When you cook fish in cast iron cookware, or use it to store leftovers, it’s easy to wind up with an unpleasant fishy smell. Luckily, there are many techniques you can use to effectively eliminate this odor and get your pan back to its former self. Here are 5 ways to get rid of fish smell in cast iron cookware.
After cooking a greasy food such as fish, take your cast iron skillet out of your oven or stove and immediately rinse it with hot water. If you don’t rinse it right away, any leftover food residue will continue to cook onto your pan, leaving an incredibly strong smell when you heat it up again or use it to make something else.
Even if you can’t remove all of the odor, rinsing as soon as possible is still recommended. You can scrub later. The water that comes off after rinsing should do a decent job of getting rid of some of it at least.
Once your pan is dry, give it another quick wash with a bit of soap and/or hot water so that you get rid of oil residue.
Fill with hot water, vinegar and lemon juice
A fishy smell can come from old, burnt food, or from fish’s natural oils. Remove as much of it as you can with a nylon scrubber.
Pour a half cup of lemon juice and about 1/4 cup white vinegar into your pan to loosen any stains.
Fill up with water to cover all spots and soak overnight; pour out water before reusing pan.
If spots are still there, let them bake on high heat for 10 minutes with no oil or fat added.
If that doesn’t work, don’t fret: The pan has had it—it will probably never get totally clean again. But don’t worry! You can replace that pricey cast iron piece for less than $50 at most kitchen supply stores.
Rub the pan
The first thing you should do is remove any food from your cast iron cookware. Washing by hand will allow you to scrub off any fish residue from your cast iron. To do so, use a nylon-bristled brush and hot water. You can also heat up some salt, pour it into a dish and rub it on your cookware to soak up smells.
Then, rinse and dry it thoroughly. Next, to get rid of fish smell in a cast iron pan, rub vegetable oil onto its surface and allow it to soak for 15 minutes.
Scrub off any remaining residue with a paper towel or sponge (you can also use soap if desired). Wash your pan with hot water and mild detergent; make sure to wash away all traces of oil before storing.
After you’re done washing it, leave your cast iron cookware out on a sunny windowsill for 24 hours so that it can completely air dry before you use it again.
If possible, store with paper towels between each piece to absorb moisture.
Use Baking Soda
Baking soda is a great agent for removing odors. Before beginning any deodorizing project, be sure to make a spot test on an inconspicuous area of your cookware.
Using a sponge or paper towel, apply baking soda to a small area and allow it to sit for up to 5 minutes. Then, scrub it away with water and if you’re happy with how it’s looking, proceed with your cleaning.
You can also sprinkle your cookware with fresh herbs—thyme, rosemary, and sage are all good candidates—and set it out overnight.In the morning, simply brush off any leftover herbs and enjoy!
Treat your pan with oil
You don’t have to wait for a pan to cool off before treating it with oil; you can apply some right away.
Rub a little bit onto your hands and spread over your pan, or make use of a paper towel. It doesn’t matter which type of oil you choose to use; any kind will do the trick, as long as it’s edible. This step is just meant to give you an even coat on both sides so that fish smells don’t linger.
Get a new pan
If all else fails, invest in new cookware: While many people are willing to spend tons of money on fancy kitchen gadgets or top-of-the line appliances, they tend to be frugal when it comes time to replace their pots and pans.
When was last time you replaced them? If your cast iron is really smelly (like really really stinky), then instead of using half a dozen different methods that didn’t work, just get rid of them. They’ll be one less thing for you stress about later down the road!