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How to Clean and Season Cast Iron

Cast iron skillets have seen a resurgence in recent years. They remind us of simpler times; however, thinking about their upkeep certainly does not make most people think “simple”. Luckily, learning how to clean and season a cast iron skillet is easier than you think. Read along as we give you our insider tips on keeping them in perfect condition.

Why We Love Cast Iron

It is no secret that we are all about cast iron here at Wind & Willow . We have recipes like Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos and Hot BLT Potatoes that are served up in cast iron skillets, and we have a whole line of Hot Dips with packaging that features smaller versions of the cookware. The following are just a few of the many reasons we love them:

  1. They are nostalgic: Some of us have been around to witness the rise, fall, and rise again of cast iron skillets. In the last 10 years there has been a resurgence of this cookware that holds good memories for many.
  2. They last forever: If you don’t want to buy a new cast iron pan, no worries! Flea markets are filled with these abandoned beauties just waiting to be restored to their former glory. 
  3. They are non-stick: When a layer of oil is heated past the smoking point on the surface of the pan (this is known as seasoning), it creates a smooth, protected non-stick layer.
  4. They hold heat well: Cast iron tends to be thicker than other pans, so it can hold heat longer, making it ideal for serving items that you want to keep warm.
  5. They are beautiful: The dark black color of cast iron creates the perfect backdrop to showcase your culinary creations.

How to Clean Cast Iron

If you have bought a new cast iron from the store, you can skip this step for now. Cast iron only needs to be thoroughly cleaned if rust forms on the surface of the pan. Use steel wool to scrub the pan while it is dry. Once the rust is lifted, scrub it with a scouring pad along with mild dish soap and warm water. Rinse and thoroughly dry the surface of the pan. Immediately season the pan to avoid rusting in the future.

How to Season Cast Iron

Most new cast iron pans come already seasoned, in which case you can also skip on down to the next section. If you bought your skillet used, or your trusty old pan could use some love, this is the best way to easily season your cast iron skillet.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, place a small amount of vegetable oil in the pan. Using a clean paper towel spread the oil over the surface of the pan in a sweeping motion. Coat both the cooking surface and the outer surface of the pan in a thin layer of oil (too much oil will cause the surface to become sticky). Next, place the skillet face down on the center rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove the pan and allow to cool before storing in a dry place.

How to Care for Cast Iron

To prevent rust in your cast iron pan and to help it retain its non-stick qualities, there are just a few steps to take after each use. First, pour course salt onto the cooking surface while it is still warm and rub with a rag. This will get up any bits of food left on the surface. Next, rinse the skillet under warm water and dry thoroughly. Place a couple teaspoons of oil on the cooking surface and coat the inside of the pan using a paper towel. Lastly, place on the stove over medium heat just until it starts to smoke. Cool and store in a dry place.

And That’s It!

It requires a bit of extra work to get your cast iron skillet in working order and to care for it after use, but once you’ve learned how to clean and season a cast iron skillet, it is completely worth the nostalgia that it will bring to the table. Once you purchase a cast iron pan you will never need to purchase one again – unless like us you want to have one in every size possible. Comment below with any other tips you have for how to clean and season a cast iron skillet.

We love to see what delicious Wind & Willow recipes you are serving up at your gatherings. Tag us @WindAndWillowFoods with a picture your favorite way to use cast iron with Wind & Willow for a chance to be featured on our page.

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