Cast iron in the kitchen is a country staple. It’s homey and old-fashioned and just plain good for you. I cook with cast iron a lot–and I get a lot of questions about caring for cast iron. I think, sometimes, people are a bit afraid of it. (I understand. I used to feel that way, too.) Often, the people I hear from have come into some old cast iron and don’t know what to do with it. It’s rusty or covered with some bumpy, black stuff. The reason there’s so much old cast iron around is because it pretty much lasts forever. There’s nothing wrong with using old cast iron. In fact, it’s even better! It’s got history.
Once you understand how to take care of your cast iron (old–and new!), it’s a very simple routine.
How to remove bumpy, black stuff from cast iron:
Run the pan through a cycle in your self-cleaning oven or place it directly over a campfire for 30 minutes. The icky stuff will turn to ash and flake off. Follow with scrubbing and washing. (Let the pan cool first.)
How to remove rust from cast iron:
An everyday scouring pad will handle minor rust. If you’ve got major rust, you can use steel wool, too. (Scouring rusty cast iron is a good job for children who are in trouble.) Follow with scrubbing and washing.
This little skillet hasn’t been used in a while and has some minor rust.
How to scrub and wash cast iron:
Use a scouring pad and warm, soapy water. Dry the pan thoroughly before seasoning. (You can put it in your oven for a few minutes to make sure it’s dry.)
My little skillet, rust all gone, scrubbed, washed, and dried. Ready for seasoning.
How to season cast iron:
Use a paper towel and coat the pan with some kind of oil/fat, all over, inside and out. Use lard, bacon fat, shortening, or vegetable oil. (I use lard.)
Place the pan upside down on the rack in your oven. Put another pan beneath it to catch any excess drippings. Keep it in the oven at 350-degrees for one hour, then turn the oven off and wait for the pan to cool. That’s it!
You can repeat the seasoning process two or three times in a row for an old pan you’ve just restored, or a new pan that needs a good first-time seasoning. (Always season new cast iron after you buy it.) Seasoning keeps cast iron conditioned and also gives it a stick-resistant finish.
Everyday cleaning of cast iron:
For daily purposes, a properly seasoned cast iron pan cleans out easily. Depending on what you’ve been cooking and how much of a mess you’ve made, sometimes you can just wipe it out. Other times you may need to get a butter knife and scrape it out if anything is sticking. If you need to, you may rinse it out with water, dry, then put a dab of oil on the inside and wipe it around. If you use soap to wash it, you should season it afterwards. Otherwise, just season regularly, every few weeks or months, depending on how often you use it. For a pan you use on a daily basis, the more often you season it, the easier it will be to clean, so it’s worth the trouble. (And it’s really not that much trouble. Though I will freely admit that I don’t season my favorite skillet every single time I use soap to clean it. I’m probably going to cook bacon in it–tomorrow–so I don’t worry about it. I just season it regularly to keep it in shape.)
This cast iron skillet is my favorite pan. I use it almost every day.
When I’m not cooking with it, I keep it turned upside down on the back burner of my stovetop. There’s no point putting it away.
Cooking with cast iron is a beautiful thing–so if you’re buying new cast iron, or have come into some old cast iron–don’t be afraid to use it! Take care of your new cast iron and you’ll be handing it down to your children, and restore your old cast iron–it can be done and it’s not that difficult. Cast iron cooks more evenly than most other types of pans. It’s irreplaceable for making flour tortillas as it can withstand high heat in a dry pan. Seasoned well, cast iron is nearly non-stick. Food really does taste better cooked in cast iron and an added health benefit is that it will actually absorb some of the iron.
Do you use cast iron? If so, is it old? New? Do you use it every day, or just once in a while? If you don’t use it, why not?
Note: Do not use cast iron on a glass stovetop without checking your manufacturer manual. This particularly applies to pans with a raised ring (such as my favorite skillet, above). Depending on your manufacturer, if your glass top is damaged while using cast iron, you may void your warranty. Cast iron may also cause breakage or scratching on glass stovetops.
I have two skillets, I believe they are 12″ and 10″ my mother gave me from her kitchen when I got married. She gave me a griddle too, but I think it must have been lost in a move somewhere 🙁 The large one needs a good scrubbing and re-seasoning, and you’ve inspired me to go do it. The smaller one gets used a LOT. I hang it on the wall with the bottom facing outward when it’s not in use, so it’s really easy to grab. It also keeps the cat hairs from getting in it. (They’re in the air!)
My Mom would use hers for all sorts of dishes, but cornbread was the main one. I haven’t done a pineapple upside down cake yet, but I’m determined to make one this holiday season.
I LOVE your big dutch oven by the way!
On October 18, 2009 at 2:08 am
My daughter just got me my 1st piece of cast iron as a house warming gift. It’s a 12 inch skillet. The first thing I made was some cornbread. YUM!!
On October 18, 2009 at 2:33 am
Sheila Z says:
Three cast iron skillets and a dutch oven here. Use them every day. Couldn’t live without them. Grew up using cast iron. My mother had a whole set of them. Until I was in my teens I didn’t know there was any other kind of pan that could be used for frying. My neighbors had one of the first teflon pans. It was my first introduction to a frying pan that wasn’t cast iron. I thought it was pretty nice until the first time someone used a metal spatula on it.
On October 18, 2009 at 3:27 am
I have two cast iron skillets – 12 inch and 8 inch – and I use them every day. On a glasstop range. Didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to but it works perfectly!
LOVE LOVE LOVE cast iron cookware!
On October 18, 2009 at 5:05 am
I use my cast iron daily, my griddle stays on the stove always and the other two stay in the oven-even when it is on and something else is being used in it. I look forward to the day I get an 8 qt. dutch oven with a lid- I have a bread recipe I am dieing to try! AND I use them on my glass top stove- I assume the only reason not to use it is because of breaking the glass? I look forward to the day that glass top stove stops working and I can get me a gas stove!
On October 18, 2009 at 5:07 am
I have a 8″ fry pan, a 10″ fry pan, dutch oven with a handle for hanging over a fire, a deep 12″ fry pan, and a 2 sided griddle. The deep fry pan was my mother’s that she got when she was first married — back in 1947! The others I have picked up here and there. The griddle was the only one I bought new on clearance in the grilling section a couple falls ago. When John moved in, I had to teach him how great the cast iron was to use….he was adamant about using non-stick. There is just no comparison in the food taste!!! I use the griddle when using my stainless steel stock pots (canning)… it keeps the heat more even and leaves no sticking at the bottom, pancakes (it covers 2 burners), steaks in the winter (makes them just like the grill).
Nothing compares to cast iron!!!
On October 18, 2009 at 5:20 am
I have 2 that my Grandma gave me after I got married and I told her that I couldn’t find skillets like hers. You know, all black and smooth. They are the best for eggs, pancakes, fried anything, corn bread. I didn’t know about the glass top though, been using them for 35 years on 2 different glass tops with no problems. In fact, they work best because they are flatter than most pans. You just have to make sure the pans don’t have that raised ring on the bottom like your favorite one has. My Grandma lived in West Virginia all her life and I sure wish I would have learned to make her biscuits.
On October 18, 2009 at 5:31 am
Yes, that’s it in particular, the raised ring on the bottom, and also the possibility of scratching or breaking the glass cooktop. It also depends on the manufacturer. It’s usually not recommended, which doesn’t mean people don’t do it anyway and often without a problem, but I think in some cases, depending on your manufacturer, it will not be covered in your warranty if the glasstop is damaged while using cast iron. (I’ll add a note to the post to explain the concern better. I just wouldn’t want anyone with a glasstop stove to start using cast iron without checking their manufacturer manual.)
On October 18, 2009 at 5:37 am
Jenni in KS says:
Is the reason for not using cast iron on glass stove tops because it is so heavy and/or you might crack the glass if not careful? I have a glass stove top, but I don’t really like to use cast iron. I had a bad experience at a Scoutmaster training once:o) I got yelled at for daring to clean the cast iron in the soapy water. Hey, I have a thing about making sure dishes are clean and the no soap thing freaks me out a little. I’d rather season the pan more often than have egg remnants on it while cooking something else.
I do have an old cast iron corn bread pan that a friend gave us. It makes individual corn muffins shaped like ears of corn. I’ve already put in my oven during the clean cycle, but now I’ve got to clean that rust out of those tiny crevices and season it. This is one item I can see not washing with soap since it’s only being used to make cornbread.
On October 18, 2009 at 5:32 am
Sonia T. says:
When I was pregnant with my first child my doctor recomended that I always use my cast iron cookware, it’s an easy way to get extra iron in my diet. Also handy if you’re vegetarian.
On October 18, 2009 at 5:46 am
Notice you have an old cast iron skillet with the fire ring, that was used generally on old wood stoves. The old ones are my favorites! Some had fire rings, some didn’t…We have sold many old Griswold and Wagner skillets, etc. when we were collectible flea market vendors.
I have one I use for cornbread..Don’t touch it or (die) unless you are going to make me some cornbread!..lol Both my boys had to have old cast iron skillets for cornbread, they said “Mom, square bread just doesn’t taste as good”. Some back in the “olden days” things are good!
I have a huge one (won’t fit a modern electric stove) for outdoor fish frying..My mother and grandmother used large skillets for frying chicken. Also used cast iron bread stick pans, dutch oven (we called it a stew pot)and of course iron trivets were used..and my mother (93) remembers her grandmother using cast iron clothes irons..I use most of mine in the oven now….since retired from so much canning, cooking and cleaning stove eyes…now have a glass top range…but miss it terribly…well some “not”…lol
PS Forgot…nothing but nothing cooks homemade french fries like a large smooth cast iron skillet…and you don’t have to use a ton of oil to do it..they brown up and crip beautifully…my daughter in law begged me for mine..lol
On October 18, 2009 at 5:52 am
Does anyone have any advice for using a dutch oven with legs in a wood burning stove?
My husbands Grandparents gave us some cast iron several years ago for us to use while camping. He gave us the largest skillet I have ever seen. (enamel coated) I would like to start using some of the pieces…esp now that I know how to clean and season them. (and yes, I’ve been scared to try) 🙂
Guess I know what I’ll be doing this morning.
On October 18, 2009 at 6:09 am
Molly Montgomery says:
Hi Beth: RFD-TV has had several shows on about cooking on a campfire. It usually involves putting coals under and on top, depending on what you’re doing. Check their website.
On October 18, 2009 at 10:07 am
Ohhhhhh my grandma’s fried okra in her cast iron skillet. Nothing was as good as that when I was a kid!! :heart:
On October 18, 2009 at 6:10 am
I don’t use soap on mine if it needs extra cleaning i use salt as a scrub, then resseason, don’t want a soapy taste.
On October 18, 2009 at 6:15 am
I’ve always heard that using soap on cast iron can leave it tasting soapy. I try to avoid soap at all costs. Also, to scour, I WAD UP A BALL OF TIN FOIL (palm sized and new or slightly used from covering leftovers) and scour away. This is particularly useful when camping. Also, cleaning an iron skillet pretty much ruins your steel wool pad so the foil is just perfect!
Happy cooking all! Off to try to find some fall pictures for the blog. It is a beautiful day in North Carolina today. Hope it is a nice one in WV!
On October 18, 2009 at 6:17 am
When I use soap, I rinse it really well. I either season it properly after washing it or at the very least “lightly season” it by wiping it with some oil or lard before re-using. I’ve never had trouble with a soapy taste that way.
On October 18, 2009 at 6:24 am
I’ve used cast iron, but was always concerned about the bacteria factor. I got some LeCreuset because it could into the dish washer. A high end retail store is now selling Lodge cast iron (which is available in other stores) so I’m thinking we’ll see more use of cast iron. I find it heavy. I’ve chipped my enamel stovetop, lesson learned the hard way.
(I’ve been drying Concord grapes for use in cooking. I love this time of the year!!!)
On October 18, 2009 at 6:34 am
:hungry2: I have 3 cast iron frying pans but they are sitting in a box in one of our buildings since we moved to the farm this summer. Suzanne you’ve reminded me that it’s time to get my butt in gear and go search for them. Time to make cornbread and fried potatoes and onions….yum! :hungry2:
On October 18, 2009 at 7:12 am
One morning, about a year and a half ago, I was digging in compost to plant some hostas in our yard and ran my shovel into an nine-inch cast iron skillet. Our lot was the dump from the farm that used to be our subdivision, so we often find “treasures” buried in the dirt. The skillet was, of course, rusty and filthy, but I worked at cleaning it all day. I used a scrubby, steel wool, sand paper and even a Dremel on it, and finally got it clean and rust-free. I fried pork chops in it that night, and my love for cast iron cooking was born.
My cookware is a mix of gifted, found and thrifted pieces – a huge griddle, two corn stick pans, a six-inch fry pan, a seven-inch skillet, a nine-inch skillet, a 12-inch skillet, and a three-quart blue enameled dutch oven. I’m not sure I could do without any one of them!
On October 18, 2009 at 7:13 am
I love my cast iron! I don’t remember where I got my favorite skillet, possibly a hand me down from my mother. My other skillet came for a second hand store where my MIL volunteers. It was in bad shape and she rescued it from the scrap metal heap for me. I have two other pieces, a tiny skillet and a round griddle, that I bought at a yard sale for a grand total of $6. Now all I need is a dutch oven and I can die happy.
On October 18, 2009 at 7:21 am
we usually scour with kosher salt…mostly because i can’t handle the metal on metal scraping. it gives me chills.
On October 18, 2009 at 7:37 am
Sometimes I realize you and I are so much alike it scares me. I just re-seasoned all my pans last night! I had always done the way you described but I read online that you should heat the pan in the oven while it preheats to 450 then apply the lard/Crisco in a very thin layer. Put it back in the over and continue to heat it at 400 for 30 minutes. Then just shut the oven off and let them sit over night. Worked like a charm. Not sure why but it worked much better than putting the Crisco on a cold pan. I think it would work especially well for new skillets.
On October 18, 2009 at 7:40 am
I have and use cast iron skillets, pots, griddles, corn bread and gingerbread molds in assorted sizes and from garage sales, passed down family heirloom items, gifts and one I found on a stoop in Brooklyn, NY with a sign that said, “Free to a good home”.
I love them- love that I have lids for several of the skillets and can bake sausages in the oven- in 45 minutes, without turning it or even checking on it!
I make corn bread and Irish soda bread in my largest skillet- delicious!
On October 18, 2009 at 7:49 am
I recieved a cast iron skillet as a wedding gift when I was a young bride. I did’nt know what to do with it. It rusted. My then sister-in-law that was visiting asked if I was going to throw it away. I said yes. She said Oh..if i clean it up can I have it? :yes: I may get me one now!!!
On October 18, 2009 at 8:08 am
.Nancy in Iowa says:
I used to love cooking with cast iron – Mom always did and I thought they were part of every household. However, a few years ago I started having trouble with my wrists and gave them up because they were too heavy, causing some pain. After reading this post and comments, however, I really regret parting with my 2 small skillets, which were much lighter. Guess I’ll hit one of the consignment shops around here to look for one!
On October 18, 2009 at 8:24 am
Mary Lou says:
I also use aluminum foil to remove rust from iron skillets. It also works on old kitchen knives that seem to rust easily.
The rust comes off on the foil. I have used an old credit card or plastic tab from a loaf of bread to scrap the inside of the skillet.
Love your blog. It’s the first one I read every morning. Thank you for the time you take to make it one of the best. (My grandson loves your animal stories.)
On October 18, 2009 at 8:33 am
I love cast iron too!
On October 18, 2009 at 8:41 am
The only fry pans I remember my mother having were cast iron. When I got my first apartment at @ age twenty I purchased a small and medium size fry pan. They were not the beautiful black color of my mothers but I couldn’t find any like that in any of the stores I checked. I remember thinking that maybe they were being made differently than they were in my mother’s day and hoped they would work as well. Like I said I was twenty. I didn’t know about seasoning I just washed them, dried them by putting them on a burner, and applied a thin layer of oil. Today, thiry plus years later, those are the only fry pans I use. They are beautiful, black, and non-stick. I still clean them the same way, but any cooking remains just slide off so it doen’t take much work. Lately I have been thinking about getting a cast iron dutch oven: if I can find one at a reasonalbe price I will season it the “proper” way this time around!
On October 18, 2009 at 9:07 am
Paula Prater says:
My mother used her 12″ cast iron skillet for eggs, fried potatoes, and to make the best homemade fudge you ever ate… She never fixed
fudge at Christmas in anything but her cast iron skillet.. I loved to sit by her and stick my spoon in the side when it was just starting to thicken and was so warm and gooey.. Mmmm. I personally
am one of those people who have been afraid of them but since my husband has a bunch that he sells at Flea markets, I may get in his stash and try out a couple of them now.. Thanks, Suzanne.
On October 18, 2009 at 9:25 am
Been using it for many years, kind of trial and error. Cast iron is wonderful!
Got a question for all you “seasoned” cast iron users! We have one sauce pot (probably about 2 quart or so in volume) with a wooden handle. Have done nothing with it yet because of that wooden handle. Does that handle affect how it woud be cleaned, etc? Not so sure about putting it into the oven…
On October 18, 2009 at 9:46 am
Pete, wrap that handle in aluminum foil, then you can put it in the oven. It won’t hurt it.
On October 18, 2009 at 10:31 am
I have cast iron skillets and pans but we have a glass cook top and I have always been afraid to use them on it….kind of forgot you could bake with them…lol…right now they are just decorations but I am thinking I should dust them off and make a batch of cornbread in them. Hoping one day to get a gas stove that we can run on propane…
On October 18, 2009 at 10:00 am
My mom had a cast iron (heavy) pan. Well we girls hated it because we had to wash it, make sure it was dry and then season it. Pain in the asterick, when your a teen.
I wish I had thought to get that pan when my mom passed away. Wonder what ever happened to it?? She always made her fried potatoes in it. Yum!
On October 18, 2009 at 10:39 am
I have 7 cast iron skillets I use regularly. Yup, I use one of them just about every single day, from my biggest 17″ one to my square one, to my pot one to my 6″ one. I could not possibly survive in the kitchen without my cast iron! Not one of mine are new. One I inherited from my grandma, one my mom gave me because it was too heavy for her to lift anymore. A bunch came from garage sales. I also have a stack of about 15 other iron skillets in various stages of usability because I can’t not buy cast iron when it’s at a steal of a price.
Cast iron ROCKS!
On October 18, 2009 at 10:40 am
Oh, I have a cast iron 2 burner reversible griddle as well! :woof:
On October 18, 2009 at 10:42 am
I like cast iron also, but dont use it nearly enough. Like Suzanne said, it’s actually good for you, as opposed to say Teflon. I live where Teflon is made, and used it for many years until we discovered that it would easily large parrots if overheated. Every parrot owner is well aware of the dangers of Teflon around birds. Any while Tefton is completely inert when cold, (so much so that you can eat it without effect).. if overheated it gives off fumes that can kill large birds. So even though birds are much more sensitive to clean air than we are, you KNOW this cant be good for you either. :no:
On October 18, 2009 at 11:16 am
That was supposed to be “easily kill large parrots”…
On October 18, 2009 at 11:18 am
Keep up the good work. I’m new here and busily reading all the prior (whew)posts. Appreciate your cautionary ones: cats on table and now Teflon. I’ve also cringed at some of the member postings.
(Have you a bio-science background? or Capricorn/Virgo?).
Those who know owe first to “do no harm”…even by omission.
My first post was this a.m. I expect shy me will need about 18 hours before I join the Curmudgeon Club! Is there one?? Will it have me? Could we start one? (I have a treehouse! yaaay!)
getting silly now,…anyway, thanks again, Berta
On November 14, 2009 at 4:46 pm
I have a cast iron skillet and love it! If you have two you can use one for a bacon weight.
On October 18, 2009 at 11:55 am
I asked for cast iron when we got married, but no one gave us any so I started searching for some myself. I ended up finding a nice 3 piece set (3 pans) at K-Mart for less than 20 dollars. I love them and use at least one of them every day. Couldn’t live without them.
On October 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm
Sharon Gosney says:
I have three,small medium,and large. I bought them at a thrift store years ago for the grand total of $9.00. I cleaned them up and seasoned them and use them all the time. I prefer cast iron to my other pot. Also have a dutch oven. I need a few more items to complete my collection.
On October 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm
I have my first cast iron skillet. I haven’t noticed any improvement with the taste but I’m thinking that may come with use/time. I do have a question…why does the pan need to be upside down when seasoning it in the oven? Is that necessary? Thanks!
On October 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm
I don’t know that it’s absolutely necessary for the pan to be upside down, but the idea is that any excess oil will drip off (onto a cookie sheet or whatever you use).
On October 18, 2009 at 2:17 pm
Pat Wys says:
I love love love my cast iron skillet. Cornbread just isn’t the same unless it is in cast iron. MY FAVORITE PAN.
On October 18, 2009 at 4:03 pm
Thank you so much for this post!
On October 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm
Jan from Prospect Bay, Nova Scotia says:
Ihave four cast iron frying pans and a cast iron griddle and a cast iron corn cake maker (in the shape of corn on the cobs). That’s all we use for any frying and I’ve made plenty of pies in them too – chicken and apple both. The iron is good for you especially if you are a vegetarian and don’t get quite enough. We take them as soon as we’re finished and wash them with water and a scrub brush (nylon bristles) and then dry them and upside down on the burner they were just cooking on. Once in awhile we have a big ole seasoning day and put them all in with cooking oil for a couple of hours. Whenever people play the “what would you take to a deserted island” game – the first thing that comes to my mind is a big ole frying pan. Wish I had a dutch kettle but I do have a bean pot or three that I love. A topic for another day.
On October 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm
I have a camp style dutch oven. The lid is made so you can use it for a fry pan or a baking pan or as the lid with coals heaped on. It has baked untold amounts of cornbread & is our favorite for baking potatoes. Grease the potatoes generously with Crisco & sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt, bake @ 400 degrees for about one hour. You will never micro-wave another potato! PLUS you will never have to worry about seasoning your skillet! We have always washed our cast iron with dish soap-rinse with hot water-dry with paper towels-then one minute or so on the stove burner on high, sanitary, seasoned & ready to use. I have a stack of skillets in storage & some extra dutch ovens waiting for grandchildren to set up housekeeping! Gave away a set of the pots & pans in favor of stainless but kept the skillets & dutch ovens.
On October 18, 2009 at 6:52 pm
Amber lynn says:
This is too funny, I just pulled out my Vintage Wagner 10″ skillet and my 2 corn bread “ear of corn” forms and re seasoned them…I am hoping to acquire a few more pieces of Wagner ware…this last summer I cooked many a meal outdoors in Lodge cast iron…I usually use one of the dutch ovens, putting it on wood coals and then placing more wood coals on the lid…there are a lot of books out there on the subject, and quite a few are sold at Cabela’s along with the Lodge cast iron wear– but I am sure Amazon must have some too. My mom made the best Pineapple upside down cake in her’s…Me, I use mine for everything!!! :eating: :eating:
On October 18, 2009 at 7:18 pm
jane cline, WVA says:
I have some of my Mothers cast iron .. a 6 inch skillet and an 8inch one that i make cornbread in all the time.also a “cornstick” one. My Mother died in 1953 and had the pans several years before that.. there was also a deep 12 inch one that a relative made away with. so these are at least 65 years old. And they are still very nice looking..
On October 19, 2009 at 4:26 am
Harbor Hon says:
Finally! Someone who actually shared their knowledge of seasoning a cast iron pan. I have been searching forever for someone to make a post like this. I’ve had my cast iron pan a long time but was afraid I wasn’t seasoning it right. It stuck something awful so it just sat in the cabinet. It’s not anymore and I have you to thank for it Suzanne. You’re the best! xxoo
On October 19, 2009 at 4:32 am
I have lots of iron ware…all but one piece is Griswold. I wouldn’t part with any of mine. My children argue over who gets what when I’m gone. Cant help but laugh listening to them…at least I’ll ‘rest’ easy knowing my pots and pans are being well cared for. lol
On October 19, 2009 at 4:47 am
Sorry I’m a day late with posting but I was in the Palo Duro Canyon, Texas for a trail run with my huband. But cast iron is very close to my heart and I’d like to share!
We collect cast iron…old cast iron. And we sell it on ebay sometimes. But I have several skillets and griddles that are very old…from mid to late 1800’s that we found at estate sales and my husband cleaned.
You can clean the bad bumpy pieces in a lye bath but you have to know what you’re doing because it’s dangerous. It will, however, take off the absolute worst of the yuck on any good cast iron pan. It takes off rust as well but nothing will remove pitting. If you find a badly pitted pan, tell it bye bye.
Once cleaned in lye, wash…no soap ever…rub with a minimal amount of shortening and bake for about 20 minutes in a moderate warm oven. Rub off excess shortening and you’re done.
I have a 10 inch skillet, a National from about turn of the last century, that has the smoothest cooking surface you could imagine. There is nothing I can’t cook in that skillet and it’s far far better than the best non-stick surface. Once I cook in it, I clean it with hot water and a non-metal scrubbie then dry it well. I have a couple of wonderful griddles that are almost as smooth.
There truly is something ‘basic’ and down to earth about cooking in cast iron. Fry chicken, bake biscuits, make a Pineapple Upside Down cake in them….nothing is better!
On October 19, 2009 at 6:32 am
My wonderful husband bought me a cast iron skillet for my birthday, and I love it! I use it pretty regularly with whatever I can dream up. 🙂
On October 19, 2009 at 7:22 am
I love cast iron! I inherited my dad’s set of cast iron skillets. We use at least one different pan each day!
I also have a cast iron dutch oven (the kind with feet) that I use over an open fire. I’ve baked bread in it and use it for bbq country style ribs.
On October 19, 2009 at 8:23 am
What a great post!!! Everything one needs to know about cast iron.
I make cornbread in mine and everything I fry….they just cook so good…I really think meat is more tender in cast iron. I just got an old dutch oven from my stepmom and made chili in the oven last week in it and it was awesome!!!!
On October 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm
Suzanne, I have a rectangular shallow dish and a large elliptical shaped one with a lid made of cast iron, which look beautiful but I have no idea what to use for. Suggestions and/or recipes anyone? Thank you!!
On October 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Cornbread? Casseroles? They sound neat!
On October 19, 2009 at 2:31 pm
OK, thank you. Will try. :wave:
On October 23, 2009 at 3:56 pm
The Park Wife says:
All I cook with is cast iron. I was weary at first, but you get the hang of it and will not want to use anything else. I love all of mine (plus I count lifting them as my arm work-out for the day!)
The Park Wife
On October 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm
One note about putting the cast iron in an oven on the self-cleaning cycle. There is a blog out there that is dedicated solely to cast iron and cast iron cooking. He has an extensive tutorial on how-to-fix old cast iron. One thing he said was not to use the self-cleaning cycle as he had pans that cracked when he tried it. (He thought it depended on the manufacturer of the oven and how high the cleaning cycle got to.)
I don’t know why people scrub stuck-on cast iron. All I do is put hot water in the pan and let it sit for 10 mins or so. I rinse it out and stuck-on egg and the “meat spot” from frying hamburgers wipes straight off.
The other thing I do is when I’m done frying meat in my skillet (I don’t usually use much by way of oil/fat to fry), I add a little bit of water to loosen the browned on bits. I can then freeze it for soup stock (add to a bucket. When bucket is full, make the soup.) or make gravy either for that meal or another, or put it over the dog’s food.
On October 20, 2009 at 12:23 am
I used cast iron frequently. I prefer an open fire but think I will start using it indoor now that winter is getting ready to hit. My favorite: Dutch oven pineapple upside down cake.
On October 23, 2009 at 4:09 pm
When I first met my husband,Mark, I told him I could not cook at his house because he didn’t have a decent pan. We went out to a local “antique” (junk) market and bought him a 10″ “chicken fryer”, a nice deep skillet.
Then his grandfather passed away and, among the things being sorted, Mark discovered two small Griswold pans, a #2 and #4, one with italic lettering. He looked them up in an antique price guide and found they were two of the more difficult collectible pans to find.
Mark was hooked, he went on a several year long, self imposed mission to obtain Griswold cast iron. Other than the #3,6 & 9 pans I use most often, and the set of those we gave our son, Mark has (at last count) 52 skillets, 5 dutch ovens, a large assortment of muffin and corn stick pans, flat griddles of several shapes, steak plates, a bunch of trivets, two mailboxes and a gas stove. :bugeyed:
He can’t leave me, he can’t carry his things! If our house catches fire, we are content knowing that the cast iron will still be there. :yes:
On November 5, 2009 at 10:33 am
I love all the cast iron stories. I have a 10-inch Lodge skillet I got at Goodwill still in the ox. Its seasoned nicely now and I made Sue’s cornbread in it, the yummiest I ever had! Also have tow corn stick pans and 2 Dutch ovens, found thrown away at the curb by someone. I have expensive cookware as a wedding gift 10 years ago, but love my cast iron best!
On December 6, 2009 at 9:17 am
I have a large skillet and small, shallow-sided skillet I got at a thift store for $5. It had minor rust, so I used steel wool. I don’t use cast iron as much as I’d like. I guess sometimes I forget I have it. I’d like to have a few more pieces like a dutch oven and to slowly replace my other pans. I’ll have to keep a look out for sales.
When it comes to not using soap, I have found that baking soda is a really nice, gentle abrasive that I use even on my stainless steel frying pans.
On January 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm
I, too, love my cast iron. Thank you for spreading the knowledge! I gave my daughter my treasured 12″ pan for a wedding gift…. never saw it again…. finally got up my busy-body nerve to ask, and she said, Oh, my husband let it soak overnight and forgot about it. It rusted, so we threw it out.
Oh well. Never again, though.
On February 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm
dennis henderson says:
Seasoning your iron cookware is fine, but really, is seasoning all that necessary? I cook regularly with uncoated, vintage, very smooth iron, and all I do is scrub it with hot soap and water and steel wool,
and afterwards, a brief time on the burner to dry thoroughly . There’s rarely any build-up from cooking (which comes off easily if there is) ,and most importantly, there’s no flaking off of old seasoning to contaminate the food. Additionally, the benefits of using ‘naked’ iron means the food is coming in direct contact with the iron and no seasoning barrier to interfere with absorption. If one really likes the taste of iron and a no- hassle maintenance, all you really have to do is monitor for occasional rust, and just keep your iron clean. Oiling, I only do when storing for long periods. The rest is simple, common-sense care.
On March 6, 2010 at 4:28 am
I have had a lot of cast iron over the years and I love it too. My MIL taught me to season it with a coat of salt sprinkled on the bottom and baked in the oven on low for an hour. That is how I did mine.
I have had some cast iron that had a funny taste to the food so I got rid of it. My newest one is a Lodge and is not funny tasting.
On September 23, 2010 at 10:24 am
I have 4 cast iron skillets (6 ,61/2 I believe , 8 and 10 inch) and a cast iron dutch oven (or pot LOL) , I use the dutch oven every other day and my cast iron skillets every once in a while , I think I’m gonna start using them more often though because I like how evenly my food cooks and tastes :).
On November 8, 2010 at 11:20 pm
TYTYTY! :snoopy: I have loved cast iron since I was a girl and have never been really sure how to clean it and keep it great! but now I do! :woof: so I am gonna go to the flea mkt here and buy that old 21 in skillet i have been wanting!!! :dancingmonster:
On April 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm
I LOVE my cast iron! :heart: My Mom gave me one of my pans, and the other one, which has a lid, I got from the flea market up the way. We don’t have or want any other pans, and teflon/other ‘no-stick’ pans will never again cross my threshold! :snoopy: My husband has even made deep-dish pumpkin pie in those pans. I’m a bit of a coconut oil addict…it’s such a stable oil that I use it for seasoning our pans.
On April 28, 2011 at 10:42 am
Peculiar Cat Mama says:
I have an untold number of cast iron cookware, both at the farmhouse and at the cabin, where we also have an old cast iron woodburning cookstove. There is nothing better than bacon, basted/fried eggs, and grilled toast on double cast iron. ;>)
My bacon pan is a square old one, handed down. The square ones are hard to find – I was lucky to find another one in an antique store and bought it for the cabin. My bacon pan remains on the stove or in the oven ALWAYS, full of bacon grease. That is it’s seasoning. I baste my fried eggs in the bacon grease, changing out grease periodically (monthly) for freshness (hate it when there’s not enough grease to baste an egg properly!). I butter bread and turn it face down on a hot cast iron griddle pan – perfect.
I have all sizes and use them for all manner of things. Besides bacon, fried chicken (or fish) in the deep fryer is to die for. I usually keep that grease around for a little while, depending on how often I’m going to have chicken and/or fish (and I label what was fried in it – I don’t mix my kept greases).
As for soap – NO! NOT EVER! We wipe a pan out with a paper towel, use steel wool if necessary, though with a properly seasoned pan, it never is necessary, wash with water only, and put on the GAS STOVE burner till it dries (don’t walk away and think of something else when you’re doing that, BTW). I also have a small pan with lid and wood handle – never had any problem with the wood handle.
When we find a pan, my husband scours with steel wool and scraper, wash it in really hot water, season by rubbing oil or grease all over it, put it in the oven or on the stove or just begin using it to fry something. Never had a problem, and we’re not unhealthy because of it.
The dutch oven works well for a big pot of beans or stew. Same thing – wipe out, rinse, natural dry. And I love the way it looks. Plus cats can’t knock the cast iron lids off of cast iron pots and pans.
I swear by cast iron. I have a kettle, woodstove, the cookstove at the cabin, a bacon press, pans and griddles of every size and shape; there’s only one thing I still want: a cauldron with hook and frame. You could have an entire clam bake in one of those! (clams, baked potatoes, corn on the cob – substitute steaks for clams and let ’em sizzle to one side)
But my bacon pan is by far my favorite and most-used staple. Besides, that bacon grease is handy for dipping a spoonful for a pot of green beans or blackeyed peas. (Yeah, I’m from the South.)
On June 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm
I have lots of cast iron and love it. If anything needs re seasoning I just fry a mess of potatoes and it’s done. One item of cast iron I have not managed to make useful is my kettle, (tea kettle type) does anyone else have one and how do you deal with the rust?.
On June 23, 2011 at 8:50 am
I have several cast iron skillets, a smaller (8 inch?) skillet that I use for cornbread and a larger, probably 10-12 inch skillet that I use for pan-frying, searing, steaks or whatever. I also have a covered dutch oven that I “rescued” from an antique shop, and a square griddle pan that my first mother-in-law gave me that is my biscuit pan.. I love buying cast iron from antique stores because I like to rehabilitate them and put them back to use as they were intended.. I like to wonder who used to own it and what they might have made.. Both my mother-in-law and my mother have cast iron skillets that, I have been told, will someday be mine.. My mother’s was my grandmother’s and is very special to me. I have only made one cake in my big skillet, an old-fashioned sugar cake from a recipe found in an old cookbook featuring heritage recipes.. I have yet to try a pineapple upside down cake, but it is on my list..
On April 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm