Who wins the debate at the kitchen table?
Recently my colleague Ellen who is an avid cook once told me she just never got the hang of cleaning cast-iron which is an ongoing battle in her household, one that she has never won. She has a devil of a time cleaning cast iron after cooking especially with everything stuck to the pan and burnt. “I have messed up multiple times in cleaning mine, and it makes me less likely to use it even though I really like cooking with cast iron,” she quipped. With this type of kitchen debate around cleaning a cast iron pan, it makes you question what you know or, more to the point, what you think you know.
Now I am really in a confessional as I declare my preference for cast-iron. Afterall, what’s not to love about cooking in cast iron. This cookware is exceptionally perfect for heat retention and terrific for non-stick cooking on top of the stove cum baking in the oven with high durability and value. It has been identified as one of the most sought-after vintage collectibles purchased at flea markets, yard sales and junk shops because everyone knows cast iron only gets better with age.
Cast iron isn’t delicate
Nowadays, folks would almost “keel over” with worry or try to be extremely careful while cleaning their best investment because they believe there are so many rules that must be followed to keep from mistreating a cast iron skillet. Passions can run high! Cassie Johnston, Wholefully, describes this as completely false but agrees there are things that should be avoided in keeping your skillet in top shape. “The glorious thing about cast iron cookware is that it can come back from almost anything. Literally, people have found rusted cast iron skillets in landfills before, blasted them clean (seriously), seasoned them, and happily used them to make eggs the next morning…. so, unless you use it for target practice, you are not going to ruin your skillet, I promise,” she said.
Cast iron is easy to clean: fact or myth?
Ellen had never heard of the seasoning option that is essential for cast iron cookware. Her main attempt at cleaning is by scrubbing with cleansers. What has been your own experience thus far? Have you been told that you cannot wash a cast iron skillet the “regular” way (with soap) or did you try it with soap and quickly surmised that was a mistake? Did you learn it the hard way?
The conventional wisdom in all of these is that soap, water, and iron are totally incompatible – so to all cast iron users, do not treat it like any other dirty pots and pans because soap will ruin it by destroying its protective seasoning. For many, it is nothing but the no-soap-on-cast myth but, personally I have not seen or heard anything other than anecdotal evidence pointing out issues or concerns about soap use.
A post at Newser by John Johnson, puts the spotlight on claims made by Allison Robicelli at the Takeout, a renowned Food and Pop Culture website on the best way to wash a cast iron pan. “You have been sold a lie,” she writes. “I am exhausted with this malarkey.” Use soap, and your seasoned pan will be just fine, she argues after a look at the science involved. At least, it is evident that science depends on dissent.
“You can’t simply wash the cure or seasoning off a cast iron pan with soap and water, because it’s molecularly bonded to the cast iron,” writes Robicelli. While you don’t want to put the skillet in the dishwasher, leave it soaking in the sink, or skip drying it, “a quick scrub after cooking isn’t going to do the damage that you think it will,” she writes.