I use my cast iron skillet all the time when I’m cooking dinner.
This skillet and I cook the majority of our family meals together, as well as some special event food like Charleston Cheese Dip and Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls. But inevitably, after dinnertime is over, this is what I’m facing….
I know everyone says cast iron should be non-stick but let’s be real here. Cast iron ain’t T-Fal, y’all.
If I sear meat in cast iron, there will be a sludge of charbroiled blackness stuck to the pan when I am done, looking incredibly unappetizing and gross. If there’s cheese involved? Forget about it. It’s gonna stick.
But, I discovered that I can make very short work of my cast iron skillet cleaning routine with just three ingredients that I keep pre-mixed by my kitchen sink. I call it my Cast Iron Skillet Scrub, but actually this all-purpose sugar scrub also works great for cleaning anything gooey (like bread dough) off of my hands and utensils.
My cast-iron skillet cleaning routine goes something like this:
- Scrape all excess grease and blackened bits into the garbage can using a nylon scraper and paper towel. I don’t want that grease going down my sink and into my septic tank.
- Rinse skillet under scalding hot water while scrubbing pan with a nylon scraper in a circular motion.
- Drain out the water and dry pan completely with a dishcloth.
- Add a big scoop of skillet scrub and “exfoliate” the bottom and sides with a wad of paper towels until it’s clean. It usually doesn’t take too much scrubbing at this point.
- Toss the wad of paper towels and skillet scrub in the garbage.
- With a clean paper towel add one more super thin coat of flax seed oil, rubbing it all around the inside and outside of the pan and removing any leftover sugar. Be sure to remove all excess oil and just leave a very thin sheen.And that’s it- your pan is seasoned and ready to go for next time!
I originally made this recipe as a hand and body scrub using essential oils, but I found out that it works REALLY well on my cast iron, too. Don’t you love an all-purpose cleaning hack with just three ingredients?
Here’s what I use in the scrub:
Mix all these together and store in a glass container next to your sink. Then, whenever your skillets or hands are feeling gross, just scrub, scrub scrub!
You can substitute the sugar for a course sea salt. I have tried it both ways and don’t really notice a difference.
The lemon oil is optional, but I really like the cleaning power of the lemon essential oil since I don’t use any soap on my pan.
Other cast iron skillet care tips:
Clean the pan immediately after use. Adding boiling water to the pan while it’s still screaming hot will “deglaze” the pan and remove the stuck-on food fast. The quicker you clean it after you cook in it, the easier it will be. If you let the leftovers sit in it and get cold, be prepared to use more elbow grease to scrub out the stuck-on bits.
Do not air-dry. Never let water stand on your cast iron for any length of time. That means no air-drying. Rub it completely with a dry towel to remove any trace of water before you apply the skillet scrub and oil.
Rub it with flax oil after every use. You might not need to use the skillet scrub after every use, but you do need to re-season the pan with a quick rub of oil after every use. I do recommend using flax seed oil above other oils, since it’s been proven to give the best polymerization to cast iron above any other type of oil. It also doesn’t leave my pan sticky like some oils do.
Use it. The more you use your pan, the better it will be. Fry, sear, braise, saute… USING your cast iron skillet often is the best way to keep it in good shape.
Look at this happy little pan after he’s been freshly scrubbed! All ready to do it again tomorrow night.
Actually, I’m lying.
I’ll be headed to the Haven Conference in Atlanta tomorrow night so the hubs and the kids are on their own for the next four days!
WOOHOO. I’ll be back soon with an update.
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