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:
- Lightly oil the pan with vegetable oil. If it has a lid, oil it as well.
- Place the pan (and lid) in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
- 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.
- 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.