Buy Once, Buy For Life: Cast Iron Cookware


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First, if your pan is brand new, wash it with soap and water. From here on out, you’ll only use hot water to clean your pan. Second, coat the entire surface of the pan with vegetable oil or lard until shiny but not dripping. Third, place your skillet upside down in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for two hours (placing tin foil on the base of the oven under your pan will keep your oven clean from drippings). Fourth, remove skillet and let cool. Fifth, repeat two more times for a natural easy-release surface that will last way longer than any chemically-coated non-stick pan as long as you take the proper care.

Today, many brands of cast iron skillets come already pre-seasoned. This means that you can skip this step altogether, but I found it helpful to do it anyways. In any event, your pan will only improve its seasoned surface with use.

How to clean your cast iron skillet:
As soon as possible after cooking, simply wash with hot water (no soap) and scrub with non-metal scouring pad or scrub brush to remove all food residue. Next, dry the skillet immediately with a dishcloth followed by a rub down of the cooking surface with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. I use my hands to rub the oil in, but if there’s excess oil, I use a paper towel or dish towel to wipe it up.

And most importantly, my favorite way to COOK meat with a cast iron skillet:

The greatest attribute of cast iron cooking in my book is that you can get a great caramelized crisp sear on meat which is the first step to super moist oven roasting.

Whether you’ve got a couple of great steaks, a pork tenderloin, a whole or split quarters of chicken, you can incorporate this cooking technique into many recipes. I even use it for better-than-on-the-grill burgers.

Step One: Make sure you’ve preheated your oven to around 350 degrees.

Step Two: Heat your cast iron skillet on medium-high heat for 2-5 min. Heat two skillets at the same time if you’re cooking for 3 or more people. Overloading a hot skillet will bring the temperature down too low for a good sear.

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  1. I have a 6 inch cast iron skillet that I found thrown into a dump in the woods in Arkansas in about 1949. The dump was at a house site but there had not been a house there in local known history and in fact the road to it had disappeared. It was probably in the dump 20 years at least. It looked it. I cleaned it up and my parents used it until about 12 years ago when it came to live with me. My 9 inch skillet came along in the early ’60’s and is in daily use now. My bride has a full array of cast iron pots and pans that are all regularly used. I don’t believe a single cast iron piece that we have is less than forty years old. We still have some Teflon and Tefal but they are pretty used up and going to animal feeding duty. I will not be falling for that stuff again.
    The cast iron is forever.

  2. Love cast iron skillets – I have 4 different sizes! They are truly, naturally non-stick. Talk about buying for live: just revitalized a large skillet that my husband’s grandma was given for a wedding gift and never used – it just sat in the dusty, moldy basement for 50 yrs.

    Didn’t know they were recyclable, thanks for sharing!

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