Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Works For Me - Cast Iron Care

I really love to cook with my cast iron cookware. My favorite skillet is one that belonged to my grandmother - it is so seasoned that it cooks like you wouldn't believe and nothing sticks to it! Here is some information that I've learned along the way about caring for cast iron.

  • Cast iron is very cost effective. It is so durable that it will last a lifetime or longer with proper care. It is an excellent heat conductor - can go from stove top to oven - it is very versatile. It isn't used by as many people today mainly because it is heavy and a lot of people don't know how to properly season it.

  • Seasoning cast iron is done so the pan will become non-stick and to seal the pores so there will be no odor retention. Here's how you do it:
  1. Lightly oil the pan with vegetable oil. If it has a lid, oil it as well.
  2. Place the pan (and lid) in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
  3. Make sure the pan is placed in upside down - this is essential or the oil will bake in the pan and leave a sticky residue.
  4. It might take 2-3 times of doing this before it is seasoned well for the first use.
  • If you store your cast iron with paper towels between the pans, the towels will absorb any moisture and prevent rusting.
  • If the pan has been seasoned improperly and is already sticky, you can remove this residue with LOTS of elbow grease using steel wool with no detergent and hot water. After it is clean, re-season it.
  • If there is rust, you must scrub it and then re-season it. For severe rust, you can put the pan in your oven on the self-cleaning setting, then wash the pan and re-season it.
  • I rarely wash my cast iron skillets with detergent, just a rinse and wipe dry seems to keep them clean and rust free.
  • If you cook anything with a tomato or very acid sauce in your cast iron, you might need to re-season it.

If you've never cooked with cast iron, I really encourage you to give it a try! We haven't used non-stick cookware in our house for years - I rely solely on my cast iron and my stainless steel cookware that has copper bottoms.


Jennifer said...

I love my cast iron skillet, too, and it was also my grandmother's. Slick as silk. But I appreciate your seasoning tips, because I just bought 1 for each of my daughters, hoping to get them seasoned for them before they marry - in another decade or two! :) I saw them and couldn't resist...
thanks again!

Mandy said...

I love cooking with cast iron, but every now and then it gets sticky and I never knew why!

Thank you so much for the tips. No more sticky pans!

Nikki said...

I foolishly got rid of my cast iron pans when I got my Pampered Chef cookware. Even though I really like the cookware, I definitely miss my cast iron pans. What you mentioned about it going straight from stovetop to oven is so true! And my Pampered Chef cookware can't go above 350 degrees like cast iron can.

I'm sold.

I'll buy some new ones this week. Or maybe I could get some new used ones at the thrift store.

Thanks. :)

Nikki said...

Oh, and my husband will thank you. He laments their loss frequently.

Stephanie said...

I love my cast iron too! To clean it I scrape with those scrapers you get with your stoneware. They work great on cast iron

Kara said...

Thanks for the tips :) We have a cast-iron skillet but don't use it too much because it's heavy and I don't know how to clean it. We do take it camping though, it's great to use to cook over a fire.

ellen b said...

Thanks for your great cast iron care tips. I sometimes avoid cast iron cuz the seasoning etc. confuses me...

Kathleen Marie said...

I would not trade my skillet for anything and according to Good Housekeeping they are also an added source of iron!


Laane said...

I've one cast iron one and I use it frequently.

But it's heavy..

Thanks for remembering how to season it.

Adena (cre82learn) said...

Thanks for this post!!! My grandmother passed away last month and I got to pick something that I wanted to keep of hers - I chose her cast iron skillets!! Now, I know that they will be around for a long time.

Charity said...

I have been wanting to get a cast iron pan, but had no idea how to care for it. Thank you for these great tips!