means your pan will be evenly heated. FYI, you should start with the heat lower to warm it up and then you can raise the heat once the pan is all warmed up (I only keep the heat low for a minute, nothing too crazy.).
5. It tastes like cooking outdoors.
I don’t have a grill so I love cooking in cast iron. I can’t quite describe what I love about it, but cooking meat is much more satisfying and tasty than cooking in a nonstick pan. Of course, this is just my personal opinion and not science-based in the slightest.
6. Ideal for Camping
You all know that I don’t like camping if you read my spring onions post, but I do think this is good to know. Because you don’t have to worry about sticking over the fire AND because you don’t need soapy water to wash it, cast iron is perfect for cooking outside!
How to Clean Cast Iron
You’ll see lots of different ways to clean a cast iron skillet, but this is the way I’ve found that works best for me. Most methods have you clean it while it’s still hot…but that’s usually when I’m eating.
1. Use a scraper to get the larger bits out of the pan.
Lodge sells them or you can find them at pretty much any store. The nice thing about the lodge version is that it has multiple angled sides so it fits in the corners of your pan well.
You can buy one here, but please know that I get a few cents if you use that link.
2. If that doesn’t get everything, pour some water in the pan and scrape some more!
3. Pour some Kosher Salt in the pan and use a paper towel to wipe off any tiny stuck-on bits.
You might need to add a little water and keep wiping.
4. Rinse out the salt, wipe out any water drops, pour about a tablespoon of oil in the pan, and wipe the oil all over your pan.
Two questions that arise:
- Won’t the pan get rusty if you use it with water?
Yes, but only if you LEAVE water in it. Don’t soak your pan and be sure to wipe any excess water out after you’re done.
- Do I wipe the whole pan since it’s really one big surface?
You totally can! And should every once in a while, but you really don’t need to wipe the handle and bottom of the pan EVERY time you use it.
What to Make (And Not Make) in Cast Iron
Cast iron is very durable, however there are some foods that have the potential to make your pan get rusty or foods that just aren’t sturdy enough.
What to Make
- Most Meat
- Corn Bread
- Bacon and Eggs
What Not to Make
- Flaky fish (the pan can be rough and too hot which can pull your fish apart)
- Acidic Foods (this can make your foods taste metallicy and can ruin your seasoning)
- Citrus (lemon/lime juice)
- Pancakes & Fried Eggs (unless your pan is super well-seasoned, pancakes and fried eggs will probably fall apart when you try to flip them)
Other Important Thoughts
Be careful on glass!
According to Lodge, you can use their cast iron on glass, but be careful not to drag it around or plop it down as to not harm or scratch your cooking surface. I don’t know if other manufacturers have a similar statement. I would suggest checking their FAQ section.
Heat Your Cast Iron Slowly
Since cast iron retains heat so well you likely won’t need to have the heat quite as high. I’d suggest heating it up slowly (like, over the course of a minute.)
Use Anything But Steel Wool
Cast iron is like the Superman of the kitchen. It won’t be effected by you cooking with a steel flipper, forks, etc. But if you use steel wool to clean it, welp, that’s your kryptonite, you’ll lose a lot of the natural seasoning and it will be less non-stick.
Cast-Iron Retains Flavors
If you cook a piece of fish and then cinnamon buns you’ll probably have some pretty fishy tasting buns. Some people suggest keeping separate sweet and savory pans, but I’ve found that by rubbing my pan out with kosher salt a few times it does a good job to suck out leftover flavors.
The Handle is So So So Hot
You’ll either need a handle cover or an oven mitt to pick up your skillet. Also, they’re crazy heavy so you might need two oven mitts.
Use Your Pan Often!
One of the best ways to keep your cast iron well seasoned is to use it often. Don’t be scared of it and just go for it. Because if you DO mess something up and wind up with a really rusty pan guess what…that’s what the internet is for.
I’m here for you and believe in you. Now go forth, friend, and use your cast iron skillet!
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments. I tried to hit on all of the questions I’ve received so far.
Don’t have your cast iron yet?
I love my lodge brand skillets and would definitely suggest them to you. This is not a sponsored post, I just have been thinking about all the things that I wish I knew before I got started using my pan.
Lodge cast iron is very affordable and they have a great reputation. You can purchase the skillets I have here. Please know, I get a few cents if you buy the skillet from my link…so thanks!
Also, I’ve been really grateful that I have a handle cover. You can grab one here if you’d like.