What’s the best way to clean and maintain cast iron cookware? That is a question that anyone who has worked in the housewares, more specifically, cookware industry, has been asked a thousand times.
The good news? I am going to answer that question right here so you can use those amazing pieces sitting in your cabinet every day. Here’s the reason why you want to use them:
- Cast iron cookware will last forever. It’s literally passed down from generation to generation.
- It’s essentially indestructible. Use on the stove, in the oven, on the grill and on the campfire.
- It cooks evenly no matter how well the heat is dispersed.
- Once seasoned through natural use, it almost becomes a non-stick surface.
- You can buy pre-seasoned cast iron cookware now.
- You can take the fry pan from cook top (sear the steak) and put the pan right in the oven to cook the meat through. Effortless.
- You can cook anything from meat to vegetables to potatoes to corn bread to desserts!
What is seasoning cast iron cookware?
Let’s talk about how to care for this cookware. We always hear reference to “seasoning” cast iron. Bet you are wondering what that actually means, right? Seasoning is a thin layer of oil baked in to the iron to make the pan non stick. While most new pans come pre-seasoned, the original cast iron cookware needs to go through this step.
The more you use the pan, the more seasoned and therefore, more non stick it becomes. As the layers of oil increase, it’s easier to get a browning on your vegetables and potatoes as well as sear meats. This Lodge Pre-Seasoned Griddle is one of my favorites for everything from pancakes to pizza to fish.
How to season cast iron cookware?
Now you may be asking yourself, how do I season the pan myself? It’s so easy! Seriously! Here’s all you need to do:
- Preheat the oven to its lowest setting – say 180 degrees.
- Add vegetable oil to coat the inside of the pan.
- Let it stay in the oven for 2-3 hours.
- Pour off the excess oil.
- Wipe the pan clean.
- Place back in the oven on a rack upside down. Use another pan underneath the pan you are seasoning either directly or on the rack underneath to catch any drips of remaining oil.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and let season for 60 minutes.
How to clean cast iron cookware?
Ready? Rinse it and even add a small amount of dish soap. Take a scrubby – so many choices of types – to remove anything stubborn. If it still won’t clean to your satisfaction, then do what I do with my stainless steel pans. Fill it with water, put it back on the burner, and let the heat of the water soften anything left behind with the help of a scrubby like these from Lodge. Repeat as needed.
What don’t you want to do with cast iron cookware?
Let it air dry. Always dry the cookware completely. Then using vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil on a paper towel, rub a small amount on the inside of the pan. Now it’s ready for use next time you are cooking. If you are wondering about whether the oil might get on other pieces of cookware if you stack them together, just place a paper towel in between the layers.
And that’s it! I recognize that to many, a nonstick pan is simply the easiest method of cookware to use. But, for me, it’s how the recipe turns out that really matters. That seared edge and “crunch factor” don’t happen in nonstick pans due to how they are made. I use a selection of pieces from stainless to enameled cast iron to ceramic to traditional cast iron when I cook. I encourage you to experiment with different types of cookware to see how they each cook your dishes.
I’ve made so many recipes in my cast iron cookware and just love the outcome of each dish. Here are a couple for you to try: