So you finally got your first skillet from Gourdo’s. What’s next?
With most beginner home cooks, getting their first iron skillet is an achievement. It opens up their world to new methods of cooking, searing, and expanding the dishes in their arsenal. But buying your first iron skillet is only the first step. What happens after it – cleaning, seasoning, and taking care of your iron skillet involves some complicated steps that can intimidate most home cooks.
Don’t worry! We’re here to break down everything you need to know about your first iron skillet!
Seasoning your cast iron skillet
While metal is a strong material, it’s also very prone to reactions. So even a drop of water staying on your cast iron skillet can cause it to rust. Seasoning involves putting a thin coating of hardened oil on the surface of your skillet to protect it from rusting.
Tasty put out an interesting video that you can use to refer to when seasoning your skillet – allow us to break it down into easy to follow steps for you:
- Scrub it down with a steel wool
When you’re getting a used iron skillet, it’s important to scrub off the hardened dirt or rust on the surface first before you start using them. You can do that by using a steel wool scrub with some dish soap and make sure to reach every corner of your iron skillet. That helps you get rid of dirt and rush, and get it ready for seasoning. Once done, just rinse it under some hot water and have another round of quick scrub – this time using a non-abrasive scouring pads (the tough part of your dish sponge will do). Finally, dry off the excess moisture by boiling it off using your stovetop.
- Rub it with a thin layer of oil
Flaxseed oil is the best oil to season an iron skillet. It’s the hardest to dry and keeps your skillet seasoned for longer, but is also on the more expensive side. Canola oil will do just fine if you’re looking to save some money or if flaxseed isn’t available. Just rub down the entire skillet – including the handle – with a thin layer of oil. Your skillet is porous so the oil will fill up the gaps and create a nice smooth surface that you can cook on.
Once your entire skillet is oiled, you can take a dry tissue and wipe the excess off. If your layer is too thick, it will keep sticking in your oven and might not give you the effect that you want when cooking.
- Bake your skillet in the oven with the highest temperature available
This will take about an hour of baking in your oven. What it does is it takes the oil past the smoking point and bonds it to your cast iron. Once the hour is up, just let your skillet cool down inside the oven.
The result will be thin, glass-like layer on your cast iron skillet that allows you to cook and sear your food to your desired effect.
Cleaning your cast iron skillet
Once the cooking is done, your next concern must be cleaning it. And yes, there is a right way to clean your cast iron:
- Get it down to the right temperature
If you let your cast iron skillet cool down too much, it might reach a point to where the food starts to stick to it, making it more difficult to clean. On the other hand if you put it under cold water when it’s still too hot, it might crack.
What you need to do is get it at the right moment after cooking before running it under some water.
- Salt + Scouring Pad is the best way to go
Yes, some salt and a scouring pad is your best combination to clean off your cast iron skillet. The salt helps you scrub off the food bits on your skillet without ruining the seasoning. Once all the dirt is off, you can just run it under some water to wash them off.
- Dry it off and add a layer of oil
You can do this by putting it back on the stove or in your oven until it’s bone dry. Once dry, just add in a little amount of oil again and wipe it across the pan into a thin layer. Put it back on the stove and turn up the heat until the oil starts smoking and you’re done.
Cooking with your cast iron skillet
- Always Preheat it
When cooking with your cast iron, the most important first step is to always preheat your skillet. The skillet doesn’t always heat evenly, but it holds the heat quite well. So just put your skillet on a low to medium heat for around five to ten minutes and it’ll be ready in no time.
- Sear your food on the skillet
The best and main reason most cooks like using a skillet is because of it’s searing capabilities. It gives meat and vegetables a nice caramelization on the outside that doesn’t only taste good, but also visually looks good. When searing, just leave your meat on the surface until it’s cooked on one side before flipping. If it still sticks to the skillet, it’s not yet ready. Once your food is seared, you can finish cooking it off inside the oven.
- Avoid cooking too much acidic food on your skillet
Roasting a few tomatoes on your skillet is fine, but avoid cooking loads of tomato sauce or other acidic food items on your skillet as it might kill your seasoning.
For beginners, cooking with a cast iron skillet can be demanding. But once you follow and get used to the tips and tricks we gave you, you’ll discover a whole lot of dishes that you can explore cooking with your new iron skillet!
If you’re on the lookout for new cast iron skillets, Gourdo’s is home to Lodge: a premium line of cast iron cookware with superior quality, and very affordable prices. You can head over to www.gourdos.com and explore our cast iron selection!
Video by Tasty
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