Cleaning cast iron skillet may become one of the hardest housework to do in the kitchen for some people. The lack of information about how to clean it well becomes the main reason for the difficulty. Cast iron skillet is a no-soaper one that will end you to a sadness condition if you ever touch the pan with your sudsy sponge.
Because a cast iron is a special cookware that needs special care, you should know well about the cookware cleaning. In fact, cast iron cleaning is not that too hard task and the rules of the cleaning process shouldn’t be very strict.
For those who are still confused of how to clean a cast iron skillet and maintain it well, some information below may be so much helpful. So you will have a cast iron that is always in best condition as favorite cookware.
Preparation Before Start Cleaning
If the cast iron skillet is new, you should give first seasoning. You can do it easily by making protective coating on the pan by using a little oil and then heat the pan. When the pan receive the heat, every layer of the oil will become very thin so it becomes coating that looks like plastic. If you have made the protective coating, the pan will be protected from rusting, which can easily and rapidly occur only by letting the pan sit on the open air. Besides, the coating will also make the cast iron skillet very useful.
When you have made the first coating, then you should use the pan often and it is a very important step too. Use the pan to cook anything that uses oil or fat such as frying bacon, searing meats, frying chicken, sautéing veggies, etc. Every cooking process by using the pan will make more and more layers and then make the cast iron even better. Yet, you also should know well about the right way of cleaning cast iron skillet so that the pan can be always in good condition.
Cleaning Cast Iron Skillet
When you finish using the cast iron and leave the dirty surface, then the next job should be the cleaning of the pan. You also should understand about how to clean cast iron skillet too so you can use it all the time. Many people believe on the no-soaping characteristic of the pan, because the soap will easily damage the seasoning layers you made on the surface as you clean the dirt away. Actually, although the seasoning is made from fat, a thorough transformation or polymerization has been done so the seasoning will not be stripped away for the using of soap, particularly the gentle soap like we have mostly today.
The seasoning can be removed by steel wool, high temperature heating without fat in a long time, electrolysis strip, or strong lye solution soaking. It means that the removing of the seasoning layers from a cast iron skillet also needs effort. So, you can use a sponge and some dish soap to clean your cast iron pan without need to worry that the seasoning will be stripped away.
After you have used the pan, clean the pan by using some warm water mixed with soap and use a sponge to wipe. Use the synthetic scrubber on the back of the sponge when you get some stubborn bits of burnt-on. If the scorched pan is too difficult to clean, try to pour some salt into it and then set over a high heat. Then rub the burned gunk by using some paper towels. The salt will not stripped away the seasoning and the heat will carbonize the remaining food sticking on the pan surface. Finish with rinsing the sat out and wash it with soapy water.
Dry the Cast Iron
Cleaning cast iron skillet should be perfectly done by drying the pan perfectly. Never leave the pot wet because water is the main enemy of cast iron. Even though the seasoning has protected the cast iron in layers, but it will never stop the persistent oxidative fight between the water and iron. So, you have to make sure that the water has been dried out perfectly after washing. Use a towel to absorb all water from the surface of the pan. Next, set the clean pan over a high flame after the towel drying. It will help evaporating rapidly so every moisture inside the pan will be totally dried.
Lightly Layer some Oil and Heat Again
Before you put away the cast iron skillet, make sure you do the last but very important step. It is the layering one more protective seasoning. Rub the pan surface very lightly with unsaturated cooking fat such as vegetable oil, canola oil or corn oil. The layering should be very light and be sure that you have buffed away all greasiness you see, so it doesn’t seem you are just oiling the surface.
Next, heat the cast iron pan once again in about two minutes so that you can see the skillet is heat through totally and create light smokes. To more even heating, you can use your oven for the heating process. If you think that it is burdensome process of how to clean a cast iron skillet, you can use your stovetop for the fast seasoning step for the last time. The last seasoning is important to do because if you only rub with oil without heating it. The oil will be stinky and sticky before you should use it again next time. Wash the pan with soapy water if it accidently happens. Then dry and heat the pan, and it is ready to be used for cooking again.
That is all the easy process of cleaning cast iron skillet. Remember the steps and how you should keep the seasoning and water-free surface so that the pan can always be in good condition. Maintain and clean the cast iron well will make it always ready to use whenever you need to cook with this special cookware.