Most people know that cast iron cookware is good for them to use and lasts longer than just about any other type of cookware; however, some hesitate because it can be a challenge to care for, but it’s really not as tricky as you might think. Here are some tips on how to wash, season and maintain cast iron cookware easily.
Advantages of Cooking With Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron not only looks great in your kitchen and lasts forever if cared for properly, there are also a number of advantages of cooking with cast iron pans.
- Heat retention: Cast iron holds the heat longer than other materials and heats more evenly. This is handy because you can serve the dish in the pan and it will stay warm throughout the meal.
- Nutritional value: Cast iron pans will actually leach iron into your food helping to boost your recommended daily intake of 18mg per day.
- Long lasting: This sturdy metal is guaranteed to last a long time. The more you use it the better it gets.
- Low cost: Cast iron pans are simple to make – melted iron is poured into molds. This makes them typically cheaper than other types of cookware.
- Versatility: Whether you’re searing steaks, sautéing mushrooms, baking cornbread or making an omelet, cast iron cookware is up to the job.
- Healthy option: When you cook with a cast iron skillet you can cook with less oil.
- No chemicals: Cast iron cookware is a chemical-free alternative to other non-stick pans.
If you looking for quality cast iron cookware, such as frying pans and Dutch ovens, check out Stone Frying Pans.
Caring For Your Cast Iron Pans
When you’re using cast iron cookware in your kitchen you do need to care for them a little differently than your other pans. Here’s how:
Only wash with soap the first time: When you bring your new pans home, it’s okay to wash them in mild soapy water the first time, but never again. You will not be using soap or scouring pads henceforth because you will be building up that delicious seasoning. Never put your cast iron cookware through a dishwasher.
Keeping it clean: There is no need to soak your cast iron pans in water. Wash them while they’re still warm with hot water and a sponge to remove any residue from cooking. If you’re having difficulty removing food from the pan. Sprinkle a little kosher salt inside and rub into the pan with a sponge. When it’s clean, empty out the salt and rinse with hot water. You must make sure that you dry the pans out completely after washing otherwise they will rust and then they are useless. The best way to do this is to let it sit on a low heat for a minute or two after towel drying then allow to cool. Store your cast iron pans is a dry place without the lids on. If rust should appear, scour the spot away with steel wool and re-season.
Seasoning Your Cast Iron Pans
This type of seasoning is not about adding herbs and spices. It’s about baking oil into the cast iron surface of the pan to give it a natural non-stick coating. After the initial seasoning, the more you use your pan, the more seasoned it will become.
- Preheat your oven to 300°F.
- Line the bottom rack of your oven with aluminum foil (to catch any drips).
- Place the pan on the top rack.
- Let it heat for 10 minutes then remove.
- Using a paper towel, coat the inside of the pan with bacon grease or vegetable shortening.
- Place the pan back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
- Remove and pour out excess oil.
- Turn the pan upside down and place on the top shelf again.
- Bake for one hour.
- Turn off the oven and let the pan cool inside.
You can repeat this process between using the pan to cook to increase your pan’s seasoning. You may come across some brands of cast iron pan that are labeled “pre-seasoned.” It is best to season them at home anyway to create a better non-stick surface.
If you take good care of your cast iron cookware it can last you a lifetime, and then some. It’s a good investment for your kitchen and will make your meals taste delicious time after time. And don’t forget, it’s a healthier way to cook.
Nate Lau is the founder of StoneFryingPans.com. A chef by day and a writer by night, he is passionate in all aspects of cooking and cookware. When he’s not in the kitchen, Nate is hiking up a mountain, reading on the beach and playing with his 2-year old daughter.