Cast iron care really isn’t that difficult. The most important thing is to use the pan. If a pan is used regularly, with a light coating of oil, and a good cleaning every now and again, it will season itself.
Mike Vrobel, April 2014, Cast Iron Care, DadCooksDinner.com
Why don’t I take my own advice?
The problem is, I want to be like Jeffrey B Rogers in his awe-inspiring cast iron YouTube videos. I see his collection of cast iron and think “What a great idea! I too should have a closet full of black iron pans!” Then, the next time I’m passing through Lehman’s hardware, I pick up another piece. I mean, why not? It’s only $15 for a 10.25 inch cast iron skillet.
Why can’t I be like Jeffrey? Because it’s not about the closet full of cast iron, it’s about taking care of the cast iron. Jeffrey cares about his cast iron, and cares for his cast iron. Me? I care about my cast iron - once every couple of days, when I pull out a skillet to help with dinner. Then I’ll clean it off and toss it back in the cabinet. I’m not an everyday cast iron user. That was OK when all I had was the 12 inch skillet. But, with multiple skillets, I don’t use any one of them enough to really build up the seasoning. Sunday morning Sausage Gravy? Out comes the big 12 inch skillet. A side of shredded brussels sprouts on Tuesday? It fits perfectly in the 10 inch skillet. Tortilla pizza for the kids on Friday? The 10 inch griddle is the obvious choice. A week has passed and my 12 inch skillet hasn’t been used again…after I weakened its seasoning with simmering sausage gravy. And if I go on a grilling binge or a pressure cooker jag, a couple of weeks may pass before I get back to my 12 inch pan. 1
A few weeks later, I pull out the big skillet and see discoloration on the surface. Why isn’t it black and shiny? 2 Is that flaking? Maybe some shiny parts, or a hint of - gasp - rust? I scrub the pan down and run it through a seasoning cycle.
What I should really do is use the pan more. If I made the gravy, brussels sprouts, and tortilla pizza all in the same pan, I’d improve the seasoning, not weaken it. 3
The right thing to do would be to get rid of one of my skillets, either the 10.25 or the 12, to force myself to use the same pan all the time. 4 But…oh, that’s hard. I don’t want to give one of them up. The 10.25 is perfect for side dishes; the 12 inch is big enough for main courses for my family of 5.
But I have to do it. So, I’m giving up my…sigh…10.25 inch skillet. I think. Ugh, this is hard. Wish me luck.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Things I Love: 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet
Why Use Cast Iron?
Seasoning Cast Iron
Cleaning Cast Iron
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My grandmother owned a plethora of very old cast iron with beautiful seasoning that she never used all the time. Some pieces were used daily, yes, but there were the few that were used rarely, maybe once or twice a year for special occasions, that looked just as nice. She used pure peanut oil generously, scrubbed the heck out of them with burlap (they owned a farm) and put them on the picnic table in the sun. She would bring them in in the evening, wipe them clean with scraps of muslin and pronounce them seasoned and ready to store or cook with. I have kind of followed along as far as using peanut oil, scrubbing them down with burlap and cleaning them out with muslin, but mine go in the oven instead of in the sun. And my pans are fantastic!
hello world, I totally agree that cast iron needs to be used! ????
I assume you're using flaxseed oil to season them? Cook's illustrated did a kitchen test and discovered that flaxseed oil made the quickest and darkest pantina. I followed their advice, and they were right! So now I give in about once every six months and pull out all my cast-iron and do an in-oven-seasoning with flaxseed oil. I use regular oil for a quick wipe most of the year, because it's more convenient. But flaxseed oil is impressive; I even used it on my carbon steel wok ( that I rarely use), and that wok looks extremely well used. So after discovering flaxseed oil, I now rarely have an issue :-). One word of caution: put the flaxseed oil on thin-ish and do a couple coats as necessary for the initial Pantina ---otherwise the thick pools of it can become sticky.
Mike V says
My experience with flaxseed oil has been more mixed. I did head to head tests with flaxseed oil and regular oil, and didn't see much difference: https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/2015/04/seasoning-cast-iron.html/
I still have the big bottle of flaxseed oil in my refrigerator, and I use it to season my pans. But, when it runs out, I don't think I'm going to replace it.