Cooking the iron skillet
January 4, 2006 7:25 PM   Subscribe

I decided to store my cast iron skillet inside the oven, even when I am using the oven. I figure it's acting like a heat stone, keeping the oven temp stable. Is this bad for the skillet?
posted by jclovebrew to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Not at all. In fact, if you wipe it with a bit of vegetable oil every now and then (a high smoke point oil like corn, soy, canola or peanut) and you're seasoning the pan, making the non-stick surface better.
posted by bonehead at 7:35 PM on January 4, 2006

posted by cribcage at 7:41 PM on January 4, 2006

bonehead has would be a great time to increase the seasoning on the pan. When well seasoned, the bottom of the pan should be nearly mirror smooth.

But to your point, yep...that's exactly what you're doing. Heat stone away!
posted by griffey at 7:50 PM on January 4, 2006

No, # Stress relieving, a low-temperature treatment, to reduce or relieve internal stresses remaining after casting
posted by hortense at 7:55 PM on January 4, 2006

Fine for the skillet, but a (big?) waste of energy, unless you're baking something that could benefit from a stone.

I hate leaving stones/pans in the oven when using it because it takes a bunch longer to get the oven up to heat.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:00 PM on January 4, 2006

Does it matter if the skillet is left sitting on the bototm of the oven? Or should it be on a rack?
posted by coriolisdave at 8:10 PM on January 4, 2006

It's not a great waste of energy in the winter, since you're heating your house one way or another. It only stablizes the oven temperature somewhat if you're opening the door during the cooking cycle, otherwise the thermostat will keep it even. Not too many foods are sensitive to temperature variations, anyway. But, as rxrfrx points out, it's going to take more time to cook the meal, and you'll have to drive faster to get to the show, consuming more fuel, and perhaps having an accident. Plus, you know how your girlfriend gets pissed off when you're late.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:15 PM on January 4, 2006

I do this with my best cast iron pan, as long as I'm not cooking things that have any chance of boiling over. Baking shit onto your cast iron pan that you then have to scrub off is bad for the finish.

I wouldn't leave my cast iron pan on the bottom of my oven though - they do rust if they get a bit wet, so you want to give them an opportunity to dry out. Keeping them on the lowest rack would be much more sensible in my mind.

I throw all of my cast iron (large skillet, griddle, dutch oven) into my oven when I clean it. Oiled lightly and then heated high is baking quite a nice finish into all of them, even the ones I rarely use.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:04 PM on January 4, 2006

I have my father's cast iron frying pans that he bought in 1945. I've always stored them in my oven, and quite often leave them in the oven if I'm baking something that isn't messy. The patina on these babies is awesome - 61 years of loving care.

For anyone just wandering through this thread: NEVER WASH CAST IRON PANS. No soap. No steel wool. Burnt or sticky foods can be left to soak in the pan for a very short period of time, then scrubbed out using salt as an abrasive (sand, if you're at the beach), then rinsed with very hot water, dried, oiled, and stored.

No soap. I divorced a guy for threatening to clean my pans with steel wool. I didn't think it was funny at all.
posted by Corky at 3:00 AM on January 5, 2006

Make sure you clean off any animal fat carefully before sticking the skillet in the oven. It's a well know problem that iron from the cast-iron utensils reacts with animal fat at high temperatures to produce very nasty carcinogens. Vegetable fats/oils are fine.
posted by randomstriker at 4:45 AM on January 5, 2006

My father in law used to insist that the way to take care of your cast iron was, in the spring when you raked your lawn and burned all the leaves and branches, you stick the pan into the hot coals and leave it there to burn off the entire finish, and then re-season the thing. Which is of course like those people on Antiques Roadshow who have polished their Tiffany bronze lampstand, or something. But keeping it in the oven and wiping a little oil on it now and then sounds fine to me.
posted by beagle at 9:09 AM on January 5, 2006

Salt works great for cleaning, but I've found that a quick wipe with soapy water doesn't hurt the finish at all and gets the pan nicely clean afterwards. The only important thing with cast iron is to use it often. The non-stick surface gets better with use.
posted by bonehead at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2006

The soap just doesn't seem necessary. Salt has all the properties you need from soap (abrasion, antiseptic, hydrophilic) without stripping a layer of potential seasoning off.
posted by Miko at 11:09 AM on January 5, 2006

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