Ever since I bought my Lodge cast iron pan two years ago, it’s taken up permanent residence on my stovetop. I use it year-round to make just about everything (except fried eggs), but fall is when I really put the pan to work: crispy hash browns for weekend brunch; chicken browned on the stove before getting roasted in the oven with a mess of root vegetables; apple crumble; crispy sausages with beans and greens.
The one thing all these foods have in common besides utter deliciousness is they’re all very good at leaving a layer of gunk and/or blackened char all over the bottom of my pan.
I spent the better part of two years searching for a cleaning method that will keep my pan shiny and debris-free but also doesn’t take a lot of work, because I am lazy. I tried scrubbing the pan with kosher salt, hot water and a stiff sponge, baking soda, and soap (oops), but no method became habit—I was more likely to leave the dirty pan on the stove and pretend it didn’t exist. But I was determined not to let this pan meet the fate of my first cast iron, a cherry red Le Creuset square grill pan that met its untimely end after a pepper-crusted steak gone horribly wrong.
Then, I found the Ringer, a miracle tool I discovered while in an Amazon rabbit hole searching for bottle brushes, because this is my idea of a good time. This delicate, 8?x6? swath of slinky chainmail—that looks like it was hacked off the suit of a medieval knight—is the easiest method I’ve found for ridding my cast iron of even the most stubborn crusty bits.
The Ringer’s stainless steel chainmail rings create a textured surface that’s ideal for scratch-free, heavy-duty scrubbing. Here’s how it works: After you’re done cooking and your pan (or griddle, or roasting dish) is cool enough to handle, fill it up in the sink with some warm water, then take the Ringer to town and scrub down every inch of the pan’s surface. Rinse and repeat if you’re working with some heavy-duty grit, then dry off the pan before storing to prevent rust. That’s literally it. Loosen up any gunk caught in the scrubber itself under a running tap, dry it off with a paper towel, and store.
If you’re like me and sport a healthy skepticism of single-purpose tools (see: avocado slicers, garlic presses), fear not. The Ringer can also rid wine glasses of two-day old party remnants and clean up enamel cast iron (like a Le Creuset Dutch oven), baking sheets, and Pyrex dishes. It’s also dishwasher safe, requires minimal storage space, and will last a lifetime. Trust: If you’re a cast iron fiend who wants more time too, this is the best $13 you’ll spend this fall.
Bring it, pepper-crusted steak.