As a wedding gift my cousin gave me a small cast iron skillet. I’ve owned a couple cast iron skillets in my life; however, this one was unique and special because it dated back as far as the American Civil War. (On a quick side note, my cousin does Civil War reenactments in Colorado for fun.)
Tonight I’m going to make a dish, in which the recipe suggests the use of a cast iron skillet. Remembering that my cousin gave me one, I searched through my pots and pans, and eventually found the skillet in the drawer under the stove. Not surprisingly the skillet was covered with a thin coat of rust. My immediate thought was to scrub it in the sink with dish soap, but I remembered something my dad told me a while back, something about never soaping up cast iron, and how you have to season the pan before use.
I called my dad for confirmation. No answer. Darn.
Well, thank goodness for the internet?! –I Googled, how to clean and season a cast iron skillet… 223,000 results in less than a second. Search engines are amazing! Apparently my dad was right, no soap! To clean a cast iron item you scrub it with salt. Hmm, good thing my kitchen is stocked with coarse sea salt, lol! I scrubbed the surface of the skillet with salt and the rust disappeared, and so did the “metally” smell.
As I seasoned the pan with some vegetable oil and placed it in the hot oven to “bake”, I thought about all the people who might have used this skillet sometime in their life. What did they cook? Where did they live? Were they part of the Civil War?
As a college student majoring in history, I’m fascinated by this skillet, and its “life”. As an aspiring chef, I’m amazed that this kitchen staple is still useable after 100+ years!
I’m going to guess that cast iron skillets don’t really break or go bad, until they are so well loved that they rust through.
Seasoning a Cast-Iron Pan