Whether you have a fun flea market find, family heirloom, or a new purchase, you need to learn How to Care for Cast Iron Cookware and be prepared for a lifetime of good eats made in this classic kitchen staple.
Most home chefs will tell you they have a favorite for almost everything in the kitchen. Favorite kitchen gadget, most efficient appliance, or in my case, my favorite cast iron skillet. That bad boy has traveled with me for years, from Alabama to Arizona, and 20+ years later on to Ohio! Cast iron cookware is so versatile and withstanding, I’ve acquired several more pieces over the years like these small skillets which are perfect for individual desserts!
How to Care for Cast Iron Cookware
Most cooks are very passionate about cleaning their cast iron cookware. You can research different methods on how to do this and find two distinct sets of individuals. The ones who use soap to clean their pans or the ones, like myself, who would rather be shot in the foot! There is nothing wrong with using a mild detergent on your cast iron, even the folks at Lodge Cast Iron confirmed it, but it’s not my preferred method.
Personally, I prefer a more natural method with sea salt, a potato, and old fashioned elbow grease.
The first thing to understand is what ‘seasoning’ is and how we make that happen. Most new pans are going to be pre-seasoned. Basically that means it has been treated with heat and oil to create a protective barrier that keeps moisture, which leads to rust, out. Every time you use your cast iron cookware, you are adding another protective layer. The seasoning on this skillet has worn down so I need to clean it up and re-season before using it again!
Restoring Cast Iron Cookware
The reason we use a potato is because of the moisture in it. A little ironic considering moisture got us into this mess, but true. There is just enough dampness from the potato to mix with the salt without dissolving it. Use a really course sea salt or kosher salt. This works on pans that need to be re-seasoned as well as seasoned pans that might have extra tough bits to scrub away. The salt acts as an abrasive that’s safe for the seasoning.
Once you get your potato + salt action going on, then it’s time to scrub. See how the rust is getting scrubbed away.
If the salt gets too dirty, simply wipe out the pan and add fresh! When all the gunk is scrubbed away, use a lint-free rag to wipe out your pan. This method works well for items that are not too badly rusted. If you have a really old piece that is completely covered in rust, you might need to get it sandblasted first. After that, you can use these steps to condition your newly rust-free cast iron cookware!
The next big step is to rinse your skillet/pan/Dutch oven and DRY it completely! I place my cast iron cookware on the stove on high heat to get it completely dry. Once it is dry, you’ll want to lightly coat it with cooking oil like canola, vegetable, or corn. Be sure to wipe out any excess.
Lastly, you want to heat the pan to seal it. If you are completely restoring a piece of cookware, then you need to bake it upside down at 350°F for one hour. I recommend placing foil in the bottom of your oven to catch any messy oil drips. If you are doing a daily conditioning, placing it on the stove again on high heat until it smokes slightly will do the trick.
We hope you find this Kitchen Hack on How to Care for Cast Iron Cookware from SoFabFood Home Chef, Loriann from Thyme for Cocktails, helpful! For more informational posts like this, be sure to stop by our Kitchen Hacks section to help you save time and money in the kitchen. For daily recipe inspiration, subscribe to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Pinterest. Enjoy!