Why Eric Adjepong Uses Salt To Deep Clean Cast Iron

Cast iron cookware is a beloved kitchen staple and, at times, passed down as family heirlooms, per Atlanta Magazine. As The Kitchn explains, they are durable and dependable, relatively affordable, and perform well in the oven and on the stovetop. They retain heat exceptionally well and build a beautiful, natural non-stick coating with proper treatment and regular use.

But still, cast iron cookware inspires a level of trepidation, especially among those who have never cooked with it. Some aspects of the cast iron mythos are either misunderstood or altogether unfounded. No, they are not delicate; they are so hardy they may prove a bit hazardous to other items in your kitchen, such as countertops. Yes, you can cook acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus in cast iron with no adverse reaction, and you should feel free to use any utensil in your kitchen arsenal in conjunction with cast iron, per Southern Living

Another common misconception involves cleaning cast iron, with many partisans firmly stating that soap and scrubbing should never be applied to the black surface. While soap and a little elbow grease are fine in moderation (via America's Test Kitchen), other options help get a thorough clean while still protecting the polymerized interior.

Kosher salt breaks down the dirt and grease

Food Network's Chef Eric Adjepong has likely dealt with his fair share of cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens that have had crusted and caked on bits of food after cooking. But it's not a bottle of dish soap and a scrub brush that he reaches for to remedy the situation. Rather he gets salty.

In a video posted on Food Network's Twitter account, Adjepong explains that salt is a great medium for removing stubborn food particles in cast iron. Specifically, he fills the vessel with a copious amount of salt — after it has properly cooled with a slight tinge of warmth. The key is to use kosher salt, which has larger chunks and thus is more abrasive. Next, he takes a clean kitchen towel and works the salt around the vessel, allowing its grit to break down the mess. 

Once satisfied, he simply dumps the salt and grime and wipes out the cast iron with a second clean towel before applying a restorative and protective layer of oil. For anything caked-on and super stubborn, he advises going back in another round with a damp towel and a little soap. 

So next time you're intimidated to take on a dirty cast-iron skillet, be sure to consider this simple, salty solution before anything else to maintain its integrity.