Cast iron is a porous material that rusts easily. As a result, it typically requires seasoning before use.
If cast iron cookware is well seasoned it can develop a non-stick surface after being used for a while. When a non-stick surface has developed, cast iron cookware is a good choice for egg dishes. Other uses of cast iron pans include baking and frying as it can withstand very high temperatures.
How to season new cast iron cookware or re-season cast iron when it shows rust marks after been used.
Wash the pan with hot, soapy water using a stiff brush or an abrasive sponge, then rinse it well and dry it completely using a pastry brush, a paper towel or a soft cloth,
Coat your cast iron cookware (inside and out) with vegetable oil, canola oil or grape seed oil (not olive oil, which has a tendency to burn at high temperatures) or melted shortening. Place in a 300 degree F oven for one hour, then turn off the oven and let the cookware cool completely in the oven.
Remove, and wipe off any liquefied shortening. Your pan is now seasoned!
- To avoid a mess in the oven, while seasoning, place a piece of foil under the pan.
- A true no-stick surface takes time to form. In the beginning only use your pan for meats and other fatty foods.
- For the best cooking results, preheat your cast iron cookware before adding the food.
How to Clean Cast Iron Cookware
1. Wash your cast iron in warm soapy water immediately after use, some cast iron users feel it’s best to stick to water only. Do not scrub too vigorously, and take care not to submerge the pan in water. This could cause damage to the seasoning on the pan.
2. Dry your cookware completely. Cast iron will rust if it isn’t dried immediately after washing. After drying down with a towel it is recommended to be placed in the stove over low heat for a minute or two to pull out any remaining moisture. If desired, lightly coat the inside of the pan with oil and heat for a minute or two longer. This will help to restore any seasoning that might have been lost during washing.
3. To further protect against rusting, store your cookware with the lid off. Many cast iron users also recommend placing a paper towel inside the cookware to absorb any additional moist.
Cast Iron Maintenance Tips
- Cook over low heat, to avoid damage to the pan
- Use plastic or wooden cooking utensils to prevent scratching
- Remove acidic foods from your pans immediately after cooking, and wash promptly to prevent damage to the seasoning
- Do not store foods in cast iron, as this can break down the seasoning
- Never submerge cast iron in water
- Never put cold water in a hot pan; this can cause the pan to crack or warp
- Do not wash cast iron in the dishwasher
- For roasting or baking in the oven, if possible, heat the cast iron pan first – for instance, when making cornbread, place the buttered pan in the oven as the oven preheats, then when the oven is hot, pour the batter in and return the pan to the oven.
- The handles of cast iron cookware get hot. Be sure to use a pot holder.
- Rust spots can be scoured away with a handful of coarse salt or an abrasive cleaning sponge. Re-season (see above) the pan or oil the part of the pan where the rust had been.
- Cast iron is a very slow conductor of heat and forms hot spots if heated too quick,