How To Get Stuck Food Off A Cast Iron Pan Without Ruining The Seasoning

Cast iron cookware has been around for centuries, which says a lot about its quality. Even George Washington's grandmother saw its value — according to My Patriot Supply, she made mention of her cast iron cookware in her will and specified who would get each piece when she was gone. Cast iron Dutch ovens and other cast iron pieces that were used by the pilgrims have been passed down for generations and are still in use today. Clearly, a heavy cast iron skillet has a longer life expectancy than those nonstick pans in your kitchen.

Cast iron does have its drawbacks though, especially if you prefer a pan you can take out of the box and throw in the dishwasher. They can't be washed in the same way other pans can and they must be seasoned to keep their somewhat nonstick coating. 

Still, now and then when making your favorite cast iron skillet recipe, food will get stuck and it's tough to get off. Thankfully, there are a couple of solutions that won't ruin the seasoning.

Removing stuck on food

There are many types of cast iron skillets and they usually all require seasoning. To do this, you'll use a cooking oil or seasoning oil designed for cast iron seasoning, rub it into the pan, and then heat the pan in the oven, per Field Company. Seasoning not only adds great flavor to your foods but it also protects the pan and gives it a slightly nonstick finish, which is helpful when cleaning your cast iron. The problem is that you don't want that seasoning ruined by over-cleaning with too much soap or abrasive sponges. Abrasive cleansers and sponges can scratch your cast iron and ruin the seasoning and finish of the pan. So, what can you do when there is food stuck on the pan and you can't break out the steel wool to fix it?

Lodge Cast Iron explains that when food is stuck, you simply use a scraper, often supplied by the manufacturer, and gently scrape the food off and then clean it as usual. If the scraper isn't cutting it, you can add a little water to the skillet and put it on the stovetop with some heat under it. Simmer the water for a few minutes and then try scraping again. 

For regular washing, use a very small amount of soap and a soft scrubber designed for cast iron. Always dry your cast iron cookware immediately with a paper towel, then coat it with oil to keep it seasoned and protected.