Going home to isolate during the pandemic has led many people to new endeavors or hobbies. Gardening and making sourdough bread come to mind, and another is cooking with a cast iron skillet. However, so many who are new to cast iron cooking are intimidated by the experts, meaning those who have used them before. There seem to be so many rules about using a cast iron skillet, how will you ever get it right?
Say or write the words “cast iron” aloud or on the internet or so much as post a picture of a skillet, and someone will swoop in and offer complicated and unsolicited advice about the steps you must to take to keep from destroying it and rending a hole in the fabric of the universe. If some fella (it’s always a fella—sorry fellas) perceives even a mild flaw in your pan, he may feel compelled by fella-law to instruct you how to build an entirely unnecessary electrolysis tank in your home as penance when honestly, steel wool and patience will do. He may tell you that you need a blast furnace and 37 layers of grapeseed oil to achieve a seasoning that won’t earn his scorn. (Otterman notes that Lodge factory-seasons with canola at 700°F but they tell consumers that “a high temperature or an oil with a high smoke point” will do, and says coconut or flaxseed oil are fine options.) It’s lovely if you want to spend your time that way, but making it seem that complicated, being told you have to earn your right to use this object, just strips the joy along with the rust.
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