13 mistakes when caring for your cast iron skillet

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Why does cast iron rust? Chances are you haven't seasoned or cared for them the right way. It is extremely important that you season a brand new cast iron skillet and you should never clean cast iron as you would with regular pots and pans.

Why does cast iron rust? Maybe it is these 13 mistakes you making

The cast iron skillet is a great workhorse tool to have in your kitchen for a good reason. It is constructed from one whole piece of metal, heavy and quite indestructible. It conducts heat extremely well and doesn't stick when seasoned properly. So really, the trick is to trick your pan or skillet right and it will do all the work for you effortlessly. Here are 13 mistakes you should avoid when caring for your cast iron skillet.

1. When you don't season

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It is extremely important that your pan has a layer of polymerized oil that has been baked onto the surface. This means that your pan has been seasoned which makes your skillet non-stick, rust free and cleans up really quickly. Some cast-iron skillets are sold pre-seasoned. You can tell by it's smooth, non-greasy, softly lacquered surface. If your pan or skillet is brand new and isn't seasoned, you will need to season it yourself before using it.

2. Not seasoning correctly

Seasoning your cast iron doesn't mean just applying a layer of oil onto the surface of your skillet. That is not the right way to season your cast iron skillet and pan. To season it correctly you need to:

  1. Start by applying a thin coat of vegetable oil all over the entire pan. This includes the inside, outside and even the handle.
  2. Next, turn the pan upside down in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for one hour.
  3. Then turn off oven and leave the pan to cool down inside the oven.

3. Not cleaning it correctly

When you are done with cooking, rinse your pan in warm water. Sprinkle the pan with a bit of baking soda and scrub gently with a nylon brush. The baking soda will neutralise and clean off any flavour and odours from your last cooking. Why does cast iron rust? Water encourages it to rush so always remember not to soak your skillet. Also, if your pan is well seasoned you shouldn't need to soak it. Everything should wash off with a quick rinse and a thorough wipe down with a dish towel.

As maintenance, you can also apply a thin coating of vegetable oil while the pan is still warm.

4. Never using soap

Why does cast iron rust? Is it because you've been using soap? If you think that you should never use soap then you're wrong. Of course, a well-seasoned skillet will not require any soap. But sometimes, a little bit of soap will help clean up food stuck from a cast iron skillet mishap. Also a little bit of soap the skillet well or to help you if it gets rusted.

5. Using harsh chemicals

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While a little bit of soap is fine, you should avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning your cast iron skillet, even if it is rusty. Just stick to baking soda, a towel and only if necessary, use mild dish soap.

6. Not re-seasoning

Seasoning your cast iron skillet once is not enough. You DO need to season it quite regularly if you want a kitchen workhorse skillet that will last you a lifetime. This is because every time you use your skillet, you will wear down some of that seasoned coating. So remember to season it again whenever you see dull spots or do a quick season whenever you're baking or have your oven on.

7. Not using your cast iron skillet enough

However, the more you use your cast iron cookware, the better it performs. You do need to use it often enough so that it will darken and grow shinier.

8. Fearing the rust

Don’t worry if there is a small spot of rust on your skillet. You can remedy this easily. To remove it, you can simply wash with some mild soap or even scrub it with steel wool. Just be sure to wash and re-season before you use it again.

9. Forgetting to preheat

Cast-iron performs best when heated gradually, so give it a few minutes to pre-heat before adding your food so that there is less sticking.

10. Overheating your skillet

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Don't forget that your cast iron pan is a really good heat conductor. So start by heating up your pan using a lower heat setting. A tell-tale sign of overheating is when it starts to smoke. So to avoid the risk of burning your food, which would only result in residue on your pan, turn off the heat for a bit if it gets too hot before going back to cooking.

11. Using the wrong spatula

Don't be afraid to use a metal spatula with your cast iron skillet. It won't ruin your pan.

12. Not cooking acidic foods

It is a myth that cooking with acidic foods would cause discolouration of your cast iron pan. A baking soda scrub would get rid of any discolouring.

13. Your cast iron cookware is more durable than you think

So try to avoid all these mistakes listed above. If you have been wondering why does cast iron rust, maybe you've made one of the mistakes listed here. Don't sweat it too much. Just scrub it down, season it again, and all is good.

Your cast iron cookware is a lot more durable than you think. Now that you know how to correctly care for your cast iron cookware, maybe you won't be so reluctant to use them the next time. When it comes to cooking with your cast iron skillet, you can make it better with these tips to keeping them in tip-top shape.

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