A well-seasoned cast iron pan is one of the best cooking surfaces you can have in your culinary arsenal. It’s durable and heats food evenly. However, cast iron skillets have gained a reputation for being hard to clean and maintain.
Luckily, we’re here to make the process of caring for your cast iron pan a breeze.
Keep Your Pan Well-Seasoned
While cast iron is certainly resilient, it doesn’t mean it’s not susceptible to damage. That’s why keeping your pan well-seasoned is so important.
Properly seasoning your cast iron skillet provides a protective surface around the entire pan. Cooking utensils and improper cleaning methods can break through the seasoning, which is the last thing you want.
Vegetable oil is great for seasoning cast iron. Over time, it prevents food from sticking and rust from forming. Next time you store your cast iron cookware, give it a light wipe-down of oil. The Kitchn has an excellent guide to seasoning cast iron cookware.
When to Clean Cast Iron Cookware
Cleaning your cast iron pan as soon as possible after cooking with warm water and a soft towel can help food from sticking to the pan itself and makes the cleaning process a bit easier. Scrubbing with harsh tools can cut right through its seasoning.
If there’s still a need to remove any stubborn food still stuck to the pan after rinsing, we suggest a half cup of coarse grain salt to scour the pan with either a paper or cloth towel. The salt should help cut through any remaining crud left in the pan while leaving the seasoning coat intact. Rinse well once all food residue has been removed.
Also… we can’t stress this enough: make sure that your pan is completely dry before storing it away! Even the smallest amount of water left behind can lead to rust.
Can I use soap to clean cast iron?
There are many people out there that will tell you that soap is the enemy of cast iron cookware. While in some cases this may be true, mild soap typically isn’t an issue. A couple of drops of mild dish soap can help loosen stuck on grime, but just be sure to use a soft rag or sponge and rinse extremely well.
Adding a light layer of unsaturated oil such as, canola, corn, or vegetable oil around the entire pan before storing will ensure your pan stays well-seasoned. This will also make your food less likely to stick the next time you cook. Once coated with oil and wiping any excess away, store your cast iron skillet at room temperature away from humidity.
Cleaning Rusted Cast Iron
So your cast iron skillet has some rust. It happens! Now what? If your pan has seen better days, a simple cleaning with a little elbow grease, warm water, mild soap and a steel wool pad should help to loosen the surface rust and bring your pan back to new.
Once the pan has been rinsed free and the surface rust has been removed it is just the simple process of adding vegetable oil as stated above, and storing in a cool, dry place until its next use.
Caring for cast iron skillets doesn’t have to be daunting. With these cleaning and maintenance tips, your cookware should last for generations to come.