Any tips for new cast iron skillet user?
Just got a Lodge 12" pre-seasoned skillet. I've read their tips on further seasoning and taking care of it. Seems kind of a pain, but they're supposed to get better over time from what I've read.
I used it once tonight, made some bacon in it like they recommend for the first few uses, or to use some other fatty meats to aid in seasoning the pan.
I got a stiff nylon brush for it. You're not supposed to use soap, so after cooking my bacon I took it off the stovetop (extremely hot, smoking up the house hot even though I had the heat on medium. Then I rinsed it with hot water and scrubbed it with the brush.
Finally I dried it with a towel, recoated it with a bit of crisco on the inside and outside and wiped the excess oil off. Pan is still very hot!
Hopefully I'm doing it right, and does anyone have a recommendation for a potholder that can withstand the heat this thing puts off? It seems to have burned my cotton one a bit.
Also, are cast iron pieces very sanitary, being that you're not really supposed to use any soap on them? I guess the heat takes care of all that?
We use either silicone potholders or those silicon gloves when needing a better grip. But basically I don't mess with the pan until it's cooled off. I'm sure it's some kind of cardinal sin but there are occasions where I don't do the pans from dinner til the next morning. We usually put all the dishes and stuff in the dishwasher, but sometimes I leave the pans go til the next day.
I have spray olive oil and the only thing I use it for is my wok and my iron skillet. Easier and quicker than actually wiping oil on the thing, and we've had no problems with rust or whatever.
Really, don't obsess over it too terribly much. There's a lot of advice out there, some of it conflicting, but if you follow Lodge's advice, I don't think you should have too many problems (and the pre-seasoning really helps from what I can tell). As long as you don't blatantly do something horrible (washing it with soap without re-seasoning, letting it sit in water for a long time, cooking too much acidic food in it right away), you should be Ok. And even if you screw it up, you can always strip it and start all over.
You don't really need to do the brush / hot water thing unless you've got bits of food stuck on the pan. Cook with lots of oil to start with. Deep frying is definitely good.
Sanitary-ness is overrated. Cast iron makes things taste good (AND gives you extra iron)! And over time, I think you'll find yourself forming some sort of emotional connection to it.
We have a couple of cast iron skillets and we just had to buy another one since we're undergoing renovation and my husband volunteered to make fried chicken at a friend's house. Guess what? We wash our skillets if they need it We don't obsess over all these cast iron pan bugaboos, and we're never had a problem. One of the best ways to season a new cast iron skillet is to make fried chicken, I can tell you that. Frying in the pan for an hour goes a long way towards seasoning it.
You are not supposed to soap them, to protect the seasoning, but that doesn't mean you should have bits of food on them either. But, cast iron isn't exactly a good growth medium for bacteria.
Take the batteries out of your smoke detector when you use it - it can put off a lot if you are searing the tar out of something.
You can let it cool after using - if you are taking a searing hot pan off the burner and then dousing it with water in the sink, well, don't do that.. and put it in the oven on low temp for a while after you rub your fat/oil in it.
Alton Brown said that he uses an elbow-length welding gauntlet... but along that vein, any decent mitt or welding glove would probably be fine, if you are doing really really hot cooking - like searing tuna... this isn't a pan that you need to move a lot.
Get one of those mesh skillet-cover when you are frying, to keep the hot fat from flying in little microscopic bits all over your stovetop.
Keep a fire extinguisher nearby (a good habit for ANY kitchen, not just because of cast iron).
Actually, I have found the best way to "wash" a cast iron skillet or wok is to get it hot, but not screaming hot, add about a tablespoon of canola oil and half a handful of table salt. Scrub the pan with a few layers of paper towles using the oil/salt slurry. This removes any food particles left and helps the oil penetrate better, as well. Just wipe out the salt when done!
I love my cast iron but have to throw this out there - if you are a lover of crisp bacon, absolutely nothing beats the microwave. This is the only way I cook bacon now (and one of the only things I use the microwave for).
On a flat plate such as a dinner plate, put 2 paper towels. Lay the bacon strips on top. It's ok if they fall off the edge. Top with another towel. Microwave. Depending on the strength of your wave, it can take 4 minutes or 6 or whatever. I set mine for 4 and check to see the progress; if it needs more time, I change the top paper towel, OR flip the whole mess so the top(s) are on the bottom and then change the tops.
The bacon comes out SO perfect crispy and all the grease is caught in the paper towels. The main trick is having tongs on a fork ready because if you wait til the bacon cools (plate is VERY HOT coming out of the microwave), bits of paper towel will stick (which can be removed without a lot of effort later, but it's easier when it's hot). So you pull the strips off the hot paper towels with the tongs, using the fork to hold down the towel.
Seriously. Someone showed me this a long time ago and I have never gone back to pan fried or oven-cooked bacon. It is a truly superior method.
I need to come back and read everyone's responses but right now I just have time to tell you what I do.
I seasoned it in the oven at 350 with thin layers of crisco.
I try to cook fatty foods in it wheneer possible even though I don't eat fatty foods as I am on weight watchers. So if I'm cooking the kids hotdogs (which are light), I'll cook them in some oil. I always take the opportunity to fry up bacon for family (which tends to leave stripes on my skillet but the stripes don't hurt anything), etc.
I actually cook eggs and boca burgers on mine and it works pretty well. The key is getting the temp right on the eggs and the boca burgers. Room temp eggs stick less for instance.
After using my skillet I often wash with the following method:
pour a cup of water in the hot skillet and then the stuck on stuff starts to sizzle and fall off the pan. Then I take the pan to my sink (is use those handle hot pads on it all the time). I take my yellow/green or blue/blue sponge with a nylon scrapey side and it usually has some residual soap in it. I scrub away real fast to get anymore stuck-on stuff - off. Then rinse. Then I stick back on the warm burner to dry it well. Often times I'll coat the paper towel with some canola oil and wipe in it and keep the stove on at medium for a while and just let it cook the oil on.
Lots of loving kindness later (but only 4 months later) and I'm loving these pans. i don't miss the nonstick junk I threw out 5 months ago.
Oh here are the mits I use on my handles. they work great and are cheap! I leave mine on the skillets all the time LOL.
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