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Yes, we’re talking about cast iron skillets. However, for as many people who revere them, there are just as many — if not more! — who are intimidated by this age-old cooking tradition. Whether you’re new to the cast iron skillet world or want to learn how to treat yours better, today’s blog post is for you. 

Here are the DOs and DON’Ts of cooking with a cast iron skillet.

DO use it frequently. The more you use your skillet, the better it will get. This is because the oil you use every time you cook (and when you season your skillet) helps to create a non-stick surface over time. Using it regularly helps that non-stick surface to build up and makes cooking with your skillet a more seamless experience.

DON’T soak it in water. Cast iron is a porous material, so soaking your skillet could lead to rust developing over time. In fact, it’s best to dry your cast iron skillet immediately after washing it so water doesn’t sit on the surface for too long.

DO wash it immediately after use. The easiest way to clean your skillet is to rinse it with water when it’s still warm from cooking. If you do happen to get stuck on pieces of food, try bringing a few cups of water to a boil in it on the stove, then scrubbing and rinsing — rather than soaking in the sink. You can also use a paste of coarse kosher salt and water to scrub off any extra stuck on bits.

DON’T use soap. It’s going to feel weird at first, but you’ll get used to it. Using soap on cast iron not only strips off that built-up non-stick surface you’ve created through the seasoning process, but it also could soak into the skillet and create a soapy taste when you use it. In short, avoid this at all costs.

DO season with oil. To keep your skillet clean, all you need to do is rinse with hot water, scrub with a stiff brush (but not a scouring pad or steel wool), then apply a light coating of vegetable oil with a paper towel or a cloth. That’s it! Then store in a cool, dry place.

DON’T store your skillet in your oven. While your oven is certainly cool and dry, this isn’t an ideal place to store your skillet. Each time you preheat your oven and forget to take it out ahead of time, you cause damage to your skillet’s seasoning. Instead, it’s best to store in the cabinet with your other pots and pans — just make sure you line your skillet with a paper towel if you stack any other pans on top of it. 

DO keep it forever. When it comes to cast iron skillets, old is better than new. In fact, if you can find a used cast iron skillet in an antique store or thrift store, that’s actually better than purchasing new from a store. With a little love and care, you can bring an old cast iron skillet back to life and enjoy the “they don’t make them like this anymore” advantages.

 And of course, our favorite thing to make in a cast iron skillet is — you guessed it — steak.

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