Cast iron cookware is valued for its durability and tolerance of high cooking temperatures. There are many things to know when it comes to caring for cast iron, but don’t be scared away. It’s easy to maintain these pieces once you know how. Here we will cover the basics on how to care for and clean cast iron.
How to Clean
Even though it has a reputation for being difficult, cast iron doesn’t require any special tools or techniques for cleaning. In a way, it’s one of the easiest and simplest things to clean. Just wipe down with hot water and a sponge. That’s it. If you need to scrub off stuck-on food, rub the pan with a mixture of salt and water and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush. It’s best to clean the piece while it’s still warm. Make sure to dry your clean cast iron immediately with a paper towel, a rag dedicated to drying cast iron, or by putting the cast iron on the stove with low heat for 5 to 15 minutes. (We say to use a special rag rather than just any because whatever you use to wipe with will get covered in grease and residue.)
How Not to Clean Cast Iron
Cast iron is nonstick due to a layer of oils and fats on the cooking surface (which is also why your drying towel will get so gross). If you use certain things to clean, they will wear away the nonstick coating and make your cookware harder to use. Here’s what not to do:
- Don’t use soap.
- Don’t wash in the dishwasher.
- Don’t use steel wool.
- Don’t soak in water.
As with any list of rules, there are caveats and disagreements. Some people say mild dish soap is fine on a well-seasoned pan, others avoid it. Some say you also shouldn’t use metal utensils; others insist it’s fine. Do your research, but when in doubt, these basic rules will help you maintain a clean and nonstick surface.
How to Season
Adding (or repairing) cast iron’s nonstick coating is called seasoning and it’s easy to do:
- Preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Completely cover the clean cooking surface of the cast iron in a thin layer of oil or shortening.
- Place the cast iron in the oven seasoned-side facing down. Place aluminum foil below the cast iron to catch oil drips.
- Bake the piece for an hour.
- After an hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware completely cool before removing.
That’s it! Over time, you will build up a thick nonstick coating.
Clean Cast Iron is Easy
It’s not so scary owning cast iron! Just follow these tips to maintain your nonstick coating while keeping everything clean. If you treat your cookware well, it’ll pay you back for years to come with delicious food. See how using club soda can help you remove rust from your cast iron.