Whether it was handed down to you or you recently bought one, a cast iron griddle is an excellent cooking implement in your kitchen. It gives you the freedom to turn just about any food item into a mouthwatering meal. A cast-iron skillet gives you the liberty to add grilled cheese sandwiches and grilled steak to your family’s meal.
Cast iron cookware provides you with one of the best cooking surfaces. Exceptional heat retention, unbeatable durability, a naturally nonstick surface: what’s not to love? These skillets are virtually indestructible. With a little TLC, you can have the griddle bounce back to its pristine state after subjecting it to considerable abuse.
That said, cast iron cookware is notoriously tricky to clean, especially when it’s not well seasoned. However, with proper maintenance, cast iron griddles can serve you for a long time, long enough to pass them on as family heirlooms. As such, you must learn how to clean a cast-iron griddle properly.
What’s a Cast Iron Griddle?
As the name suggests, cast iron griddles are cookware that is forged from this heavy metal. They have exceptional heat retention and distribution, which lets them brown your meat evenly to give a beautiful seared look. They are the hardworking and affordable alternative to stainless steel. Cast iron griddles come seasoned – coated with a fatty oil- to create a natural nonstick cooking surface.
How to Clean A Cast Iron Griddle
Cleaning a well-seasoned skillet shouldn’t have you walking on walls since the food doesn’t stick on the surface. If cleaning the grill takes a considerable amount of effort, the seasoning might be a bit off. Since these skillets are made from iron, they are highly susceptible to rusting, which can render them useless. Chips and rusty spot are a dead giveaway of a griddle in need of re-seasoning.
The Little Mess
If you’ve just seared steak or made a batch of roasted vegetables, leaving a little residue and crumbs on the griddle, a little touch up is all you need to clean it up. Pour a little cooking oil on the cooking surface and use a dish rag or a paper towel to wipe down the griddle. That leaves your skillet clean and perfectly seasoned, ready for the next batch of a mouthwatering meal.
The Bigger Mess
If you’ve gone and created a mess on the griddle – have some food caked onto the cooking surface – then you need some soap and sponge to clean it up. Be sure to use gentle dishwashing liquid and a non-abrasive sponge to clean your griddle. These aren’t strong or abrasive enough to penetrate the griddle’s seasoned surface when getting the food off the surface.
You can use hot or warm water to clean the skillet. Just make sure to dry it thoroughly after you’re done to avoid rusting. Instead of air drying your now clean griddle, hold it over a low flame for a few minutes and evaporate all moisture. Be sure to stow it away in a clean, dry open space.
Burned food residual spells a bigger mess to deal with when cleaning a cast iron griddle. Luckily, the gunk comes right off with a little dry scrubbing. Some safe and gentle homemade abrasive cleaning material include cornmeal and coarse sea salt.
Sprinkle the abrasive on the cooking surface of your messy griddle and use a paper towel to scrub away the residue. If that doesn’t clean the skillet to your liking, give the above soap and water method a go. Or you can just wipe down the cast iron griddle with a little oil.
Cleaning a Rusty Griddle
If your griddle does manage to get rusty, don’t cast it out as there’s still hope. It’s possible to restore it to its former glory and enjoy delicious grilled meals once again. For this, you will need a nonmetallic scrubber capable of removing the rust and a mild dishwashing soap. Scrub out all the rust, rinse thoroughly and dry the griddle with a paper towel. If the rusty spots prove to be stubborn, you can resort to using steel wool to get them out. However, it’s recommended that you don’t use steel wool on a cast iron griddle regularly. Re-season all the griddle’s surfaces with your choice of oil.
Seasoning a Cast Iron Griddle
Regardless of your choice of cleaning method, it’s what you do after the cleaning process that determines the longevity of your skillet. Proper cleaning and handling will have you passing down the grill for generations. Therefore, you must dry the skillet properly with each cleaning session and re-season the surface.
The first step in seasoning a cast iron griddle is to ensure that it’s bone dry. You can leave on a stovetop on medium heat or stash it in an oven that is set at 500 degrees for a few minutes. That gets rid of any residual moisture. Using a paper towel, rub a neutral oil or choice of shortening on the griddle’s cooking surface. Do a thorough job and ensure that you rub the sides, handle and the bottom as well.
Once you’re done rubbing on the oil, wipe off the excess oil with another paper towel. Leave the skillet on a lit stovetop until it starts to smoke. Alternatively, stash the iron griddle upside down in an oven preheated at 500 degrees for an hour then let the skillet cool inside the oven.
Caring for Your Cast Iron Griddle
Now that you know how to clean a cast iron griddle here are some credible pointers to help you increase the longevity of your cast iron skillet.
- Never soak an iron griddle or leave it in water as that encourages rusting.
- Never dunk a hot griddle in cold water as that causes it to warp. Allow the cookware to cool down sufficiently before cleaning with cold water. Alternatively, clean the skillet with piping hot water.
- Turn on your oven to the highest possible level when seasoning a cast iron griddle. You want to heat the oil beyond its smoking zone, a point where it breaks down. At this point, the oil bonds with the cast iron to create a smooth film on the surface.