How To Clean and Maintain Cast Iron Cookware
- by Omaha Steaks
- Dec 28, 2021
A great way to cook a steak or burger is in a hot cast iron skillet on the stove or grill. Cast iron heats evenly and gets very hot which allows for excellent searing and a great crust. Well-maintained cast iron skillets can last a lifetime and are essentially nonstick when properly seasoned. Here are a few dos and don’ts for maintaining and cleaning your cast iron cookware.
Don’t Do This to Cast Iron
First, let’s talk about what you absolutely DON’T want to do when cleaning cast iron cookware.
- Don’t use soap
- Don’t use steel wool
- Don’t put in the dishwasher
- Don’t soak it in water
All of these will strip away the seasoning, leaving your cookware vulnerable to rust.
Now, let’s talk about the proper way to clean and care for your cast iron skillet.
How to Clean and Season Cast Iron Cookware
After the initial seasoning, you will need to properly maintain your cast iron cookware to keep it well-seasoned, clean, and avoid rust.
1. Remove Grease
For easier cleaning, clean your cast iron cookware while it is still warm, but not too hot to handle. Since you can’t soak cast iron in water (it will rust), cleaning while it’s still warm is the easiest way to remove stuck-on food. Start the cleaning process by pouring any grease from the skillet into a container for disposal.
2. Wipe with a Paper Towel
Fold a paper towel and then wipe the skillet to remove any bits of grime and grease.
3. Wash by Hand
Always wash your cast iron by hand using hot water and a soft sponge to gently scrub. Avoid steel wool or soap because it will strip the pan’s seasoning. And, whatever you do, never put it in the dishwasher.
4. Remove Stuck-on Food
To remove food stuck to the cookware, scrub with a paste of kosher salt and water using a soft sponge. Then rinse or wipe with a paper towel. Very stubborn food can be loosened by boiling water in the pan, then gently scrubbing once cooled.
5. Dry Cast Iron Cookware
Once the cookware is clean, thoroughly dry with a paper towel or lint-free cloth towel. To prevent rusting, your cast iron skillet must be completely dry before storing.
Using a paper towel, apply a light coat of vegetable oil to the clean, dry cast iron cookware. Now, put the skillet over medium heat on the stove top and allow the oil to cook off slightly (about 5 minutes). This step will ensure your cast iron remains essentially non-stick and is ready to use again!
Cast Iron Skillet Frequently Asked Questions
What Foods Should You Avoid Cooking in a Cast Iron Skillet?
Cast iron is a great for most foods, but avoid acidic foods, like tomatoes, lemon juice, wine, or vinegar. The high level of acid in the food can react with the metals in the pan, strip the seasoning, and give your food an undesirable metallic flavor.
How Do You Maintain Seasoning on Cast Iron Cookware?
The more you cook with your cast iron skillet, the more seasoned it will become. Try using your cast iron to pan-sear a steak indoors or to cook burgers on the grill (the burgers will be incredibly juicy). Always make sure to clean it properly and lightly season after each use to ensure it lasts a lifetime.
When Should You Re-Season a Cast Iron Skillet?
Using your cast iron skillet regularly with proper maintenance and cleaning should be enough to keep the seasoning intact. However, If you stripped the seasoning during the cooking process (acidic foods like tomatoes have a tendency to strip the seasoning) or the cleaning process, simply follow these steps to re-season it.
Can You Restore and Re-Season a Rusty Cast Iron Pan?
Unless your cast iron pan is completely rusted through, you can easily restore it to its former glory! This is the only time it’s okay to use steel wool on a cast iron pan. Scour the rusty sections with steel wool and wash in warm, soapy water. Once the rust is removed, treat it like you would a new cast iron skillet and re-season it completely.
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