Author: mini pops
Evidence of using iron dates back around 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, probably just from heating and hammering at first.
Even before writing developed, ancient Egyptians used iron from meteorites. Calling it “metal from heaven,” they believed it was a gift from the gods. And now it’s yours!
Benefits of Using Iron
Iron is durable, lasting for generations if properly cared for. It’s versatile, so you can use it over a fire, on the stove top, or in the oven. It’s reliable because once preheated, it cooks evenly and retains heat. And it’s healthful! The food actually absorbs a significant amount of iron, a nutrient often lacking in the modern human diet.
Iron rusts, so the trick to make it last forever is to keep it dry when not in use. That means a protective coating of oil. Think of the ways you care for your own skin. You wipe it down, you avoid harsh soaps, and you regularly massage in moisturizer. When too much gunk accumulates, you scrub it without scraping it up. As with skin care, there are variations often passed down from generations of ancestors. Here are some ways to clean your cast iron pan grill pan:
- Wipe it with a paper towel or lint-free cloth. Some users do it dry, some apply a small amount of oil at this time.
- A common alternative is adding hot water while wiping the still-hot pan. No soap. The heat and water loosen most bits of food.
- Use a rubber scraper or wooden chopstick for stubborn crust, but no metal utensils.
- Many cooks like to use to salt or corn meal to scrub the pan while it’s still warm. Why will you see tutorials specifying Kosher salt? It’s coarse. A coarse rather than a fine grit salt will do a better job of scouring because of the sharp crystal edges. If there is a large amount of baked-on crust you can soak the pan in hot water for a short amount of time. Then use a non-scratch rubbing pad or soft steel wool. People have gently used soft wire brushes and electric sanders to restore rusted and encrusted old pans. This also works for stinky crusts from fish, cheese, or eggs.
- Rinse with water and wipe dry. Heat the pan on the stove top at low to medium heat. You can bake it in the oven if you prefer, just as long as it gets bone-dry, like hot-bones-in-the-desert dry.
- Thinking about buying a new cast iron pan also a great idea, cos it’s really cheap.
Next comes seasoning.
Not as in adding flavor, but seasoning as in becoming experienced and capable. Like you – a well-seasoned cook! Seasoning with oil not only keeps your pan rust-free, but creates the shiny black non-stick coating that’s the hallmark of well-seasoned cast iron. Here are the steps:
- Massage oil over all surfaces of your pan with a paper towel or lint-free cloth. For a more tactile experience, use your fingers! Cooking oil or melted shortening or lard are all fine. Not butter. Not mineral oil or any non-edible product resembling WD-40.
- To help the oil soak in, heat the pan either on the stove top or in the oven. To use the oven, lay aluminum foil or a large, flat pan on a lower rack. Put your cast iron in the oven upside down so excess oil will drip down. Bake for an hour at 350-400 degrees.
- Remove, allow to cool, wipe off remaining oil, and go cook something good!
Does it seem that for every set of directions you get on how to do something, you always get another way that’s “better?” What are you supposed to do? Go consult other seasoned cooks! Compare notes with professionals as well as friends and family. Libraries and bookstores offer written materials, and often host live and virtual demonstrations.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Will eating a few flakes of burnt crud hurt me?
What if my pan sits for months or years without being cleaned?
What if it’s sticky after being seasoned? It’s normal for your pan to be a bit sticky until you’ve put it through a few cycles of cooking and seasoning. Apply the oil, don’t pour it.
Will bugs get stuck in the oil?
Bugs get stuck everywhere, but a seasoned pan is not at risk any more than any other pan. Lots of people love to display their cast iron as part of their kitchen décor. If you stack your cast iron pieces, layer them, including lids, between paper or cloth.
It’s Okay to Love Your Pan
Having a cast iron grill pan is like romance. Let it heat up slowly. Don’t put cold things in a hot pan or hot things in a cold pan. Exposing it to sudden changes in temperature will cause damage.
In our lives, sometimes inanimate objects take on special meaning. Who hasn’t known of somebody who loves his car as if it were a living being? It feels natural after years of hands-on care, surviving drama, and memories of home-cooked meals shared with others. Over thousands of years, individuals all over the world in the quiet of their hearths have savored that magical bond with their cast iron pans.