My husband said the only thing you are supposed to make with a cast iron skillet is biscuits...mainly because his grandma was a master of homemade biscuits so now that's all he can associate a cast iron skillet with. I'm beginning to think he may be right and I just have to get it through my head that "seasoning" does NOT mean non-stick. For example, I tried frying up potatoes the other day...things were just fine until I tried flipping them with a spatula, and instead of flipping, my potatoes clung defiantly to the skillet as if to say "Sorry, skillet wins. Now we will stick together and watch you panic as you frantically try to pry us apart. Muhuhahahaha..." Now the skillet AND the potatoes hate me. Same thing with ground beef, squash, and now even my beloved tortillas have joined the war. They all cling to her like their lives depend on it.
I've even tried to schmooze the skillet and only wipe it out with a paper towel instead of using water or soap...which still kind of grosses me out. Alas, it wouldn't fall for my gesture, and just tore up my paper towel and rolled the small pieces in oily wads and watched delightfully as I had to painstakingly pick out each one like tiny, little, 'F you' spit wads. So, finally I held up my white flag, gave the skillet another shellacking of oil and threw it in my oven where it now lives. Luckily, I have found as long as I keep her oiled up, she doesn't kill my tortillas...other than that she pretty much dead to me and stays in the dark oven cave.
After vowing to agree to disagree with my skillet, I hit the internets to find out what I was doing wrong. I found some really valuable tips that I never knew before. I may make friends with her after all...
- To season properly, coat skillet with oil or shortening, bake for 1 hr at 350 degrees. Or you can season by adding a thick layer of kosher salt in the skillet, putting a layer of oil on top of that (1/2 inch), heat skillet until oil smokes, pour out salt and oil, then wipe with a paper towel.
- Heat is important, make sure your skillet is hot before you put food in.
- Never put food straight from the refrigerator into the skillet, the drastic temp contrast causes food to stick. Food should be close to room temperature.
- Never boil water in your cast iron skillet, it will rust.
- Be patient, don't flip your food too soon. Wait until it gets a good sear on the outside, then flip to avoid sticking.
- Never put in the dishwasher.
- Always coat with oil when you are done (learned this from Grammy, not the internet).
- If your skillet is hot, don't put it under cold water, it could crack
- Wash with mild detergent and scrub brush if you have sticky stuff on the skillet, or wipe out immediately with a paper towel after use. If you let it soak the skillet will no longer be seasoned, so you'll have to season again.
- If your food starts tasting metallic, re-season your skillet.
- Don't store foods in your skillet, the acids will break down the oils.
- Cooking with an cast iron skillet adds iron to your food. This is good, and is a fun fact I never knew, however don't cook tomatoes in your skillet because the tomato's acidity will react with the iron which could cause your tomatoes to turn a dark color and taste metallic as it soaks up the iron. Share this tip with your anemic friends!
- Cast iron skillets can last a lifetime if they are properly cared for (my grammy still uses the cast iron her mom used), non-stick pans only last up to 5 years.
- Oh, and don't forget, the handle gets HOT, so use a mitt or pot holder :)