The Only Way to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

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Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not exactly what you’d call a “culinary genius.” My idea of cooking is often limited to whatever I can toss into a microwave or, on a good day, fry up on the stove. But, my dear grandma? Oh, she was a maestro in the kitchen. Her cast iron skillets were like an extension of her own hands. Watching her cook was like attending a concert where the music was the sizzle of onions hitting the hot pan. And when she passed, she left me her treasured cast iron skillets. Despite my culinary limitations, I vowed to keep them in tip-top shape, as a tribute to her.

Now, for anyone who’s spent more than five minutes on the internet trying to figure out how to take care of these pans, you know the advice out there can be…a tad overwhelming. Soap or no soap? To season or not to season? It’s like trying to decode an ancient text. But, in my quest to honor Grandma’s legacy, I stumbled upon a simple yet effective way to clean and maintain these skillets, one that she used herself. 

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This method is a straightforward, grandma-approved technique for cleaning cast iron skillets. Simply apply a mix of olive oil, and salt to the skillet. Then, bake it in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes. Afterward, use a clean dish rag or paper towels to wipe it off. If any stubborn stains persist, just repeat the process until your skillet looks as good as new.

Now, why are cast iron skillets the holy grail for cooks? Let me count the ways. These beauties are unparalleled when it comes to heat retention and distribution. You want that perfect, crispy sear on a steak? Cast iron. Dreaming of evenly cooked, fluffy cornbread? Cast iron. They can go from stovetop to oven without batting an eye, making them the most versatile pan in the kitchen. By the way, now that we’re talking about cooking some delicious meals in cast iron skillets, these are the things that you should never cook in a cast iron pan.

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But, with great cookware comes great responsibility. Cast iron skillets are like the high-maintenance friends of the kitchen world; they need a bit of extra love to keep them at their best. Why is it so crucial to take care of them properly? Well, it’s all about the seasoning. That’s the natural, non-stick coating that builds up over time, making cooking and cleaning a breeze. Lose that, and you might as well be cooking on a rusty hubcap.

The greatest no-no when it comes to cleaning these pans? Letting them soak in water or scrubbing them with harsh detergents can strip away the seasoning and lead to rust. That’s why the “only oil & salt” method is genius. It cleans without compromising the pan’s seasoning. Plus, popping it in the oven helps to dry it thoroughly and maintain that perfect seasoning layer. And no to dishwashers, please!

A little oil, some salt, and a bit of oven time are all it takes to keep these culinary treasures in prime condition. And every time I cook with them (which, granted, isn’t as often as I should), I can’t help but feel a little of my grandma’s magic in the kitchen. Maybe one day, I’ll even graduate from microwave meals to something worthy of these pans. A grandchild can dream, right?