Every so often, a new idea is presented to the world that seems to have already belonged there for years. Like a perfect pop song, it's fresh and exciting, yet feels like it's been part of you for your entire life.
The stainless steel cast iron scrubber is one of those things. Inventive, yet classic. Infinitely simple. And most importantly... it actually works.
What is it?
Simply put: it's a chain mail washcloth. Composed of interlocking steel rings, its flexible-yet-structured composition is has tons of scrubbing surface area, allowing you to remove build-up, but not the non-stick seasoning, from cast iron and carbon steel pans.
Here's why you need one:
- First off, it works. Flawlessly. Exactly as advertised, it removes crud without any scratches to the cooking surface. No soap required.
- Because you can clean your cast iron skillet more easily, you'll use it more. When it comes to flavor and cooking control, it is always worth opting for cast iron over non-stick. But the truth is, cast iron can be a pain to clean, especially when using it where it excels most: the browning of meat and cooking of fatty foods, like bacon. I wish I were willing to clean my 8" iron skillet every single day so I could cook my breakfast eggs in it. I'd even deal with the weight. But until I discovered the stainless scrubber, I would only save it for special meals, opting for the ease of clean up. Now, my cast iron has become a daily use item.
- It's super easy to clean. Sponges harbor so. much. bacteria. With hot water and the right soap, the scrubber can become operating room-level sanitized. A quick rinse usually takes care of it, but for extra thick, syrup-y grease (like when you forgot to wipe out the pan after that ribeye, and its fat and black bits have solidified overnight), you can just toss it in the dishwasher.
- It's completely fairly priced. Like a piece of cast iron cookware itself, I suspect this thing will last you the rest of your life. Even if a few rings fail, the mesh is supported on all sides, so it'll work perfectly. $15 is a minimal investment with a huge payoff.
- It can, and should, be combined with other cleaning methods. Prior to the stainless scrubber, my go-to method to cleaning cast iron was coarse kosher salt, which not only acted as an abrasive to remove stuck-on bits, but absorbed the oil to make it easier to access the iron surface. The scrubber make salt even more effective, adding additional agitation, while the salt soaks up the grease. And unlike a sponge, it won't get caked-up fatty sodium all over the surface, eliminating its frictional abilities.
- It's always where you need it. Just store it inside your skillet stack or use the round hook to hang it where your skillet goes.
Seriously, if you own any cast iron cookware - from skillets to dutch ovens to griddles to those fancy corn bread pans - you need one of these in your kitchen. And at $14, there's no reason not to.