Can you cook acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, in enameled cast iron?

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How to Rescue a Ruined Skillet

So you found an old skillet at a flea market. Or you put one in the dishwasher. Or you accidentally carbonized a block of tofu. In any case, now the skillet looks like something brought up from Titanic wreckage. Can you save it?


  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Step 2: Scour the skillet’s rusty spots with dry steel wool or a metal scrubby. You’ll wind up spreading the loosened rust particles around, and it might not look like you’re making headway. If you wipe away the rusty dust with a paper towel and you’ll see that you are.
  • Step 3: Wash the skillet in warm water, scrubbing it with a stiff brush or scouring pad. You can use a little dish soap, if you like, but it’s not necessary.
  • Step 4: Dry the skillet. If you see rough, rusty spots repeat steps 2 and 3.
  • Step 5: Give your skillet a massage all over with neutral cooking oil such as canola or vegetable oil. Use a lint-free rag or paper towel. Don’t be skimpy, but don’t slather it, either—that can give your seasoning a sticky residue.
  • Step 6: Put the skillet face-down on a rack in the middle of the oven (face-up might cause oil to pool, leaving a sticky residue). Lay a sheet of foil underneath to catch any drips. Bake the skillet for 1 hour. Turn off the oven, and let it cool with the skillet in it (put a Post-It on there so you don’t forget).
  • Step 7: Once the cast iron has cooled, examine it. Repeat steps 5 to 6, if needed. If the situation still looks grim, it’s time for drastic measures.



5. Skillet Nachos

Seriously, is there anything that screams party appetizer more than a gigantic pile of heavily loaded nachos? In this case, just load up your biggest cast and watch your guests chow down!

Get the Recipe @ thetravelpalate

6. Creamy Shrimp Scampi Dip

Creamy shrimp scampi dip… creamy shrimp scampi dip… creamy shrimp scampi dip… YES! You read right! Is that not the most decadent sounding appetizer you’ve ever heard of???

Get the Recipe @ lemonblossoms

7. Cheesy Taco Skillet

It’s meaty, it’s cheesy, and it’s oh-so-easy! This taco skillet is a low carb bomb of an appetizer that goes great with just about anything you can think to dip in it!

Get the Recipe

8. Cast Iron Ham And Swiss Sliders

If you want an app that’s super easy to make and super easy to eat, check out these simple skillet sliders. All you have to do is assemble them and bake them in your skillet, all your guests have to do is pick them up and eat them!

Get the Recipe @ thissillygirlskitchen

Scrub Away Your Worries

For gunky, saucy residue, a wet plastic scrubby or brush gets the job done nine times out of ten. Avoid metal bristles or pads, which can remove the skillet’s seasoning.

Once your skillet has cooled off some, fill it with water, scrub-a-dub-dub, rinse, and presto! It’s clean.

I save the plastic netting from bags of onions or fruit for single-use scrubbies—they work great, especially for crud like melted cheese or cooked egg residue.

Old-time cleaning methods include scouring the skillet with salt or cornmeal. Both of these abrasives are likewise safe and cheap.

Alison Conklin

Delicate foods are a no-go

No matter how well-seasoned, your cast-iron pan will never truly be non-stick. Delicate dishes and ingredients — a thin filet of tilapia, or an omelette — will more often than not fall apart or stick.

If cooking sunny-side up eggs, never crack them into a cold pan (a handy tip for all your cast iron cooking) because ingredients thrown into an unheated pan will stick as the iron warms up. Once heated you’ll still need to add oil before the eggs go in to ensure 100 percent fuss-free results.

3. Dont Cook Delicate Fish In Cast Iron

Cast-iron skillets are beloved for their ability to retain heat—all the better for getting that perfect browned crust on a steak. But this same asset is a liability when it comes to more delicate meats that won’t stand up to heat as well. Flaky white fish like flounder or tilapia are at risk of falling apart and not flipping well when cooked in cast iron. Even with heartier fish like salmon, the skin is likely to stick to the cast-iron surface, making flipping difficult. Instead, cook your fish in a stainless-steel nonstick skillet.

How to Clean and Season Cast IronView Story

The Myth: You should never wash cast iron with soap

THE TESTING: During our extensive recipe-testing process we generated hundreds of dirty skillets and thus had plenty of opportunities to test different cleaning methods. While developing our recommended procedure, we experimented with a variety of cleansers, including dish soap and scouring powders.

THE TAKEAWAY: We found that a few drops of dish soap are not enough to interfere with the polymerized bonds on the surface of a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Don’t scrub the pan with abrasives like steel wool or use harsh cleansers like Comet, and don’t soak the pan, since those things can definitely affect the seasoning, but it’s OK to use a few drops of dish soap if you need to clean up a particularly greasy pan, or even if that just makes you feel more comfortable with your cast iron. Just make sure you rinse the pan clean and wipe it dry when you’re finished.

The Myth: When you cook in a cast-iron skillet, your food will absorb a lot of extra iron so you can effectively supplement your diet by using this type of pan

THE TESTING: We simmered tomato sauce in a stainless-steel pan and in seasoned and unseasoned cast-iron pans. We then sent samples of each sauce to an independent lab to test for the presence of iron. The unseasoned cast iron released the most molecules of metal. The sauce from this pot contained nearly 10 times as much iron (108 mg⁄kg) as the sauce from the seasoned cast-iron pot, which contained only a few more milligrams than the sauce from the stainless-steel pot.

THE TAKEAWAY: Since this occurs in pronounced amounts only with unseasoned skillets, which you wouldn’t use for cooking, we don’t consider this an issue. A seasoned cast-iron skillet will not leach any appreciable amount of iron into food cooked in it.


    1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, zucchini and mushrooms and sauté 3-4 minutes.
    2. Add in garlic, jalapeño, ground beef and salt and combine well, breaking the meat as you go along. Cook until the beef is no longer pink.
    3. Add tomatoes and taco seasoning ingredients. Stir well and cook 2 minutes.
    4. Mix in tomato paste and cook 8-10 minutes.
    5. Spread cheese on top of mixture. Cover and cook until cheese is melted.

    Reader Success Stories

    • Valerie Moore

Oct 5, 2016

      Valerie Moore Oct 5, 2016

      “Been looking for instructions for quite some time, and this is just what I was looking for. Been looking for the conditioner and cleanser for quit some time and finally found some at a Bass Pro Shop. Thanks!” …” more

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