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Cast Iron Care Tutorial

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Do we have to post tutorials about computers? Believe it or not, there is a life out there away from computers. You never know when you may get unplugged, so how about some practical information for a tutorial?I have watch the tutorial section here longingly ever since I started posting at Trap 17 and always wished I could come up with something fitting. All the tutorials I read here seem to deal with computers, and most of the time I don?t even know what the poster is talking about. Then one day as I was hiding my skillets so my dish washer wouldn?t try to wash them, a great topic occurred to me. Over the years I have had several different part time house keepers, and not one single one of them knew how to clean a cast iron skillet. So I have to assume the general public probably doesn?t know either. One housekeeper in particular stands out in memory. I still laugh every time I think about that crazy woman. I specifically told her, ?Do not wash my cast iron skillets in the sink in soapy dish water.? I walked in on her one day and found her holding the skillet in one hand above the sink, and splashing soapy dish water up in the skillet with her other had. I just about fell over! Now you may ask, why would I want to even bother with those heavy, messy old cast iron skillets when I have my wonderful Teflon coated non stick cookware? Not to mention my plastic bowls and microwave? Well, there is some evidence that cooking in Teflon may be detrimental to your health, where as cooking in cast iron has been show to increase the iron content in foods cooked in them, and iron is an important nutrient in the body. And you never know when the power may fail and you find yourself without power to run the microwave. Who knows, maybe someday you will find yourself enjoying the great outdoors with a cookout at the creek. In which case, your plastic microwave bowls aren?t going to be of much use.To keep your cast iron skillets in tip top non sticking shape, there is one very important thing to remember. NEVER USE SOAP ON THEM! Soap dissolves the oil from the pores of the metal and causes them to stick. This includes any dishwater you have put soap in. I had to argue with one housekeeper who insisted that since the water wasn?t bubbly any more the soap was gone. It is not gone, it?s never gone if you put dish soap in it, the water just gets dirty. If the skillet is dirty or has not been used in awhile, give it a good scrubbing with a metal pot scrubber to remove all rust, stuck on grime or whatever is on it. If it?s just stuck on food, it?s fine to soak it in warm water for awhile before scrubbing. When the metal is smooth and shiny gray again, the skillet is clean and ready to be conditioned. First, get the skillet completely dry. I usually set mine on the stove burner and turn it on just long enough to get the metal warm and let the water evaporate quickly. While the metal of the skillet is still warm pour some oil in the skillet. If you want, just a tiny dab of oil can be used, and you can rub it around with a paper towel to make a thin coat over the entire surface of the skillet, don?t forget to do the sides too. You will of course, want to make sure the skillet is not too hot for you to handle, but the warmer it is the better conditioning you will have. Or you can pour extra oil in it and just roll it around in the skillet until all surfaces are coated. It depends on what you are planning to cook with it the next time, for example, if you are going to fry potatoes, the extra oil is helpful as they need more oil to cook in than say if you were going to just brown some hamburger or fry bacon that was already greasy. While any type of cooking oil will work, I generally use vegetable oil as that is what we have on hand, but I think lard, or shortening would probably work a little better. Under NO circumstance use that spray on no stick cooking spray. It will build up on the surface and cause the skillet to become very sticky and actually gummy feeling to the touch. Not to mention those spray cans contain propane as a propellant and aside from the fact that who wants gas in their food, I can see some real possible safety problems using products containing propane around cooking fires.Keeping cast iron in good working condition is not hard to do. Just remember every time you use it, clean it, dry it, heat it and oil it. And your good cast iron skillet will do as good a job, if not better than any fancy Teflon coated cookware.

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