A well-maintained cast iron skillet can serve you for a lifetime.
Here’s why this remarkable kitchen tool is a must-have, and how you can ensure its longevity.
What is a cast iron skillet?
While modern-day skillets often comprise aluminium with a non-stick coating such as Teflon, others are made from copper or stainless steel, each having their unique advantages and disadvantages. In contrast, the cast iron skillet is made from pig iron and steel, heated to an incredible 1,500 degrees Celsius.
This molten mixture is then poured into sand-made moulds to shape the skillet. Unlike other frying pans, a cast iron skillet is usually more affordable and tends to outlive them by a significant margin. However, they are heavier than standard pans, so it’s advisable to handle them evenly with both hands.
While a cast iron skillet may take longer to heat up compared to other pans, it retains a consistent temperature over extended periods. Cast in a single piece, it doesn’t suffer from issues like a loose handle. Some antique dealers even sell cast iron skillets that are up to a hundred years old!
Contrary to popular belief, food won’t stick to a cast iron skillet if it’s well-maintained.
Caring for your cast iron skillet
Many new cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned from the manufacturer. However, to ensure an optimum non-stick surface, it might need a little extra seasoning. To season your skillet, apply a thin layer of oil all over the pan using a paper towel. You then “bake” the pan either in the oven or on the stovetop until the oil starts to smoke slightly, initiating the carbonisation process. This forms a polymer bond, resulting in a non-stick surface. The smoother this surface, the better it will release food.
The best uses for a cast iron skillet?
With its excellent heat retention properties, the cast iron skillet is a versatile addition to any kitchen. It can be used in an oven, making it ideal for baking, broiling, frying, roasting, and stewing. Above all, it is exceptionally good for searing proteins like steak or scallops.