How to Care for Your Cast-Iron Skillet in 5 Simple Steps

cast iron skillet care
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If you've held off picking up a cast-iron skillet because you're not sure you know how to care for one, those days are over! It's easier than you think!

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Keeping your cast-iron skillet in tip-top shape will allow it to last a lifetime -- and then some! According to Tennessee-based Lodge Cast Iron, your cookware can survive 100 years or more. So, just how do you maintain it properly? Laura Candler of Lodge shares how to keep this perennially popular kitchen tool at its peak.

1. Seasoning is key!

When you think of "seasoning," you might picture salt, pepper, and a few other spices, but in this case, "seasoning" a skillet refers to a light coating of vegetable oil that's baked onto the iron.

After each use, be sure to hand-wash and dry your skillet and then rub it with some vegetable oil. This "seasoning" will protect your skillet from moisture, which could cause it to rust. Seasoning creates the natural, easy-release properties, according to Lodge, the oldest US manufacturer of cast-iron skillets.

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2. Lower the heat to prevent sticking.

Because cast iron retains heat much more intensely than your typical non-stick or aluminum pans, you'll want to lower the flame or the heat in your oven to prevent food from sticking, Candler advises. This will make it easier to clean.

3. Remove food residue.

Okay, so you didn't quite get all the food off the skillet. No big deal -- simply boil a mixture of one cup of water and two tablespoons of baking soda in the cookware and watch that residue disappear! Don't forget to season your skillet after you've dried it!

4. No soap required. Say what?

Anyone who's seen the movie Meet the Fockers may remember the scene in which Dina Byrnes (played by Blythe Danner) says to Bernie Focker (played by Dustin Hoffman), "Bernie, this frittata is wonderful. What's in it?" Bernie replies, "Well, a lot of the taste comes from this old skillet. I've never washed it." Laughing and cringing? Not so fast!

As Candler points out, by heating it up, you're making it sanitary each time. If you consider that the cast-iron skillet reaches 400º F in just four minutes, and sterilization occurs at 212º F, it makes sense. But if going without soap freaks you out, you can certainly wash your skillet with mild soapy water, dry it, and oil it immediately.

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5. Got rust? Don't panic!

Without protective seasoning, iron can rust. But as we all know, even with the best intentions, you can get sidetracked and accidents occur. If you notice rust on your skillet, all is not lost. It’s actually a surprisingly easy fix. Just scour the rust, rinse, dry, and rub it with a little vegetable oil. Check out this helpful video for inspiration!

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Don't let the fear of caring for a cast-iron skillet stop you from getting one and serving up delicious dishes -- and fabulous desserts. You've got this! 

cast iron skillet care

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