When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I knew exactly what I wanted. An 8-inch unseasoned cast iron skillet. This would be my FIRST cast iron kitchen tool, can you believe it? Well, I guess that isn't entirely true. I do have several pieces of enameled cast iron.
Don't get me wrong, I love my enameled cast iron. The only thing they are missing is the 8-inch skillet. It is the perfect size for scrambling eggs for the kids. Not too big, not too small.
I don't know why I have waited so long to buy this $15 kitchen tool. Until this arrived on our doorstep, I have been cooking my eggs in this non-stick pan that we got as a wedding gift. Easy, does it there – friends! I can feel you all staring at me. Stop it. Baby steps, remember?
Moving on. Now I have this lovely skillet and I have to season it. I knew that I wanted to do my own seasoning because I didn't want any canola, soy, or vegetable oils in the skillet I would be cooking my food with. Why not? Mostly because they are rancid and genetically modified. I really didn't need any more reasons than those. I prefer to use the healthiest cooking oils for these kinds of tasks!
So, where to begin? All I knew about how to season cast iron was that I had to oil it and cook it and oil it and cook it, and that was about where my knowledge ended. Turns out, Google seems to know a lot about seasoning cast iron! A lot of websites had great advice that mostly turned out to be the same. So, I decided to wing it (kinda like how I do a lot of things around here) and see how I would do. I started with this shiny, new skillet.
To start, I preheated my oven to 350F degrees. While it heated up, I oiled my skillet with coconut oil using a paper towel. I just wiped it all over. Friends, don't do what I did and oil the bottom! For some reason, I thought this was necessary. In hindsight, I realized I would be placing this skillet on a hot stove. No oil needed on the bottom. (Sometimes I do stupid stuff.) When the oven was ready, I placed the skillet upside down in the middle of the oven and put a foil-lined cookie sheet underneath it. I cooked it for an hour then turned off the heat and left the skillet to cool in the oven. When it was cool, this is what I found:
I do want to mention that your skillet will smoke during the curing process. And it makes your kitchen kinda smelly. But it will be worth it, trust me.
The next day, I did it all over again.
And one last time for good measure:
I should be clear that each time I placed the skillet in the oven, I first wiped it with coconut oil.
Now I decided that it was time to inspect my work. I didn't think there was a test more fitting that scrambled eggs. I had my fingers crossed for non-stick. That was the idea right?
I made them how I always make them. Heat the pan, melt some butter, and add the eggs. The whole experience was beautiful. The eggs never stuck. They slid right across the bottom as my spatula did all of the work. My heart sang and I may or may not have done a little happy dance.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, there are a couple egg bits on the side. I am telling you, nothing was sticking during cooking. Nothing. I can happily say that I successfully seasoned my first cast iron skillet, and I am stoked!
Now what? I have a dirty dish. Do I just wipe it out? Rinse it out? Use soap? No soap? Again, google had LOTS of different advice. I decided to go with my gut on this one and rinsed it out using hot water and a scrubbie. I got all of the food off, dried it with a towel and then set it on a low burner on my stove to dry it out some more. Before I put it away, I wiped a thin (tiny bit, really) layer of coconut oil to make it happy.
I have used it many times, and it is going great. This curing method certainly worked for me and so far the cleaning and storing method is going well. What about you? What are your curing and cleaning secrets? Do tell! Are you still afraid of cast iron care? I am here to tell you, it is super easy. Now go get yourself one!