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Storing cast iron skillets

momskitchen Jan 15, 2007 11:03 AM

I got rid of my cast iron skillets becauce I couldn't figure out how to store them when they are seasoned. I don't want to keep them on my stove top. I tired putting storing them in the oven, but I hated having to take them out of the oven to bake. I don't want to put them in the cupboard because they are messy. Where do you store yours? I miss my skillets....

  1. MMRuth Jan 15, 2007 11:59 AM

    I put paper towels in between my various skillets (cast iron or not) and store them in my horrible cupboard next to my stove and curse everytime I have to get one out of the stack.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth
      k
      Kelli2006 Jan 15, 2007 04:30 PM

      MMRuth, I rub them with a bit of cooking oil after cleaning and then dry it on the stove over very low heat for a few minutes and then store them in a cupboard , separated with a few sheets of aper towel.

      1. re: Kelli2006
        c
        ClaireWalter Jan 15, 2007 11:33 PM

        I do the same, but I confess that I don't bother w/ the paper towels. I just nest all my cast-iron pans in one stack, my Calphalon pots in another, my non-cast-iron saute pans in another, etc. I have one of those Rubbermaid (Rubbermade??) racks to store the lids vertically.

      2. re: MMRuth
        f
        foodstorm May 11, 2007 09:37 PM

        Ha ha MMRuth, I do exactly the same thing, including the cursing!

      3. NYChristopher Jan 15, 2007 02:34 PM

        Mark Bittman has a great bit on the ease of seasoning, so if you were concerned about seasoned pans getting mucked up (me, I get cat hair everywhere, so I'm sympathetic), you might want to reseason it the way he offers here:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/07/dining/07mini.html?ex=1291611600&en=1a662f5598f972c1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
        or
        http://www.tjm.org/articles/CastIronO...

        (S)easoning is simple, and maintaining it is even simpler. To season a new pan wash it well and dry it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while you warm the pan gently over low heat on top of the stove. Using a brush or a paper towel, spread a tablespoon or so of a fresh neutral oil like corn or grape seed in the pan; the surface should be evenly covered, with no excess. Put the pan in the oven, bake it for about an hour and let it cool in the oven.

        <snip>

        Once the pan is seasoned, routine washing can almost always be done with a scouring pad, not steel wool or anything else that will damage the seasoning (although the worst that can happen is that the pan will have to be reseasoned).

        Despite many recommendations to the contrary, a little mild soap won't tear off the seasoning.

        Cast iron can rust of course, but never if you dry it after washing and keep it out of rain and floods. If rust does appear, scour it off with steel wool or sandpaper, and reseason.

        1 Reply
        1. re: NYChristopher
          AmandaEd Jan 21, 2007 10:25 PM

          Thanks for this, Christopher! I overoiled mine last weekend when I seasoned it, so have been working away this week at scouring off the goopy oil residue. Will follow this advice tonight when I attempt the task again...

        2. a
          AnnaEA Jan 15, 2007 02:53 PM

          I keep mine in the drawer under the stove. My mother used to put nails up on the wall and hang her skillets near the stove - they stayed flat to the wall,and nothing could get on the cooking surface.

          Seasoning really isn't as fragile as it seems, especially if you use your skillet regularly -- I wash mine with a plastic scrubby and a little dish soap, then dry it on a burner and rub it with a little oil before putting it away. If it's really cruddy, I scrub it out with salt -- it cleans away the crud without messing up the seasoning.

          2 Replies
          1. re: AnnaEA
            HaagenDazs Jan 15, 2007 03:03 PM

            Yeah - I agree. While the surface of cast iron is virtually non-stick, you don't have to treat the pans like they are teflon non-stick. Stack 'em up, abuse the heck out of them and they will be no worse for the wear.

            What were you doing to them that kept them so messy (I assume you mean oily)? After a good seasoning, it's not like they have to be dripping with oil for storage.

            1. re: HaagenDazs
              a
              AnnaEA Jan 17, 2007 07:08 PM

              *lol* just using them.

              By cruddy I mean when the black sorta pebbly feeling that accumulates on interior sides starts moving down onto the bottom of the pan. My mother used to go after hers with steel wool when that happened, but I find that the salt works just as well, and it doesn't need to be re-seasoned. I save steel wool for the rare occasions (once every coupla years) when I am cleaning up a yard sale find for a wedding present or such.

          2. n
            Nyleve Jan 15, 2007 03:01 PM

            I wash my seasoned cast iron using dish detergent and a plastic scrubbie so that it's clean before storing. Then I spray with a light coating of Pam (or use veg oil if preferred) and wipe out any excess with a paper towel. Stays nicely seasoned, doesn't rust. Store with all my other pots and pans.

            1. Candy Jan 15, 2007 03:04 PM

              My seasoned cast iron skillets get washed and dried. They are clean and go into the pot cupboard with no problem and don't dirty anything close to them. Once well seasoned they can handle gentle washing.

              1. Gin and It Jan 15, 2007 04:38 PM

                Hang them in graduated order, smallest on the top to largest on the bottom, on a wall-mounted board with hooks attached. The handles go under the next one up to save room. Looks cool.
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                1. jbyoga Jan 15, 2007 04:43 PM

                  I hang mine - have a log cabin - works with the decor!

                  1. RShea78 Jan 15, 2007 05:06 PM

                    Being a tad bit handy with wood I made a skillet and pan tree in my second to last apartment.

                    Unfortunately when you build these they only work right in the place they were meant for. That is mostly because, they are built for that special nook or cranny of wasted space, not found in another place.

                    In another previous residence I had 3 planks cut to fit the sides and top of the refrigerator.

                    Anyway, each residence has probably someplace to work with once the idea hits.

                    -----

                    1. revsharkie Jan 16, 2007 02:06 AM

                      All my pots & pans other than the really big ones go in the drawer under the stove. The skillets stack on the left, with the two cast-iron ones on the bottom because they're the biggest. THey're just in there, just like everything else. I have no idea how my mom & grandma ever managed to cook without all this consternation about their cast iron.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: revsharkie
                        momskitchen Jan 16, 2007 06:28 PM

                        My guess is that they didn't worry about the mess!

                        1. re: momskitchen
                          revsharkie Jan 17, 2007 01:18 AM

                          I don't understand. What mess?

                          1. re: revsharkie
                            momskitchen Jan 20, 2007 05:19 PM

                            The black cruddy stuff that every well seasoned cast iron pan has....that's what makes the magic. Ask your grand mamma...

                            1. re: momskitchen
                              revsharkie Jan 20, 2007 09:16 PM

                              My pans are well seasoned, and they don't have any black cruddy stuff in them. If they did, wouldn't it come off in the food? That would be rather unappetizing, I'd think, and would definitely put an end to my using cast iron. I guess I still don't understand.

                              Can't ask my grandma. She's been gone more than 25 years now. One of my pans was once hers, I think.

                              1. re: revsharkie
                                RShea78 Jan 22, 2007 11:55 AM

                                I do not know what this fuss is over the black crud is all about , but I can only take it as a gas top tossing soot or lack of cleaning the drip pan. So magic is in being nasty, doesn't compute, I guess for the both of us.

                                Oh, momskitchen. I asked my granny and she said the same about the nasties of the burner. She added the charred offerings can also cause uneven cooking spots and the magic is all in the even cooking

                                Granny first cooked on wooden stoves (back in her "Little House" days) that allowed some creosote to build up on the CI skillets and the plate style burners. She had gramps cleaning up the skillets and the stove by rubbing them down with sandstone every so often and then wiping lard on the fresh surface. Now my granny learned just about everything from her mom (born 1893) so I take their word as gospel concerning CI at least.

                                -----

                      2. p
                        personalcheffie Jan 16, 2007 02:28 AM

                        The drawer under my oven is actually my warming drawer which I never use. They are in there, nestled with nothing in between them, along with the broiler pan and warming drawer apparatus that rarely gets used. My 15" Lodge is in the Laundry room, on top of the cabinets near the ceiling. It's the only place it'll fit.

                        1. k
                          kayakado Jan 16, 2007 02:56 PM

                          I store my non-stick and cast iron skillets in paper bags and then stack them on the pantry shelf.

                          1. s
                            swarttav Jan 16, 2007 03:04 PM

                            I just keep them in a stack in a cupboard. I wash them with soap and water and dry them immediately. All are used regulalry with dishes that require heated oil or fried bacon etc which provides sufficent re-seasoning. I used to oil them but don't bother anymore. I can't remember the last time I had to reseason one - maybe 10 years ago?

                            1. momskitchen Jan 16, 2007 06:27 PM

                              I didn't think about putting them in the drawer under the stove, but that's where I think I will put them. Who cares if that is dirty/oily? I have to buy some again now, since I got rid of my last garage sale finds. I sure do miss them.

                              1. m
                                MikeLM Jan 19, 2007 02:59 AM

                                Is a ceiling hanging rack feasible?

                                I keep ten or twelve iron or other black pots hanging from a rack in our really small (8' x 13') kitchen. The only problem is that, with an 8' ceiling, these don't accomodate anybody taller then my wife or me. We clear them by about 1/4".

                                When visitors or my two much taller sons come to visit, we have to take down about half of the pots so they don't bonk themselves silly while using the kitchen.

                                The Container Store has the basic ceiling rack, with appropriate hooks, that I used to put mine together. Be sure to find a ceiling joist and use a substantial lag screw, eye bolt, or other adequate fasteners to make sure you don't get bombed by your collection of pots.

                                Mike

                                1. r
                                  Russellkhan Jan 19, 2007 11:32 AM

                                  I keep 2 out of 3 of mine in the oven at all times, the other hangs from the pot rack. I'm not a serious baker, but I do make brownies & bread puddings and stuff like that pretty often. I find that keeping the cast iron on the top rack and lowering the middle rack by one extra slot, I don't have to remove the cast iron most of the time. About the only time I've had to remove the skillets & top rack I when roasting a pork picnic shoulder (i'd imagine I'd also have to do it for a ham or turkey, but I haven't done either of those (probably never will for the turkey - not that big a fan of the bird).

                                  I also figure that the skillets have a somewhat similar effect to a baking stone, in that they help to steady the temperature of the oven.

                                  1. mimilulu Jan 19, 2007 05:03 PM

                                    I store my cast iron pan along with my other cookware (le creuset and all-clad) on the bottom 2 shelves of my metro rack in my kitchen. Lids are stored either on the appropriate pot (keeps dust out) or vertically on a rack I have attached to the metro rack with tie wraps. Works for me!

                                    1. Will Owen Jan 21, 2007 11:43 PM

                                      Got two big roll-out drawer/shelves under the cooktop where I keep most of the pans, including skillets, grill pan and griddle. I never put them away the least bit gunky - on most of them, the seasoning is so old it's hardy as enamel anyway. When I finally am able to redo the kitchen I'm going to hang most of the pans either on the wall or from an overhead rack above my new island. At least that's the plan...

                                      1. FoodFuser Jan 22, 2007 05:48 AM

                                        Wall hanging as a functional decor motif.

                                        First I installed a sheet of formica on the drywall wall, ceiling to baseboard. These can be ordered at home depot in all variety of colors/patterns. The formica makes cleanup of the eventual wearmarks/greasemarks easier.

                                        Next, installed furring strips ripped from 2x4 to dimension of 1 3/4" by 1/2". Rounded the showing edges with sandpaper. Prepainted them. Installed these every 15" or so as horizontal strips, using 2" screws into wall studs on center.

                                        Did an initial mockup layout of all pans on the floor first to account for the big ones like the woks, and left gaps in the furring strips accordingly. Nested many of them 2 or 3 deep by matching diameter.

                                        To hang the pans, used 16 penny nails with pilot holes into center of furring strips at intervals measured by the floor mockup. After nailing, clipped the common heads from nails, leaving a spike that the pans' handles/loops will slide onto easily. These nails have never failed after 10 years, one of them supporting two 12" cast iron skillets. Every pan or frypan that has a stemmed handle is on the wall. Makes them easy to get to, easy to hang after a quick wiping, and easy to calibrate by eye which one you need for which task.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: FoodFuser
                                          Will Owen Jan 22, 2007 05:27 PM

                                          I think I'll prefer to use a system based on horizontal tracks with sliding hooks - I believe IKEA has something like this. That way I'm not stuck with fixed distances between the hangers, so if my mix of pan sizes changes (as it does from time to time) I can accommodate that. The wisdom of this occurred to me one day when I saw the tool-board in a friend's garage that had painted silhouettes of various tools to show where they were supposed to go, but the actual tools hanging there were very different, just because his tool inventory had changed since that board was set up.

                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                            FoodFuser Jan 25, 2007 05:54 PM

                                            Totally agree that sliding horizontals are better for one pan per hook system. My history is to duplicate purchase of each successful pan, so the 16 penny spike holds 2 of a type. And yes, I've had to tweak the lateral layout a few times in 10 years. Vertical layout is fixed no matter which system, and would require re-fitting.

                                            With either system, I'd still recommend a formica type buffer against the wall. Pans erode wallpaper and sheetrock. The formica is fun and easy to clean.

                                            Also hang my bamboo steamers in a row along the very top.

                                        2. c
                                          chip Jan 23, 2007 12:48 PM

                                          I would respectfully caution against using soap of any sort on a cast iron pan. It lifts the seasoning out of the iron and forces one to re-season the pan. I use water and salt, and sometimes a metal abrasive sponge-like thing. It takes about thirty seconds and the pan is clean. Every so often I heat up the cleaned pan and wipe it with grapeseed oil (which is my day-to-day fat for most purposes). My pans are beautifully seasoned, and they are a breeze to use and clean.

                                          1. NYChristopher May 11, 2007 09:22 PM

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                                            1. s
                                              swarttav May 14, 2007 02:50 PM

                                              Cast iron is simple and has been around forever. I wash mine with soap and water and dry them with a paper towel. If they need to be seasoned I typically use the piece to deep fat fry something which automatically re-seasons them. They are plain utilitatarian tools for great food. Frankly I have neither the time nor inclination for the various types of tomfoolery mentioned here and elsewhere on this site as to how to "take care" of cast iron. They are very simple pieces of cookware - it's not rocket science, rather a simple understanding of the dynamics of cast iron!

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