Cast iron is a great choice in cook-ware material. It is cheap, strong, holds heat well, heats up evenly and should last a life-time or more. However, to remain in great shape you will need to bear a few things in mind. In this guide to caring for your cast iron cookware you will find information to ensure that your investment kitchen pieces last long enough to be handed down through the generations in your family.
Whether you have a simple skillet, or a heavy Lodge Dutch oven, there are a few simple rules to follow if you want to keep cast iron cookware looking great, and cooking food even better:
1. Cooking in Cast Iron
- To prevent thermal shock, and ensure pots heat evenly, you should always start your cooking with an empty pan placed over a low to medium heat for a few minutes to pre-heat it. Once the surface has warmed well add your oil or fat and get cooking.
- Remember cast iron will retain heat for a long time, so when you turn something off, it will stay warm and even continue cooking for a good while longer.
- Always use silicone or wooden utensils since metal ones could damage the non-stick patina inside the pan.
- Never place a hot pan into cold water since thermal shock could cause the iron to crack.
- Remember these are heavy items, so be prepared for a serious work out when taking full casseroles out of an oven!
2. Cleaning Cast Iron
- Wash cast iron in hot water without detergent (which might remove the seasoning).
- Use a nylon brush or scrubber to prevent scratching the surface.
- Burnt on foods can be removed easily by adding a little water to the pan and putting it on a medium heat to bubble the food off itself.
- Mild soap may be used when things are really dirty, but no detergent!
- Always dry the pan thoroughly and store somewhere dry and well ventilated. Trapped moisture may cause rust spots if the seasoning is anything less than perfect.
3. Seasoning Cast Iron
Nowadays most cast iron cookware comes ready seasoned. As you use it, tiny layers of cooking oil will further strengthen this seasoning resulting in a shiny non-stick patina that helps the cook no-end. However if the pot has been used or washed without care the seasoning may be lost. Re-seasoning is simply a matter of applying a thin layer of vegetable oil and baking the pot in a medium low oven for 3 hours.
Cast iron cookware will last a life-time, and importantly, will give great results in the kitchen providing these simple tips are followed