There’s two basic types of cast iron cooks:
One spends days meticulously seasoning their cast iron in the oven with layers of unrefined flax seed oil. It’s a lot of work. As a result, they tend to be very careful to protect that layer of seasoning and only use soft implements on it. I understand this mindset, and bamboo or silicon implements may be best for them.
The other type of cast iron cook believes that the best seasoning method for cast iron is frequent use with a variety of oils, high heat, and a flat edged stainless steel spatula. Essentially, the best way to care for your cast iron skillet is to use it a lot.
As you might have guessed, I’m the second type of cast iron cook. One of the main virtues of cast iron is that it’s nearly indestructible, so why treat it like a teflon pan?
I use a metal spatula in my cast iron skillet every day. My main skillet has never been stripped and re-seasoned, and the cooking surface has been IMPROVED by using a metal spatula on it. This is because the right spatula will lower the high spots in the natural texture of cast iron (left by the sand mold it was cast in), resulting in a smoother cooking surface that no longer makes that rusty nail-on-a-chalkboard sound when you scrape it.
To illustrate my point:
Left: Skillet never touched by metal
Middle: Skillet used mostly for deep frying (little contact with metal)
Right: Skillet that gets daily use with a metal spatula.
I know it looks like the far left one is zoomed in compared to the others. It’s not.
All of these are my skillets. All of these images were taken from the exact same distance, with the same settings, in the same light. The skillet on the left is an 8 inch Wagner, the middle is a 10 inch lodge, and on the right is a 13.25 inch lodge.
My lodge skillets were never as rough as the Wagner, but they started with the same texture as each other, and frequent use with a metal spatula DEFINITELY makes a difference, as you can see for yourself.
But is it still nonstick after all that scraping? Yes.
I would put the nonstick performance of my never-been-re-seasoned 13.25 inch lodge up against any cast iron skillet, and the reason for that amazing surface is the use of a metal spatula. Not any metal spatula, but the right one.
Here's what to look for in the best spatula for cast iron:
- Hardened Stainless Steel - Unhardened steel is softer than iron, which means that instead of slowly improving your skillet, you're eating steel.
- Precision Beveled Edge - A blunt edge will leave the most flavorful bits of your seared steak and smashed burger behind. Don't leave flavor behind.
- Flat Scraping Edge - The flat edge of the MÄNNKITCHEN spatula spreads force evenly, ensuring maximum edge contact for exceptional food release and even skillet surface leveling over time.
- Hardwood Handle - Apart from being more comfortable than plastic, you can rest a hardwood handle on the pan edge while cooking. Can't do that with Plastic.
- Heavy Gauge Steel - Eliminates flex, allowing you to apply downward pressure for perfect smash burgers, and scraping force without catapulting hot food out of your skillet.