Cooking with cast iron is awesome. There, we said it.
If you haven’t cooked with cast iron, you’re missing out! Its nonstick coating naturally improves with time, it holds heat better than any other metal and it’s virtually indestructible! At the Best Stop, we’ve been cooking with cast iron for years—so much so, that it’s basically become second nature to us.
However, recently we discovered that many people are confused by the extra steps it takes to keep up black pots. Because of this, many people are hesitant to use them in cooking despite all of their advantages. To help, we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know to keep your cast iron cookware fresh.
Cleaning Cast Iron
If you’re at all familiar with cast iron, then you’ve probably heard that you’re not supposed to wash it with soap. We know what you’re probably thinking, “wait….not washing cookware with soap? That doesn’t sound right!”
However, that’s not exactly true. Contrary to popular belief, you can use soap to clean cast iron. In fact, many people recommend doing it the first time you purchase a new skillet or whenever you plan to apply a new coat of seasoning! However, you don’t want to frequently wash with soap for two main reasons: 1) you risk washing away the protective oil ‘seasoning’, and 2) cast iron is very porous compared to other metals.
We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that you don’t want to remove the oil coating which makes cast iron so desirable, and you certainly don’t want to bake a soapy flavor into your cookware (and by extension all of your food—yuck!)
So what do you clean cast iron with? Salt!
Salt Saves the Day
Most of the time when you’re cleaning cast iron, you can get by with simply rinsing your pan with warm water and using a brush to scrape off any stuck-on bits. However, if you’re dealing with particularly stubborn cookware, salt does the trick just fine.
Start by using kosher salt, oil and a soft, dry cloth to scrape your pan clean, then rinse and wipe it down afterward. If you do this, be sure to dry the cast iron with a clean towel and place it over low heat. Add oil back onto the pan and rub it into the surface and let it cool. This will help prevent rust from forming!
However, if you’re really itching to clean your cast iron for a brand-new finish you can get by with using soap to clean it, but be ready to reseason your cast iron to keep it right!
Seasoning Cast Iron
No, we’re not talking about cayenne. When it comes to ‘seasoning’ cast iron, we’re actually talking about making your pan nonstick through the application of oil. Traditionally, this was done with animal lard, but just about any oil will work fine—except for vegetable oil (it’ll create a sticky coating).
The interesting thing about cast iron is that the more you use it, the more seasoned it will become. However, as you use and clean it, it’s important to habitually reseason a pan to give it a fresh, clean layer of seasoning to aid with cooking and to protect from rust.
Season Your Cast Iron
- Start by preheating the oven to 300°F
- Place some foil on the bottom rack of your oven and place your pan on the top rack
- Heat your cast iron for around 10 minutes and remove it
- Coat the pan with about a tablespoon of oil
- Place it back in the oven for around 10 minutes
- Take it out and remove any excess oil
- Place the cast iron back in the oven upside down and position it over the layer of foil
- Bake the cast iron for an hour, then turn off the heat and let it cool
Voila! You now have a perfectly seasoned cast iron pan ready for cooking! While it may sound like a lot of upkeep, seasoning cast iron isn’t something that has to be done often and the result is a nonstick coating that’s built to last.
Well now that you have a perfectly prepped cast iron pan ready to go, you just need something to cook in it! Lucky for you, we know just the spot to get the best cuts of quality meat. Check out The Best Stop in Scott, Louisiana for the hook up in specialty meats, cajun treats and everything you need to put your new cookware to the test! Best of all, we ship our award-winning products nationwide!