(Diane Ferreira, owner of Worth Beyond Rubies and Live 31, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com. We are not compensated in any way for reviews of any products on the site.)
I LOVE cooking with my cast iron skillets!! Since I live in the South, it is so much fun to cook traditional Southern meals/desserts/breads in my skillets. I am going to share some tips here for using cast iron cookware and then in the blog section under ‘Cooking’ I will be posting more tips and sharing some great recipes!
“She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her female servants.” Proverbs 31:15
Well, I don’t know about you but I am NOT a morning person!! I get up early but I don’t function well!! I begin work at 6am so I don’t typically cook in the morning. My kids have never been big breakfast eaters so I get off easy there. They are usually satisfied with cereal or toaster waffles. When my oldest was little I would make eggs in the morning, but she was really the only egg eater out of them. I do make breakfast for my husband in the morning, but that consists of a Shakeology shake! And I don’t eat until late in the morning myself! So I admit, I don’t use my skillets much in the morning! But I do love using it for dinners and desserts!!
NEW OR USED?
Why not both!? There is something awesome about an older skillet! The beauty of cast iron cookware is it can virtually last forever if taken care of!! If you are fortunate enough to have a mother or grandmother who passed down a skillet to you, then you are blessed indeed!! If you are like me, you have to start from scratch! But you can find some amazing skillets at yard sales, flea markets, online, Goodwill, etc. Don’t shy away from slightly rusted ones either! Some rust on a skillet can be easily removed!! And I will go into that in a minute! For new skillets, I recommend Lodge, which is what I have here…
I will post a link to this skillet on the sidebar for you!
So once you have a skillet, new or used, you will obviously want to wash it. Some warm water with a little bit of soap will get it clean for you. If you purchased a used skillet you can also use a brush with some Kosher salt if it needs deeper cleaning.
After it is cleaned you will want to make sure you season it! If you bought a new pre-seasoned skillet you will STILL want to season it. I find that a well seasoned skillet is best!!
What is seasoning? It is adding a protective and non-stick (for lack of a better way of saying it, although I will tell you it will likely never be non-stick…it is not teflon, it is cast iron!) layer to your pan to keep it in good condition and to make cooking and clean up easier. It is done with oil and it is a process called fat polymerization. You can research it further if you’d like. I won’t get into specifics of it here.
For seasoning., I find flaxseed oil is best. Soybean oil is second best and then canola oil. Vegetable oil is not one I would recommend for seasoning, although it is fine for cooking in.
HOW TO SEASON CAST IRON COOKWARE:
There are two methods you can use to season your skillet; stovetop or oven. I prefer using the oven but I will share both methods with you.
Stove Top Seasoning – Put the skillet on the stovetop and heat well. Get it nice and hot! Remove from the heat and rub in a light coating of oil with a towel. Get it nice and coated but a THIN coating. Don’t use too much oil or it will get sticky. Then let cool and put away!
Oven Seasoning – Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour some oil onto a towel..I use paper towels for this. You want to use a decent amount of oil to coat the pan but not too much. You want just enough to get into the metal but not leave a heavy coating on the pan. Don’t worry if you don’t get this right the first time. If you use too much it will leave a sticky layer on the pan and that can be removed and you can just do it again. Knowing how much oil to use is really trial and error and depends on the pan size, age, etc. Just start with enough to lightly coat the pan and rub it in. Then you want to put the pan in the oven, upside down with a pan or something to catch drippings placed on the rack below it. Then just leave it in the oven for an hour. Once it is done, take it out, let it cool and put it away until ready to use.
Used too much oil? – Just use a brush with some Kosher salt to scrub off that layer of oil. I find it easiest if I warm the pan on the stovetop a little first. Don’t heat it too much…just enough to warm it. Then start the process again!
This may seem like a LOT of work…but trust me, it’s not. It is just in the beginning until you get used to how much oil works for your skillet. Sometimes people give a blanket instruction on how to season but it really depends on the size, type and age of your skillet. An older skillet may need less oil since it has been seasoned so often.
So that leads to the next question….
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SEASON MY COOKWARE?
Well…the answer is…it depends. It depends on how often you use it, what you cook in it, etc. There really is no hard and fast answer. Basically I season after EVERY time I cook something acidic in it, like something with pasta sauce. Now, some people will tell you not to cook anything acidic in it at all. I say that’s nonsense. If you have a properly seasoned skillet, the layer of oil will protect your cookware. Just be sure it is properly seasoned AND that you season it again afterwards to restore that oil layer to it.
Other than when cooking something acidic, re-season after a heavy washing (if you need to scrub it to remove food) or after you see food is sticking to it quite a bit. You will learn over time when your skillet needs some attention. It will be like an old friend who tells you when they need some TLC. It is one of the best things about them…no two people have the same cookware so they are as individual as you are!! I don’t believe you can season too much so err on the side of too often than not enough!!
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR COOKWARE WET!!
It is cast iron and therefore can rust. It is important you keep it out of water and nice and dry! After washing, you should dry thoroughly. You can do this by wiping it down thoroughly but I find oven drying is best if you have time and don’t need to season it. I towel dry and then turn my oven on to 200 degrees and place my skillet in there for a half hour to remove any excess moisture. Then I let cool and put it away until next time! Remember, with metal…moisture is not your friend!!
AND ABSOLUTELY NEVER, EVER, EVER PUT YOUR CAST IRON COOKWARE IN THE DISHWASHER!!! HAND WASH WITH VERY LITTLE IF ANY SOAP!! Some people don’t use soap every time. They will wipe it clean! Depends on what you cooked I guess!!
If you find some rust on your pan, no worries. Wash it and scrub with a brush and some Kosher salt until the rust is gone! Then season and put away! Make sure you DO season it after doing this!
So that’s my tips for purchasing, cleaning and seasoning your cast iron cookware! Keep an eye out on my blog (or better yet, subscribe for updates and follow me on Facebook) for great tips and recipes!! I will have you cooking like a Southerner (or like the Southerner you are!) in no time!
And as a treat….I will share this recipe that is one of my FAVORITES!! It is Tricia Yearwood’s Skillet Apple Pie! It is super fast and SO delicious!!! This is a great weeknight dessert when you’re short on time!!
NEW Product Review!
Kitchen Aid Mixer Cobalt Blue
My husband recently bought me this mixer and can I just say, I am in love! I have been wanting one for a while but I really hadn’t been doing much baking until recently. Now I don’t know that I can stop!! It has made baking SO easy and I never want to use a hand mixer again! I am spoiled for life!!! It comes in a variety of colors and with different options for mixing bowls. You just can’t go wrong with this and I know you will love it!! Add it to your list for Santa!! I am adding a link to it on Amazon on the sidebar for you!!
Power Pressure Cooker XL – 10 QT
So I recently purchased this item with a bit of skepticism and a bit of fear actually. I am a traditional cook for the most part and have never used a pressure cooker, nor have I known of anyone personally who used one. I saw the infomercial for this item one morning and I admit…I was intrigued. I use a slow cooker quite often for the convenience of it. Maybe, just maybe this pressure cooker could afford me the same convenience BUT much quicker!! So I bought it. I was particularly interested in the canning aspect of it so I bought the 10 QT model.
First, I waited a while for it. It was backordered and it took a couple of weeks to be delivered. When it did arrive I sat and read through the instructions. I also watched videos on it on You Tube…and I recommend doing that. I then did what they suggested and ran it once with just water and that helped me work out some of the ‘bugs’ that were solely operator error! I had cleaned it beforehand and I think I just had some trouble with the rubber gasket and then the pressure valve but it was easy to work out. Just know that the valve is a bit wobbly so you have to be sure it is turned to the circle with the dot in it….it has to be turned precisely.
So the next day was going to be day 1 of actually cooking food in it. I decided to try the beef stew recipe found on their You Tube page. I was still skeptical about the prospect of cooking a whole beef stew in just a few minutes but I went ahead with it. Let me tell you this…it was by far the BEST beef stew we have ever had. Hand down! Not only was the recipe amazing but the food was cooking perfectly and the meat was so tender. I am sure I drove my husband crazy because all I said for about a half hour was, “I can’t believe it!! Why have I not known about this sooner!!??”
Oh I am not the only one sold on this cooker that seems to be sent from Heaven!! My husband started cooking ‘guy food’ in it! Together we have both cooked ribs, chicken wings, and Low Country Boil…and we have only had it for 2 days!! I have not yet tried canning but that is on the agenda for this week!!
So if you have seen the infomercials and are wondering if this thing is worth the hype? It is!!! Now I cannot speak for how it compares to other pressure cookers since I have never used one before but this has cooked to perfection each and every time! I will post an update when I get some canning done!!