How to Care for Cast Iron Pans
I LOVE my cast iron, I use them all the time. The cool part is, take care of them and hey will last forever. Here are my tips and tricks for caring for cast iron pans.
Cast iron skillets should preferably be seasoned before cleaning. This process involves heating the pan until it glows red-hot then rubbing cooking oil into the surface by hand. The oil fills in tiny pores on the surface that would otherwise hold dirt and grime during cleaning, which prevents cast iron kitchen tools from sticking in future meals. Seasoned cast iron skillets only require cleaning with hot water, mild soap or a scrubbing pad occasionally to remove stubborn dirt and grime. For most cleaning purposes you do not need to season your cast iron skillet after cleaning.
How do you clean a cast-iron skillet?
Wash your cast iron cookware by cleaning it after each use. Some cleaning methods are more effective than others, and some cleaning methods can harm the seasoning of the skillet. You should never use harsh soap to wash a cast iron skillet. Abrasive cleaners like steel wool pads or scouring powders (like Comet) can remove the seasoning and cause food to stick.
If you fry bacon in it, run some kosher salt through it afterwards and you should be good to go!
The preferred method is to hand wash your cast iron using a cast iron scraper and hot water. If you have stuck on food, a cast iron scrubber might be necessary. Normally you don't need soap just hot water but on some occasions I find I need a little. Stick with mild soaps like Caron & Doucet - Cast Iron Cleaning Soap.
After cleaning, let the pan air-dry to prevent rusting. Then coat all surfaces with an even layer of hot oil then wipe away any excess oil with a paper towel or cloth rag. I like to heat up my oven and put them in for a few minutes to set the oil.
I actually store my pans in the oven. I heat it up and let them cook for about 10 minutes and then just shut it off. Keeps the seasoning in tact!
Can you ruin a cast iron pan? Yes
You can ruin your cast iron skillet if you do not care for it properly. Without cleaning and maintenance, cast iron skillets will eventually rust away to nothing after extended exposure to the air. Some cleaning methods may also damage seasoning on cast iron skillets, making food stick when cooked in future meals and potentially leading to burns from sticking or burning food.
How do I clean and restore cast iron?
Wash the gummy residue off the skillet under hot running water. Soak a cleaning cloth in warm soapy water and wipe down the entire pan, inside and out. Dry thoroughly. Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil or shortening with bare hands directly on the surface of the skillet. Leave it for half an hour and then wipe off extra grease with paper towels. Heat in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool. Repeat - add more oil and cook for another 30. You may need to do this several times to get the pan re-seasoned.
How does cast iron seasoning work?
Seasoning is what makes it nonstick. It is not so much that you're adding fat to it but more like building up layers of oil on top of the iron that make it smooth and nonstick. Every time you cook with cast iron, some of the oil chemically bonds to the metal surface creating a better layer for cooking .
Can you use steel wool to clean cast iron?
No, always use a cleaning pad that is made from cotton or from wood as this will not damage your kitchen tools. It can be very tempting to scrub cast iron with cleaning pads but this can result in scratches and other forms of permanent damage to the cooking surface of the utensils
How often should you season cast iron?
You should re-season it every time you wash it . This ensures that your cast iron stays well protected and maintains its nonstick qualities. Simply wipe it down using vegetable oil after each cleaning session. Wipe off excess vegetable oil within several minutes after applying so that it hardens on the surface of the cookware. This helps preserve its nonstick qualities for making delicious meals with little effort! Seasoning does not require you to scrub the cast iron beforehand; cleaning it with a cleaning pad is sufficient enough. It is not 100% necessary that you season your pan before the first use. You may start using it immediately after cleaning and wiping down the surface with vegetable oil . Do not soak your cast iron cleaning utensils overnight, as this will damage them beyond repair.
Can I leave my cast iron cookware outside in bad weather?
Never leave your cast iron cleaning utensils outside overnight, as this will damage them beyond repair. Cast iron cleaning tools with wooden handles should never be left in the rain or snow for extended periods of time, either. This may lead to its wooden handle to rot away. Be sure to clean your cleaning utensils after every use and before storing them away