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Cast iron pans are an essential in every kitchen. They’re durable and made for the long haul — you can actually pass them down for generations. Not to mention they’re versatile, you can use them on the stove and in the oven. Best of all, each time you use a cast iron skillet you improve it by seasoning it. Seasoning is the process by which oil is baked into the iron, which makes it more nonstick and prevents it from rusting.
While a cast iron skillet is worth the investment, it does require care that’s different from other cookware. Here’s how to ensure your cast iron pan will become a family heirloom.
You’ll always want to preheat your pan before you start cooking. That’s because cast iron skillets don’t evenly heat the way nonstick and stainless steel pans do. You’ll know it’s ready when you pour a drop of water in it and it sizzles. Preheated cast iron pans will create a deliciously crispy texture on anything from fried eggs to seared meats.
Skip the soap and water
While cast iron pans are not exactly nonstick and can get a few stuck-on food bits, soaking the pan in water can actually cause the dishware to rust. Instead of using soap, scrub with thick, coarse salt like Kosher salt. The sediments are naturally abrasive but won’t damage the integrity of the pan’s coating.
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, $17.90 (Orig. $26.68)
But if your pan does rust, don’t give up on it yet. Just coat it in baking soda and scrub it with a raw potato. Potatoes contain rust-busting oxalic acid. Plus, they’re non-toxic and inexpensive.
Just be sure to sandwich your cast iron pan between paper towel pieces to soak up the moisture after cleansing.
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