Afraid of using cast iron? Here is a simple way to wash, season and care for your cast iron at home.
I was always intimidated to use cast iron even though it is probably the least sophisticated of all cookware. When I was about twenty, I bought a cast iron skillet and rusted it out after just a few weeks of cooking. I had no idea how to care for it. So I shrieked back from every using it. That is until about eight years later when I discovered that scratch cooking on cast iron is amazing!
Cast Iron is the work horse of all kitchen tools. It never breaks down. It can take a beating and it can cook everything. Iron is an amazing conductor of heat and evenly distributes it around the pan. If you take care of your cast iron, it will last you a lifetime.
Tried and Tested
It is the first of it’s kind when it comes to non-stick cookware. In fact, England has been using cast iron cookware since the late 600’s and it predates that time in Asia, particularly in the Orient.
Cast iron cookery comes in just about every vessel you can think of. Waffle makers, panini presses, Dutch ovens, woks, deep fryers, skillets, and grills. It’s extremely versatile. I love my Dutch oven. You can use it for soups and stews and even go from stovetop to oven (be careful, it’s heavy and hot) and it can double as an oven and slow cooker. I’ve even made bread, cake, and cobblers in my Dutch oven. Going camping? Use your cast iron cookware by putting it strait on the hot coals.
Teflon came into use in the 1940’s and over the next couple of decades cast iron slowly lost it’s appeal because of the convenience of Teflon. There is a lot of question as to how safe Teflon is, but most agree that it is non-toxic under 500 degrees F. That means that Teflon is potentially toxic for certain oils like avocado oil and safflower oil.
How To Care For Cast Iron
So one question I get often is how to care for cast iron. I season my cast iron as I go and honestly it has become as common as washing dishes. I don’t even think twice about the care and maintenance anymore.
How to Wash Cast Iron
Cast iron should never be washed like other dishes. First, let’s start with the basics. Iron can actually rust naturally in the air without ever applying water. That’s why it’s necessary to protect it carefully. Some people put traditional dish soap in their cast iron. But this can strip the seasoning from your pan. A lot of people never use soap but if this seriously grosses you out. I recommend using a mild soap that is made for cast iron.
How to Season Cast Iron
You may have heard the term “seasoning” before when it comes to cast iron. No this doesn’t mean spices. Haha. It refers to the process in which you protect your iron from rust and create a non-stick surface. Coat your pan with only a light coat of oil.
How To Season Cast Iron
- Wash Your Cast Iron
Use steel wool and warm water (not hot) and wash the oil excess oils away.
- Dry your pan
Wipe your iron dry and put on the stove to remove and remaining water. Once done, let your pan cool down.
Place an oven liner or tin foil on the lower rack to catch drips. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Oil Your Pan
Apply a thin coat of oil to your pan. Rub excess off with a soft cloth.
- Bake Your Cast Iron
Place your cast iron in the oven upside down so any excess oil drips off the pan. Cure your pan for an hour in the oven. Take care removing from the oven, remember, its heavy and hot! Let cool to room temperature and store.
Pro Tip: If your iron is sticky, it is from excess oil that did not finishing seasoning when it was heated.
Before You Go
I hope this is helpful and that you take the plunge and try out cast iron cookware. I think you will really love it. Before you leave, take a look at some of my recipes! In the comments, I’d love to hear what your own cast iron experience. Do you love it? What is your favorite piece?
- Perfect Spanish Rice
- Shrimp & Crawfish Étouffée
- Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
- Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas
- Cajun Bean Soup
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