Methods to Maintaining Your Cast Iron
Cast iron cookware has been around for many generations, odds are you or someone you know has come across a cast iron pot or skillet that’s either been handed down or given as a gift. Upon looking at a cast iron fry pan you may wonder how to properly clean that pan so that the seasoning remains in-tact. However, even though cast iron is a little more high-maintenance than other pans, the results and taste of all of the wonderful recipes you can cook with it are well-worth the efforts!
Because cast iron is well-loved in the cooking community there are many varying methods of maintaining and cleaning it. The most important thing to keep in mind when cleaning a skillet, pot or pan made of cast iron is not to damage or remove the seasoning on the pan. Another thing to remember is not to wash it with soap after every use. The only time soap should be used is after it is first purchased and after stripping the old seasoning.
You may be wondering what’s wrong with using soap? Well, there are a few who will swear that washing with soap and water after every use does no harm. However, the majority of cast iron enthusiasts and cooking professionals agree that soap may wash away the non-stick elements that a cast iron pan develops over time with seasoning. However, one thing that is unanimously agreed upon when caring for cast iron is that it should never put in the dishwasher.
With that being said, the steps to cleaning are relatively simple. What you’ll need is warm running water, a sponge or stiff non-metal brush, kosher salt, and oil with high unsaturated fat content.
Step 1: Do not Use Soap After Seasoning
Upon first purchasing your cast iron piece it is okay to wash in mild soapy water. After that, refrain from doing so unless, down the road, you need to remove the seasoning and re-season your pan.
Step 2: Add Kosher Salt
Pour some kosher salt into the pan while it is still warm and scrub using a paper towel. The salt will help get tough food that may be stuck in the pan. If food is not stuck in the pan you can simply use warm water a sponge, non-metal brush or scraper to scrub the pan.
Step 3: Rinse with Warm Water
After scrubbing the kosher salt, rinse the pan with warm water. Be sure to dry immediately after to prevent rust from forming.
Step 4: Dry Thoroughly
Dry the pan thoroughly. You can do this with a towel or you can return the pan to the burner and turn the burner on low until the pan is dry.
Step 5: Lightly Re-Season Pan
Thoroughly rub 1-2 teaspoons (depending on the size of the pan) of flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, or soy bean oil all over the surface of the pan to keep it from drying out. The highly unsaturated fat in those oils will oxidize and polymerize more quickly. Some also like to use shortening, vegetable or olive oil.
Step 6: Store Safely
Store your cast iron lined with a paper towel to keep it from getting scratched. Or simply store it in the oven to keep it dry and easy to access.
*For more in-depth information on seasoning new cast iron or stripping and re-seasoning your beloved cookware, view our article here.