No other cookware is as durable, versatile and built to withstand the test of time as well as cast iron. If creating a minimalist kitchen is a goal, cast iron cookware will serve your purpose well. With a Dutch oven, a few skillets (of variant sizes,) a griddle, a pizza pan and a small and large saucepan, you will be set for creating nearly every type of recipe.
Cast iron cookware has no coatings to chip, crack or taint food. The biggest drawback to cast iron is rust, if not properly cared for.
Cast iron may be purchased raw or pre-seasoned. In either case, seasoning will be needed at some point. Seasoning helps the cast iron maintain a non-stick surface and protects the iron from rusting. Follow the steps below to achieve a perfect coating.
Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware
Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash cast iron piece gently with mild soap, rinse and dry thoroughly. Using shortening or suet, rub an even light coasting on the inside and outside of pan (and the lid, if applicable.) Wipe of any excess shortening.
Place pan in oven. If you are seasoning the lid, too, place it next to the pan, not attached to. All pieces need to cure separately. Season for 8 hours.
Turn off oven, open door to vent and allow pan to cool off for 1 hour. Remove from oven when cooled, set on bakers rack and allow pan to cool completely. Inspect pan. If you find spots where the pan did not season properly. Repeat seasoning process. Otherwise, the pan will now be seasoned and ready for use.
Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware
After cooking or baking, allow the pan to cool slightly, then use hot water and a cleaning cloth to remove food residue. The trick is to clean the pan without damaging the seasoned surface. If you clean your cast iron pans soon after cooking, while the pan is still warm, food residue will typically glide right off the pan with little effort. When the pan is allowed to sit too long and completely cool, it’s much more difficult to remove residue. Sometimes re-warming the pan helps, but it’s truly best to get in the habit of cleaning your pans while they are still warm.
If you have stubborn stuck-on foods or gristle, a little coarse salt or mild soap may be used. After washing, rinse and dry cast iron pieces thoroughly. Always dry cast iron immediately and do not allow to air dry as it may cause the pan to rust.
Additional Tenants of Cast Iron Care Cookware
DON’T use steel wool, metal scouring pads or pan scrapers. They will rub through the seasoned coating and may scratch the surface of the pan.
DO use a plastic scouring pad if rust appears to gently remove the rust. After the rust is removed, re-season the pan.
DO lightly grease pan after washing and drying, prior to storage.
DON’T ever put cast iron pieces in the dish washer. This will remove the seasoned coating and cause the cast iron to rust.
DO use an oven mitt when handling hot cast iron pieces. Cast iron distributes heat and the handles will get super hot! To avoid burns, always protect your hands.
DO invest in handle mitts for cast iron skillets. Handle mitts are little pockets of oven mitt material or silicone that wrap around the handle of your cast iron skillet making it easy to turn or quickly remove the pan from heat.
DO invest in quality cast iron. There are cheaper knock-offs or poorly made pieces on the market. These pieces may cost less, but they are made of thinner material, may have filler materials and will not deliver as good as a result as quality cast iron pieces. They will also not last as long and may break, particularly in the handle area.
Cast Iron Cookware Recipes
Now that you have all the basics of caring for your cast iron down, it’s time to enjoy your lovely cookware! Here’s a few of our favorite recipes to get you started: