Cast iron cookware is a time-honored treasure. If you’re lucky, you have pieces passed down to you through generations. Although they are priceless tools to have in your kitchen, they can cause a bit of a headache when it comes time to clean them. However caring for cast iron is really quite simple.
For as long as I can remember, my Nana cooked skillets of buttery cornbread in her cast iron. Because she took excellent care of her cast iron, I now have a few pieces that precede me in age by at least 30 years.
How to Care for Cast Iron Cookware
The biggest reason many people stay away from cast iron is the belief that caring for cast iron cookware can be difficult or troublesome. Truthfully, once you season the cookware, it’s not that hard to care for.
How to Season Cast Iron Cookware
Wanna know the best way to season your cast iron cookware? Make Bacon!
Seriously – more about that in a minute.
Seasoning cast iron is essentially “greasing” it up. Generally speaking, modern day pieces already have this part out of the way, but if you’ve come into a few pieces that need some TLC, here are some tips:
Steps for Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware:
1. Rinse with hot water. For the love of all that’s Holy and good, DO NOT use soap on your cast iron cookware! Soap will destroy your pan and you will be left with a pot of rust.
2. Now, make the bacon. Yep, I’m serious. Getcha some good bacon and get to fryin’! After you’ve rinsed your skillet really well, the grease will form a protective coating on the skillet and (for the most part) your pan will be nonstick.
3. Bake it Some More. Now that you’ve got a greasy mess, rinse your skillet again and dry it. Place it in a 375 oven for one hour. Then, turn off the oven to cool.
4. Re-grease. Before putting your pan away, rub a thin layer of olive or vegetable oil on the pan. This will prevent the cookware from rusting. If you do see rust spots on your pan, after it’s been in storage for a while, use steel wool to remove the rust before rinsing well. Then, dry thoroughly and follow the instructions for seasoning the pan.
How to Clean Cast Iron Cookware
I see a lot of noses turned up when I say not to use soap when cleaning cast iron. Soap can cause rusting and ultimately ruin your cast iron. I’ve read many things that a mild detergent is ok to use, but I prefer to avoid soap altogether. I promise, through proper seasoning and care, your cast iron is clean and safe to use.
How to Clean Cast Iron with Kosher Salt
After I finish cooking, I allow the pan to cool before I clean it. It’s possible that there will be a few bits that stick, but that’s easily taken care of with some elbow grease.
If your pan needs a good scrub, sprinkle some Kosher salt into the pan and use a few balled-up paper towels to swish the salt around as a gentle scrub. The stubborn bits will come right up! This is my preferred way to clean cast iron.
Pro Tip: I think this goes without saying, but NEVER put your cast iron in the dishwasher!
After each use, rinse the pan and dry thoroughly. Depending on the age of your cookware, consider reseasoning your pan.
Cast iron cookware well worth the investment and extra care. Whether you’re cooking a steak or a pan of cornbread, the results are always delicious! Take the time and invest in caring for your cast iron cookware. You’ll be so glad you did.