Caring for cast iron cookware doesn’t have to be daunting. Just a few simple steps will keep it looking new and working great for years to come.
Several years ago we made the switch to cooking with cast iron. Previously, I had a set of stainless steel skillets that were a nightmare to clean. We also had some non-stick skillets but concerns about the coating and the safety of our food ended that.
Prior to moving to Alaska years ago, our family got a travel trailer and started camping. We still do today and love it every time we can have a fun weekend getaway together. Camping and cast iron seem to go hand-in-hand so we got our first skillet and griddle and started using them over the campfires we would have. Burgers for dinner, pancakes for breakfast, grilled sandwiches, and everything in between.
Our collection of cast iron began to grow and I liked cooking with them so much over the fire that I started using them at home as well. Now we have several skillets, griddles, bread pans, and a dutch oven (great for baking bread in). I love cooking with cast iron and they fit in perfectly with our Alaska log cabin. After all, it’s what pioneers used to cook their food on!
It took a little getting used to as cleaning and caring for cast iron cookware is a little different than standard cookware. But once you get the hang of it, it’s so simple.
Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware
Cleaning your cast iron is easy with a few simple steps:
- After cooking some foods, you will be able to just wipe out the inside of the cast iron with a cloth and set it aside until the next use.
- For messier foods, rinse the cast iron under water and scrub gently if needed.
- Dry thoroughly all over.
- Wipe oil over the entire surface then wipe again to remove any excess.
- Place it on the stovetop and turn the heat on. Let it sit for a few minutes to finish drying then turn the heat off.
- Allow to cool completely before putting away.
The more cast iron is used, the better the seasoning will become over time. It will have a naturally non-stick surface.
Reseasoning Cast Iron Cookware
If you end up with a rust covered piece of cast iron, it can be saved. Whether you picked one up from an antique shop or your husband went camping with some buddies and didn’t clean it properly (see example below!) it won’t take too much time to get it back in shape.
Here’s how I rescued this griddle and what to do if you pick up a dirty piece of cast iron while out antiquing:
- Start by thoroughly cleaning off all of the rust using a stainless steel scouring pad and water. Use soap if necessary.
- Dry completely all over.
- Using a lint-free cloth (I always use a tea towel), coat entire surface with oil. Rub it in really well and wipe off any excess.
- Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for one hour.
- Very carefully set it aside and allow to cool completely.
Tips for Cooking with Cast Iron
- Always allow cast iron cookware to preheat. Putting food in a cool pan will cause it to stick.
- Any utensil can be used with cast iron cookware. Wooden, silicon, and even metal are fine.
- Drizzle some oil in the pan before adding the food.
- Cast iron holds heat very well so be careful not to turn the stove up too high.
You can check out how we store some of our cast iron in this post. I love cooking with cast iron and am so glad that we made this switch years ago. I was intimidated at first but it didn’t take long to get the hang of caring for cast iron cookware.