I finally have my first cast iron skillet. Now, what the heck do I DO with it? There are lovely looking recipes out there that involve skillets so I got one, but it needs special care before it can be used for cooking in. The important thing about cast iron is that it is treated differently than other pots and pans. A brand new one requires seasoning in order to get a good nonstick coating and be ready to cook in.
(Update: I found out that mine was actually pre-seasoned, but extra seasoning helps the nonstick surface last longer. If you don’t know whether yours is seasoned or not, it’s best to assume it isn’t and just re-do it.)
Steps to seasoning a new cast iron skillet:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Use dish soap and a scrub brush to scrub the skillet really well. (Then never let the skillet see them again!)
3. Cover the skillet completely with olive oil, front and back, in and out. Use paper towels to help rub it in.
4. Carefully place the skillet in the oven and bake it for two hours.
5. Remove skillet from oven and let it cool.
6. Repeat the entire process so the skillet has two or three coatings baked in.
The second important part of cast iron is taking good care of it. It’s easiest to clean when it is just finished cooking, as soon as it’s cool enough to touch. Wipe out any food with a towel and rinse with very hot water. To get out any stuck-on food, use a mix of kosher salt and vinegar, then rinse with very hot water. Completely dry the skillet with a towel, or let it dry in a warm oven for a few minutes. Do not use soap or scrubby things on it, ever – those will remove the nonstick surface and allow the skillet to rust. Occasionally re-season the pan (bake with another coating of oil). Store your clean and dry skillet wrapped in a towel to keep it safe from moisture or scratches.