Cast iron can be a cook’s best friend, but just like any good tool, they require some maintenance. Do you know what to do to care for them? Learn everything you need to know about cast iron care and maintenance in this article.
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The Beginner’s Guide To Cast Iron Care
Welcome to the world of cast iron, once you get the first one you’ll be addicted! Our cast iron pans are my very favorite to use because anything we cook in them tastes AMAZING!
Cast Iron Care: The First Cleaning
Congratulations you are the proud new owner of a cast iron pan, but now what? Whether your pan is brand spanking new and you are pulling the sticker off, or you were lucky enough to find one at a yard sale you should clean it when you bring it home just to remove and grim it picked up before you bought it.
The first step in cast iron care is a good cleaning. Use a little bit of soap and water to gently clean your cast iron, this is one of the only times we ever put soap on our cast iron pans. Use the non-rough side of a sponge and wash your pan. Thoroughly dry your cast iron pan and oil it before storing your pan.
A note on washing your cast iron, many people say not to ever let water or soap come near your cast iron so it doesn’t spoil the flavor of your pans (which improve with each time you use them). It’s really up to you if you’ll use soap and water on your cast iron, we do recommend if your cast iron is new or from a yard sale or thrift store that you wash it. To avoid using soap in your cast iron pans try scrubbing out your cast iron cookware with about a tablespoon of coarse salt.
How To Season Cast Iron
Step 2 when it comes to cast iron care is seasoning your pan. Whether your pan is new, or just new to you it’s a good idea to season your pan. Seasoning your cast iron pans forms a natural, easy-release cooking surface and helps to keep your pans from rusting. This is a really easy process to do:
- Scrub out your cast iron skillet with hot water and a little soap (we like to use this one).
- Dry thoroughly (I like to stick my pan on the stove and turn the eye on just until it’s dry).
- Spread a thin layer of coconut oil over the bottom and sides of your cast iron skillet.
- Place your pan upside down in your oven with a cookie sheet or piece of foil to catch the melted oil and turn the oven up to 375F.
- Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and allow the pans to cool inside.
Why Is My Cast Iron Sticky After Seasoning?
If your cast iron becomes sticky after you season it, it’s a sign of oil build up in your pan. To fix this place your cast iron pots in the oven and bake at 400-500F for 1 hour. Allow it to cool in the oven, and repeat if necessary.
How To Restore A Rusty Cast Iron Skillet
A rusty cast iron skillet isn’t necessarily a bad skillet that needs to be tossed. The beauty of cast iron is the durability and the fact that you can restore them pretty easily. Rusty cast iron is usually caused by moisture or neglect (which can be a capital sin in the south, thankfully it’s pretty easy to fix).
To fix a rusty cast iron pan:
- Remove any rust from your pan with fine steel wool. Scrub the pan with it until it returns to its original raw cast iron.
- Wash the cast iron skillet thoroughly with hot water and mild soap. You can use a bristle brush or mesh sponge to scrub it if needed.
- Dry your skillet thoroughly with paper towels or a clean towel after you are done washing it.
- Imediently cover your pan with a layer of oil again (we like to use coconut oil). Make sure you get the handle and bottom. Don’t over oil your pan or you’ll get a sticky surface.
- Place your cast iron skillet in the oven and bake at 350 for an hour. Make sure you put foil or a cookie sheet beneath your cast iron to catch any oil drips.
- Let your cast iron pan cool before you use it or store it.
For really rusty cast iron pans you can try a vinegar soak, by mixing a basic white vinegar with water in equal parts and submerge your pan in it. This combination will dissolve the rust on your cast iron, but keep an eye on it because once it’s finished it will get to work on the original surface of your cast iron pan.
Cast Iron Care: How To Store Cast Iron
Storing your cast iron properly is a super important part of cast iron care, and there are a couple of ways to do it that will keep your pans ready for use.
- Cabinet: An out of the way dry kitchen cabinet is an optimal storage space for cast iron cookware. This will keep them away from moisture which quickly turns to rust on your cast iron pans. Make sure you dry your skillets thoroughly after they are exposed to any water.
- Hung: Hanging your cast iron away from moisture is a good way to store your cast iron cookware. Just make sure you secure them to studs because these babies are heavy.
- In The Oven: In your oven is a good place to store your pans (unless they have wooded parts) just remember to take them out before you heat your oven.
- On The Stove: keeping them on your stove as long as they are away from any moisture.
- Paper Towels: It’s always a good idea to stack your pans with paper towels between them to help prevent scratches and rust.
Cast Iron Care: Maintenance
The final stage of cast iron care is maintenance, to keep those pans and skillets looking gorgeous and ready to use.
How To Clean Your Cast Iron Pans
The final step in cast iron care is daily maintenance, after you finish seasoning your pans it’s only normal you’ll want to get cooking in them. Here’s how to care for your cast iron pans and skillets with daily or regular use.
- Rinse your cast iron pans with warm water and use a brush or scraper to remove any stuck-on bits. If you used enough fat for cooking, you might not need more than a quick rinse.
- If your pans have really stuck-on food, scrub with salt and oil, then rinse and wipe clean. Pour a few tablespoons of oil and a few tablespoons of salt into the pan and use a paper towel to scrub the pan with the mixture until it comes clean, then rinse.
- Dry the cast iron with a clean towel and then place it over low heat. Add a thin coat of oil, but make sure the oil doesn’t pool anywhere — one teaspoon wiped across the entire cooking surface is just right for most pans.
- Cool the pan and store until ready to cook again.
Are you supposed to wash cast iron pans?
That depends on who you ask, many people swear you should never put soap on your cast iron because it ruins the flavor. We choose to gently rinse or scrape down our pans when necessary. But really it’s up to you.
Should You Oil Pans After Every Use?
The short answer is it’s best to always oil your pans after you use them, with each layer you add you are adding another layer of seasoning to your cast iron pans making them better and better.
Is The Black Residue On Cast Iron Bad?
The black residue that you can sometimes find on your cast iron skillet isn’t harmful; it’s just a part of cooking with a cast iron pan.
Did we answer all of your how to cast iron care for you? If not drop them in the comments and we will do our best to answer them!
What To Cook In A Cast Iron Pan
- Cast Iron Dutch Apple Pie
- The Best Dinner Rolls In A Cast Iron Pan
- The #1 Best Shredded Hash Browns Recipe
- Here are some more great cast iron recipes
Before you go, check this out!