Any cook knows the value of cast iron cookware. Aside from being extremely durable, economical, and versatile, it holds heat really well and cooks food evenly. Best of all, with a little care, (and some good paper towels,) it can last for generations. So, if you’ve been looking for answers about how to season and maintain your cast iron cookware, look no further.
*Before you begin, remember to always wear a good oven mitt when handling cast iron. The handle can heat up quickly and become very hot to the touch.
Forget the rosemary and thyme. “Seasoning” is the oil or fat that gets baked into a cast iron pan over time, and it’s what allows the cookware to develop a great non-stick quality.
To start seasoning your new pan, just follow these steps:
1. Place some foil on the bottom rack of your oven.
2. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
3. Heat the pan for 10 minutes and remove.
4. Using a Bounty paper towel, coat the pan with about 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening, lard, or bacon grease.
5. Stick the pan back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
6. Remove and pour out all of the excess fat or oil.
7. Return the pan to the top rack of the oven (position it over the foil to catch any drips) and continue to bake the pan for an hour.
8. After an hour, turn off the oven, and let the pan cool.
The more often you repeat this process, the more you’ll maintain and intensify your pan's seasoning.
Cleaning cast iron is a lot different than scrubbing your standard pots and pans. Following these simple steps will keep yours clean and around for years to come.
1. Rinse your (still warm, but not hot) pan with hot water and a sponge to remove food residue.
2. To remove stubborn stuck-on food, pour a cup of coarse kosher salt into your (still-warm) skillet, and scrub with a Bounty paper towel.
3. Rinse the pan with hot water.
*DO NOT let your cast iron cookware soak and avoid using soap to clean your cast iron. They will quickly remove the seasoning that takes so long to build up.
Cast iron and moisture do not mix, and drying and storing your cast iron improperly will cause them to rust. So here’s how to avoid that dilemma:
1. After you’ve rinsed it out, return your cast iron to the stove and place it over a low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Once it has cooled, wipe it down with another Bounty paper towel to get rid of any leftover grease.
3. Store your cast iron cookware in a dry place with the lids off. If rust begins to appear, scour your pan with steel wool. (If this happens you’ll have to begin the seasoning process again.)