Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Little TLC for Your Skillets!

Cast-Iron and carbon-steel skillets are two definite kitchen essentials!  But, how do you season and care for one of these tender babies?  It’s actually quite simple, and once you learn how to fulfill their needs, you’ll fall in love with them. 

Step 1-Seasoning:
Most cast-iron pans are already pre-seasoned when you buy them, yet this is not the case for carbon-steel pans and skillets.  Upon opening your new carbon-steel skillet, give it a good rinse with water, take notice of its silver color and then place it on the largest burner on your stove.  Turn on the hood/vent fan above your stove and open a window to ensure good air circulation.  Light (gas is ideal) the heat to high and allow any remaining water to evaporate from the pan.  Then, take a small amount of extra-virgin coconut oil and smear it evenly over the entire surface of the pan using a cloth towel.  The oil will smoke as you burn the fat into the pan, for about a minute.  Once the pan stops smoking, re-apply another thin layer of coconut oil and burn it into the pan again.  Continue this process until the entire surface of the pan becomes black.  Yes, I said black.  This process will take several minutes, but once it becomes seasoned, theoretically you should never have to repeat this step again.  The trick is to only apply a thin, even layer of oil as you do so.  Be careful, because more is definitely not better in this case!   Some people say boiling potato skins works too, but I prefer the method I described above.  After completing these steps, your pan is now ready for use.

Step 2-Cleaning:
You don’t want to remove all of your seasoning efforts and have to repeat step 1, do you? Of Course not, so the secret here is to keep the soap (unless you like the flavor of soap) and sponge away from these pans.   After cooking with your pan, you can wipe it out with a dry towel to remove any food debris.  If any food particles are being stubborn and sticking to the pan, take a small amount of salt and scrub the pan with a dry towel.  Then remove the dirty salt.  You can give it a rinse with water after doing this, but remember no soap or sponges please!  If you have food bits that are sticking adamantly after using the salt and dry towel, then you may fill the pan halfway with water, place it on the stove and bring the water to a boil for a few minutes.  This should lift any last pieces of food, although usually this step is unnecessary. 

Step 3-Storing:
After cleaning your pan, place it on the stove and turn the heat onto high for about a minute.  Then turn off the heat and lube this baby up with a thin, even layer of extra-virgin coconut oil.  Just like our skin, these pans love to be moisturized with healthy fats.  Let the pan cool and store in your cupboard as usual. 

Follow these tips and be on your way to healthier cooking.  Let me know how you like your new pans and if I can help you trouble shoot along the way. 

Yours In Cooking & In Health,
Siona J

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