Today’s post is a full care guide on How to Care for Cast Iron Cookware that is filled with simple ways to effectively clean, use, and season cast iron cookware.
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For years I have purchased sets of cookware only to find myself in need of a new one within a year. I had always kept a cast iron pan as an “extra” pan that was seen mostly as good for frying solely. This was basically because I didn’t know how to keep the cast iron from sticking unless I was using a generous amount of grease to cook something. It’s funny the things you later find out as you get older. This is one for me.
Today, I love my cast iron. In fact, I don’t cook with much else and I cook so often that my cast iron is kept right on top of my stove top ready for use. It’s a wonderful material to cook with that browns meat beautifully, cooks evenly, doubles as a baking pan, and when cared for properly, will last forever.
No more buying a cookware set each year and wasting money. Just my trusty cast iron. Simply put it’s an amazing tool in the kitchen. Let me share with you how I keep it properly cared for to avoid that awful sticking and how to use it so that you get consistent results each time you cook.
Prior to Using
Make sure to season your cast iron before using it for the first time. This basically consists of rubbing it down with some oil whether that be vegetable, olive oil, or canola. I use olive oil or coconut oil as I don’t keep the other types of oils in my home and these work just fine. But you can use what you have. To do this you can use a brush or paper towel to dab and wipe it down evenly. Set your oven to 500 ℉ and bake the cast iron for 30 to 45 minutes. Let it cool down completely before storing it.
The Proper Way To Use Cast Iron
You need to get your pan hot before adding any food to it otherwise, chances are it will stick. I like to make sure mine has sufficient butter, coconut oil, or olive oil for the job I am doing. I keep mine on the medium setting and I have a gas stove just to give you an idea of the heating aspect of these pans. Sometimes I do lower the heat down for simmers as these pans tend to heat up nicely and hold that heat.
Use Enough Fat
When using cast iron cookware, you must use fat to cook. Whether that is butter, olive oil, coconut oil, or lard. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is using a decent amount for the food when cooking. If you try to cook eggs with no butter or oil of any sort if your pan is properly seasoned it might not stick on the first attempt however, if you continue to cook without any fat in the pan it will begin sticking and you will need to re-season your pan in the oven.
What To Do When Your Done Cooking
This is important. Do not soak your pan in water as it will rust. Instead, I let mine cool down after cooking. Once it’s tolerable, I take it and scrub it out with only hot water and a scrub brush. But I don’t use soap, just hot water. I know some people do use soap, but I don’t as my water gets piping hot in my house and I find that sufficient enough to clean the pan. Using soap is not recommended when cleaning your cast iron cookware.
Once the pan is cleaned out. I pat dry and place it over medium heat.
I make sure it dries completely over the heat. Once dry, I take a brush and brush olive oil evenly into the pan. Let it heat until it smokes just a bit and then turn the heat off.
Allow it to cool completely before storing.
How To Care
- If you don’t have a brush, I would dab a paper towel with the oil of your choosing. Then apply it to the pan before placing it on the hot burner.
- If you follow these steps on How To Care For Your Cast Iron Cookware on cooking use, proper washing, and care before storing. You can expect to have a well-seasoned pan that will last for years to come and provide an amazing cooking companion.
What if my cast iron has rust?
Not to worry! A very simple solution to this is to simply scrub the rust off with a scouring pad, steel wool or even a crumpled piece of foil works great. Wash the pan out with hot water and even a bit of soap if you’d like. Dry your pan completely and immediately season the pan (I.e. the Before Use section above.)
How do I get stuck on food off?
You can use a special cast iron scrubber or a crumpled piece of tin foil to help get any stuck foods off. Another way is to put a bit of water in the pan and set it on the stovetop to heat up. When the water is hot begin scrubbing the food off. The heat from the stove will help lift off the stuck-on food.
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