In a previous post, I discussed what’s cool (and healthy) about cooking with Cast Iron. If you want to catch up and check that article out just click on this title: “Tip of the Week-Cooking with Cast Iron & Creative Grilled Cheese Ideas”.
This week’s tip is a follow up on how to take care of your cast iron. Let’s talk first about Cleaning.
Washing Your Cookware:
Some people will tell you to never use soap to clean your cast iron. It depends on what I am cooking as to if I use soap or not. If I am making something like grilled cheese for example, I don’t use soap. With grilled cheese you can actually just wipe out the pan with a napkin when done (if there is no baked on cheese in your pan) and the bit of grease from the butter you had on the bread will help “season” the pan for the next use.
For most things I cook in cast iron, I would want to rinse the pan out with very hot water and use a scrubie brush to get it clean. However, if you are cooking a meat, like fish for example, or something else that is pungent (like onion or garlic), I do personally wash my pans out with hot soapy water . The reason why is because if you just wipe the pan out or rinse with hot water (like some people suggest) your pan can retain the odors, and the next time you cook in it your food could taste fishy for example.
Whichever way you choose to clean your cast iron above, there are 2 important things you will for sure want to do:
- Do NOT soak your pans in water or soapy water like you would do with other pans or dishes. Soaking causes the pans to rust and get damaged (like pitted for one)
- Make sure to thoroughly dry your pans out after cleaning, or they will rust and get damaged over time
So the idea here is that we are not immersing the pans in water to soak, but are just rinsing them out with hot water and/or soap.
In my opinion, wiping the pans dry after you wash them is not the best way. To get your pans thoroughly dry I do one of 2 things. I either set them on top of a lit burner on the stove until all the moisture is out, or I put them in an oven (at like 350 degrees) for like 15 min. to dry. This will ensure the pans are dried out and won’t rust or pit.
What if my pan is old or rusty already?
For rusty cast iron pans, put them in the sink and turn on the hot water and scrub them with steel wool. Dry them with method listed above.
Now that our pans are clean, how do we season or re-season them?
I personally use a little olive oil to season my cast iron pans. Just put a little bit of oil in the bottom of the pan and use a napkin or paper towel to spread it around and cover the whole surface of your cookware. Now pop your cookware in the oven at 350 degrees and let it “bake” in there for about 45 min. to an hour and then turn off the oven and let the pan cool before removing it. You probably could also use the stove top burners to bake the oil on. You can repeat the above steps a few times if wish, to get your pans to be better seasoned and more non stick.
On a final note: of course Cast Iron gets really hot, so even if drying your pan out on the stove top you will want to always use hot pads when touching the handle or any part of the pan.