Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated December 20, 2021)
No kitchen is complete without an old-fashioned cast iron skillet, so you finally got your hands on a great one like your grandmother used to use. Now you'll have to learn to care for it like she did in order to keep it in good condition for years of use.
When you first get the skillet, wash and scrub it with a fine cleanser and steel wool. Dry it completely, and then rub cooking oil all over the inside. Place the skillet in an oven set at 300°F (150°C) for two hours. When you remove the skillet, wipe out any extra oil and wash it again with dish washing liquid and a soft scrubber. Always dry your skillet completely after washing.
Repeat this process (seasoning) whenever your skillet starts looking dry or dull.
Another method some use is called proving, which is very similar to seasoning. It is a good idea to prove a new pan as well as any pan that sticks to food when you're cooking with it. Once you have proved your pan or skillet, you will find that food is less likely to stick to it.
All you need is some salt and 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour the oil into the pan or skillet and sprinkle salt liberally all over the inside. Heat the pan over a moderate heat until it starts to smoke, then carefully rub the salt and oil well into the pan with a paper towel. Remove the pan from the heat and wipe it dry. Repeat this process twice more, making sure you have wiped out as much of the oil as possible before you start using the pan or put it away.
One of the main problems with cast iron pots, pans, and skillets is that they tend to rust very easily. You can protect your cast-iron items from rust by storing them with a paper coffee filter inside. The coffee filter will absorb remaining moisture and help prevent the rust. If you stack smaller iron pots inside larger ones, leave wax paper between them. The wax paper leaves a thin coat of wax on the pan and prevents air from interacting with the metal and any moisture.
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