Iron skillets are the oldest form of non-stick skillets! Not to mention you get a good dose of iron from using a good old iron skillet! So here’s how to keep it seasoned and non-stick…
First, if there is any rust on the pan (which can happen when it’s not cared for properly) give it a good wash with warm soapy water and scrub with a scouring pad to get it good and clean. THIS WILL BE ONE OF THE FEW TIMES YOU WILL EVER WASH THIS PAN FROM NOW ON! Normally washing a well seasoned iron skillet is a big NO-NO!
After you have it clean, dry it really good so that no more rust will set up. Then warm it up a little bit in your oven. Only heat it until it’s warm, and you can still handle it without hurting yourself. Take it out and put a little chunk of shortening in it – my grandmother called it ‘Oleo’ instead of Crisco or shortening. Stick it back in a 300 degree oven until the shortening melts. Take out the pan (Don’t be an idiot – this pan WILL BE HOT! And like all iron skillets it will hold the heat for a long long time so use a hot mat!). Using tongs or a thick bunch of paper towels coat the sides and entire bottom of the skillet with the melted shortening. Pour out any excess and continue baking the skillet for 2 hours. Then take out and wipe out any remaining shortening with another bunch of paper towels. (It will be hot again!) Let it cool and you should have a well seasoned and non-stick skillet.
You will have to be careful, because this is not teflon, it will take some up-keep to keep this skillet nice and slick. It is well worth it, for your family’s health! After cooking and once the pan is cooled enough to touch, wipe out anything left in the pan with a paper towel. It should be as clean as it was before you started!
Tips for keeping up a good skillet:
- Use enough butter/olive oil when cooking on the stove top to keep eggs or other items from sticking. The butter keeps the oil from burning and the oil keeps the butter from burning.
- Don’t cook on too high of a heat setting. Iron skillets hold heat well and distribute it amazingly evenly, so you may not need to cook on as high of a setting as you would have with another pan.
- Constantly moving the food you are cooking and scraping the pan with a metal spatula will help tremendously with keeping food from sticking.
- If you do get food stuck to the pan, scrape with metal spatula or wooden spoon getting a much as you can off, and if necessary run hot water in the pan and wash any food out. (NO SOAP!) I find that rubbing the bottom of the inside of the skillet with my hand while the hot water is running in it helps me feel and clean the inside. If you do end up having no other choice but to use soap, you will have to re-season the pan again!
- I like to have designated pans for certain foods. I use only one in particular for my cornbread. Then I have one for meats, and one for eggs, and such. But this is just me being really picky. And I live in the south and have many iron skillets. If you only have one, just protect it well with oil and grease and cleaning it as soon as you can. Don’t let an iron skillet sit with food in it! It’s not a “leave it an let it soak” kind of pan!
- You can use a dish towel to wipe out the pan, just designate one in particular that you will always use, because it will be greasy and dingy looking after a while.