Cast Iron (n.) - Iron containing about 1.7 % carbon, making it strong but also brittle. Unlike wrought iron, not malleable.
The great thing about cast iron is that it’s virtually indestructible. No matter what terrible misfortune you may bring upon your cast iron cookware there’s a good chance it can be fixed.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about being a successful cast iron owner.
Find The Base Layer
If you’re cast iron is brand new then you’re going to want to scrub it down to its base layer. Use steel wool, hot water and a mild dish soap to scrub the entire surface both inside and out. This can also be done if you need to bring your cast iron back to like due to rust. Remember that it takes time to season your pan so if you don’t take care of it you’ll have to start over by scrubbing it down to it’s base all over again.
Seasoning (n.) - The build-up over time of layers of carbonized and polymerized fats creating a non-stick cooking surface
After scrubbing your cast iron, rinse it thoroughly before towel-drying. After, place it in a hot oven. This will boil off any excess moisture. This will prevent your product from future rusting.
Cast iron cookware is porous and adding oil fills the pores to create a smooth, non-stick surface. Pour a small drop of oil into your cast iron and spread it around. Be sure to cover the entire inside and wipe away any excess oil so that it doesn’t leave your product sticky.
After coating in oil, place the cast iron upside down in the oven between 450°F and 500°F. The heat allows the oil to break down and bond with the cast iron. Leave in the oven for an hour before turning off the heat and letting the cast iron cool in the oven.
Do the above process at least twice a year. If this is the first time seasoning cast iron, you should do this process twice in a row.
Cooking With Cast Iron
If you’re using your cast iron on a stovetop, be sure to preheat on low to medium heat for 5=10 minutes before cooking. This will keep your food from sticking.
The key to cleaning your cast iron is to wash it soon after you’re done cooking. Letting it cook will cause food to stick. Washing while the cast iron is still warm will remedy hard to scrub messes.
Using salt and hot water with a non-metal scouring pad is a gentle and effective way to clean cast iron. The salt works to scrub off food without damaging the seasoning. If this method isn’t working, feel free to use a little bit of mild dish soap. If your cast iron is seasoned properly, this will do no harm.
Dry and Season
After scrubbing, rinse off cast iron and towel-dry. Then fully dry in a hot oven to evaporate excess moisture. While the cast iron is still warm, rub with a thin layer of oil and heat on the stove until the oil begins to smoke. Heating past the smoking point bonds the oil with the metal.
Smoke Point (n.) - Temperature at which a cooking oil or fat breaks down and begins to give off smoke