Proper Care of Cast Iron

• 23 October 2007

B's parents introduced us to the world of cast iron cookware around the time we married and we've used them a zillion times since. These tough pans are perfect for a myriad of recipes such as roast chicken, roast beef, roasted vegetables, etc.

Guests often comment on these pans and ask questions like, "where to you purchase one?" and "how do you clean it?" and "how do you season it?", etc. Here are the answers to all those questions and a few tips from Martha.

Where to Buy: Antique stores or Kmart--Martha's Everyday line over there offers cast iron pans now.

How to Clean: The most important thing to remember about cast iron is to never use soap during the cleaning process. It will ruin the finish. Just use warm water and a sponge/scrub brush to get off any dirt particles. If you have stubborn stains, use coarse salt and a sponge. That will do the trick!

How to Season (per Martha):

Seasoning a cast-iron pan gives it a smooth, nonstick surface that actually improves with age. When you buy a new cast-iron pan, the first thing you should do is wash it in hot, soapy water. Dry the pan thoroughly, first with a dishcloth, and then in an oven heated to 300 degrees for several minutes. You must dry the pan completely to prevent rust. Then pour about a tablespoon of oil into the pan, and rub it over the surface with a paper towel. Be careful not to use too much oil or the coating will be too thick. Place the pan in a 300 degrees oven for about an hour, then remove it and let it cool. Wipe away the excess oil, and your pan will be ready to use.

To keep a seasoned cast-iron pan in good condition, simply wipe it with a paper towel and a little oil after each use to clean it. If there are stuck-on food particles, use hot water and a brush or nylon scouring pad to clean them away (never use soap). If necessary, pour some water into the pan, and boil it on top of the stove for a few minutes to eliminate stubborn food pieces. Dry and reseason the pan between washings.


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