How to Clean Cast Iron Cookware

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Are you curious about how you should clean cast iron cookware? Cast iron is a great material for cooking, as it retains heat well and cooks evenly. Cast iron has been used for centuries, originally being used to cook over open fires. This kind of cookware gets better with age, as it forms that shiny black patina that is associated with cast iron skillets.  Follow these instructions to get your cookware clean without ruining the patina.

Remove Any Film before Using

When you buy a piece of cast iron cookware, you usually can’t begin cooking right away. There is some preparation that must be done first in most circumstances. In many cases, the cast iron will come with a protective layer that must be removed before use. This is a coating that helps prevent the cookware from rusting during the shipping and packaging process. You can use hot soapy water to remove this layer. Then, allow the pan to dry completely. Cast iron cookware has tiny openings, so it is porous. Allow the pan to dry overnight or place it in a 125 degree oven for twenty minutes.

Season before Cooking

The next step in preparing your cast iron cookware is to season it. Cast iron needs to be seasoned in order to create a nice nonstick surface. Over time and usage, the pan will continue to season. Seasoning your cookware is very easy. All you do is coat all surfaces of it with oil, preferably a solid version like lard or Crisco. Make sure it is just a thin layer, as excess oil will get gummy. Then bake the cookware, upside down, in a 350 degree oven for around an hour. Place a pan or some aluminum foil underneath the cookware to catch any drippings. Let the piece cool down and then wipe in with a towel to give it a nice shine. You can begin cooking after one seasoning, but repeating this process can really improve the surface of the cookware.

Routine Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware

Routine cleaning of your cookware after use should just be done with hot water. As you continue to use your cast iron, the coating on the surface will become stronger and cleaning will be easier. Use a cloth or plastic utensil to gently dislodge any cooked on food. Don’t ever soak your pan in water, as this could cause the pan to rust. Certain companies also sell cleaners that are specifically for cast iron. They help remove food without compromising the nonstick layer. It is recommended that you coat the cookware with a bit of cooking oil after it is dry. Then store it with a lid on, but offset, to allow air circulation.

Occasionally a pan may rust. Any noticeable rust should be taken care of immediately. There are several ways of doing this. For smaller spots that are easier to remove, a scour pad or wire brush can chip away the rust. Some people swear by soaking the pan in cola, as the acidity helps to break down the rust. Another technique is using oven cleaner to remove dust. Afterwards, the pan will need to be cleaned and re-seasoned.

One Response to “How to Clean Cast Iron Cookware”

  1. January 15, 2010 at 6:17 pm, Paula from Only Cookware said:

    Looking after cast iron cookware does require a bit of work but it is worth it in the end for the results that can be achieved. Plus over time, it does become easier and easier to look after it as the non-stick surface builds up.

    I also like enameled cast iron cookware as there isn’t a need to season the cookware like bare cast iron. The purists may not agree but it’s good for those who don’t want to have to spend the time looking after their cast iron.


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