INDIANAPOLIS - I have quite the collection of cast iron kitchenware, including a Dutch oven, several generational hand-me-down skillets of many sizes, muffin pans and even a "corn-on-the-cob" shaped cast iron pan.
Not all are in heavy rotation, as I stick to using one small skillet for cornbread and an even smaller one for making caramel.
Although some do not get used as much as others, it's imperative to make sure all of your cast iron cookware is properly cared for to ensure the longevity of the surface.
You'll want to season your pans well before using them. This applies to both new and old cast iron. The surfaces of new skillets are just as important as older, even rusted ones.
First, make sure your pan is clean. Rinse it out with hot water and dry well. Take some cooking oil or shortening and rub it into the cast iron with a rag or paper towel to fully coat the inside.
Place the pan inside your oven, and then slowly heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Let the pan "cook" for 15 minutes, and then remove it to pour out any excess grease.
With the oven still at 350, put the pan back in and let it season for two hours.
You can repeat this process several times to ensure you've seasoned it well.
Cast iron cookware is not only an asset to your kitchen cooking arsenal, but can also stand the test of time. Take care of it, just like your grandmother may have done. This is why many cooks have cast iron that was used by their grandmothers.
Cast iron tips:
- Don't let water stand in your cast iron. It will cause rust and will break down the seasoned coating.
- Don't use soap or cleaning products on cast iron. Hot water and steel wool are all you need. Soap and cleansers are hard to remove as they can get into the pores of the iron, weakening the metal and your seasoning.
- Heat cast iron slowly, otherwise you could not only burn your food, but end up with a damaged pan.
- Pouring cold water in a hot cast iron pan can cause it to crack. Try and avoid this at all costs.
- On new pans, try and avoid any foods high in acidity, as this can cause the seasoning to break down.
One thing I cook consistently is cornbread. Part of the cooking process also helps to season the pan.
Twinkle's Favorite Skillet Cornbread:
3 tbs. melted butter
2 cups corn meal mix (I usually use Aunt Jemima)
2 tsp. sugar
1 ½ cups buttermilk
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place your cast iron skillet in the oven so you can heat it up slowly.
- Mix your cornmeal mix and 2 tsp. of sugar in a large bowl.
- Whisk your eggs and buttermilk in a separate bowl. Mix slowly with the dry ingredients until they just come together.
- Once the oven has reached 425 degrees, take out your skillet and pour the butter into the cornbread batter and mix quickly. Pour the batter into the hot skillet and place in the oven.
- Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top.
- Take pan from oven and immediately flip out the cornbread onto a plate upside-down to cool.
Pro-tip: A well-seasoned pan is a well-used pan. The more you use it, the better it will maintain its carbonized surface, and the tastier your food will be.
For more on food and for more recipes check out twinklevanwinkle.com.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked 300 apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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