Care For Your Cast Iron Cookware
Did you inherit a set of cast iron cookware from your parents, grandparents or relatives but don't know what to do with them? Did you see cast iron cookware in a garage sale and wonder if you should get it? Have you ever wonder why people are obssessed with cast iron cookware? Did you know it's more expensive to buy a seasoned than an unseasoned cast iron cookware and wonder why it is?
If you answer yes and curious to know more about cast iron cookware, allow me to explain. Cast iron cookware is AWESOME because it has excellent heat retention and diffusion properties. Cast iron cookware has been used for cooking for hundreds of years. They do not require high level of technology to be produced and formed. It is a great choice for searing, frying, baking and stewing.
Cast iron cookware is susceptible to rust so caring for (seasoning) your cookware is crucial. Since it is made of iron, it can be heavy to handle. Cast iron cookware can be very hot to handle because it retains alot of heat.
In recent years, cast iron cookware can be sold coated with enamel. The enamel coating prevents rust and does not require seasoning. However it can be more expensive than bare cast iron cookware.
In this entry, I'll focus on how to care for bare cast iron cookware.
When you purchase a new cookware, it appears medium gray in color, and eventually turns darker after several usages.
When you first obtain your bare cast iron cookware, ensure it is well seasoned. If it's not or you spot any rust on the cookware, here are some steps you can use to clean and season it:
1. Scrub off the rust under warm water with dish soap and scouring pad
2. Wipe dry with a dry towel or paper towel
3. Preaheat oven at 250 to 300 F
4. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil on the cast iron cookware. Coat every surface (top, bottom and sides) with oil. Use a paper towel if you wish
5. Place the cookware in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes
6. Remove the cookware from the oven. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. Coat evenly
7. Place the cookware back in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven
By now, you will see a glistening layer of oil on the surface of the cookware. It should be properly seasoned. Repeat the process several times, if you desire. This will help strengthen the seasoning bond to the cookware.
Some websites recommend using only lard or bacon fat. These fats can be rancid when burned. I highly recommend vegetable oil as it works and is cheaper.
When you cook with your cookware, remember to not scratch the surface. Food can be trapped in the crevices which requires extra cleaning.
After you cook with your cookware, clean it while it is still hot by rinsing with hot water and scraping if necessary. Dry the pan immediately and follow the steps above for seasoning. Another alternative is coat evenly the cookware with oil and heat it over low heat until the oil is completely absorbed into the cookware.
The oil coating helps to prevent rust as well as a natural way of creating a non-stick surface.
Store your cookware in a dry place as moisture can build up and create rust. Avoid putting lids on your cookware as they can maintain moisture in humid weather.
Do not store food in your cookware as the food can taste metallic. In addition, acidic food can break down the seasoning.
Cooking with cast iron cookware helps increase iron content in foods. Well seasoned cast iron cookware has a non-stick surface, thus is good for cooking delicious scrambled eggs and food that tends to stick on pans.
My landlord's seasoned cast iron cookware: 10-, 12- and 14-inch skillets, pie iron, Dutch oven with a glass lid and griddle.