Cast-iron skillets have many benefits that ordinary pans do not; including even heat distribution and retention, non-stick cooking surface, the versatility to go from stovetop to the oven and a long utility lifespan. However, these benefits rely heavily on the proper care and cleaning of your skillet.
Step 1: Place the cast-iron skillet in the sink, when it’s still warm from cooking, and rinse with hot water. Wipe all surfaces clean with a non-abrasive sponge. For stuck-on food and rusty patches, sprinkle on some kosher salt and use a wet, non-abrasive sponge to remove (for really stubborn food-bits, boil water in the skillet for a few minutes before scrubbing with salt). Then give it another good rinse to make sure the surface is clean of debris.
Step 2: Dry the skillet completely with a clean cloth. Once fully dry, use a paper towel to apply a thin coat of cooking oil to the interior of the pan. Be careful, too much oil will make the surface sticky or greasy.
If, after cleaning, you notice any discoloration, rust or stuck-on food in the cooking surface of the pan, you will need to re-season it, using the instructions below:
Step 1: Cover the oven’s bottom rack with aluminum foil to catch any oil drips. Preheat the oven to between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Wash your cast-iron skillet (or other type of cast-iron pan) with a stiff brush or a scrub pad and hot, soapy water. When preparing a cast-iron skillet for seasoning or re-seasoning, it’s okay to use soap and abrasive scrubbers because you have not yet applied the final coating of cooking oil.
Step 3: Rinse the cast-iron skillet with hot water and dry thoroughly, making sure all soap residue and moisture have been removed.
Step 4: Use a paper towel to evenly apply a very thin coating of cooking oil to the skillet’s surfaces.
Step 5: Set the cast-iron skillet upside down on the oven’s top rack to prevent excess oil from puddling on the skillet’s cooking surface.
Step 6: Bake the cast-iron skillet for an hour, then turn off the heat and leave to cool inside the oven.
Step 7: Store the cool, now-seasoned cast-iron skillet in a dry area away from cooktops, sinks, and dishwashers. Use it often and clean it properly, and your perfectly seasoned cast-iron skillet will last at least a lifetime or more.