How to Properly Clean and Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron SkilletMy grandma was from Tennessee, and once a month on a Sunday she would make us all supper. There was fried chicken, corn bread, mashed potatoes, and all kinds of amazing southern food. I don’t remember her recipes {I was still pretty young at the time}, but I do remember by grandma’s cast iron skillet. It was always on her stove and ready to cook with. When Grandma passed, I didn’t have the good fortune to get my hands on her skillet, but a couple years ago my mom bought me one for my birthday.

With cast iron comes great responsibility. A cast iron skillet is something to be treasured, loved, and seasoned. Then passed down generation to generation – which is totally feasible with the proper care. So how do you love your cast iron and make it last (presumably) forever? Clean it right and season it regularly. I’m not talking salt and pepper. I’m talking fat, lots of happy fat.

Let’s clean the skillet first.

 

I made you some steaks. See: butter, browned bits, stove top heat, and oven heat all working the cast iron.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

I didn’t clean the skillet right after cooking. Which isn’t the best thing ever, but also not the worst. Please please please don’t soak your skillet in water or leave it in the sink. This can encourage rust to form.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Now your first reaction may be to reach for these stand by’s.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

STOP! The sponge – fine, but ignore the scrubby side. The soap – NO.

Run your water until it’s super hot.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Rinse your skillet under the hot water as best you can.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Use the soft side of your sponge to remove any residue you can.

If there are still food bits stuck to the skillet, like this…

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Mix a paste of Kosher salt and water.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Rub the salt paste around the skillet with the soft side of the sponge.

You can use some more force when rubbing to really clean the skillet.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Now the skillet is clean, but we’re not done yet.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

{If your skillet is brand new, you can scrub it with the coarse side of your sponge and use soap. Just this ONE TIME.}

Now it’s time to season the skillet. This is what a cast iron skillet is all about. The seasoning process will keep your skillet in excellent working condition, and impart that extra deliciousness that only comes from cast iron cooking.

Each time, after you clean your skillet, you should coat the inside with a thin layer of solid shortening. You can use vegetable oil too, but shortening doesn’t leave as much of a “sticky” feeling as the shortening. This step is really important – it’s like doing a mini seasoning for the skillet.

If your skillet is brand new, you will need to do the full seasoning process to get things going.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside.

Using a paper towel, apply a very generous layer of solid shortening to the inside of the skillet.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

The cooking surface, the sides, handle, edges, everything. {I like to lay down a kitchen towel so my counter doesn’t get messy.}

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Flip the skillet over and apply a generous coating of shortening to the bottom of the skillet and sides.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Place the skillet upside down on your prepared baking sheet and put everything in the oven.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Bake the skillet for 1 hour.

Turn off the oven and leave everything in the oven.

Once the oven and skillet are cooled, remove the skillet and pan.

Now your skillet should be nice and shiny.

How to Properly Clean & Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

Apply a thin layer of shortening to the inside of the skillet.

And you’re done!

Your cast iron skillet is now ready for cooking.

Preparing fatty foods like bacon or frying chicken in the skillet will help give the skillet a little extra oomph since they help season the pan for you. Over the years, the shortening layers and foods fats will give your skillet flavor and provide a natural non-stick surface that is unique to cast iron. Happy seasoning!

 

Comments

    • Julie says

      I needed that today Paula. You’re the best. I’m seriously rethinking EVERYTHING about my blog right now.

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