Caring for cast iron pans is as easy as 1 - 2 - 3

It only takes proper care of cast iron cookware to make it last for generations.

With proper care cast iron cookware can withstand a lifetime of use. Actually several lifetimes as these cast iron pans and dutch ovens are often passed down from generation to generation. Taking care of cast iron cookware is as easy as 1 – 2 – 3.

  1. Rinse your warm, but not hot, cast iron pan in an empty sink under hot running water using a clean cloth or brush to remove any traces of food. If there are stuck on or burned on foods, use coarse salt as an abrasive.
  2. Dry the pan with paper towels and let it sit until it is bone dry (if it is already well seasoned) or you can place the pan on a heated burner for just a minute to dry it.
  3. After it is dry, very lightly oil the inside of the pan using a paper towel. Use any food grade oil that you prefer. Rub well to rub the oil into the pan. It should have a beautiful sheen but not be greasy. If you leave too much oil in the pan it will become rancid. 

You may wonder if your cast iron pans and dutch ovens are clean enough by just running them under very hot water and using a brush to clean them. Remember it will get blazing hot in the five minutes that you will preheat it before using it. This high heat this will kill any harmful microorganisms. If you really feel you must, you can briefly wash cast iron pans in water that has a very small amount of dish detergent and then rinse and dry them thoroughly. This is not the most acceptable method since the soap disintegrates the seasoning on the pans. 

After cleaning and drying your cast iron pans and dutch ovens place a couple of paper towels inside the pans to absorb any moisture that might form while they are stored in your cupboard. Store your cast iron cookware with the lids off especially in humid weather. When cast iron is covered moisture can build up and rust the pans. If that should happen they can be easily seasoned

Michigan State University Extension offers two dos and three don’ts when using cast iron pans and dutch ovens:

  • Do heat pan slowly to desired temperature instead of placing a cold pan on high heat
  • Do put room temperature foods into a heated pan rather than cold food straight from fridge.
  • Do not store leftovers in cast iron cookware. Food and moisture will deteriorate the seasoned surface and cause it to rust.
  • Never put cast iron pans in the dishwasher or let them soak in a sink of water.
  • Never put cold liquid into a very hot cast iron pan. The pan could easily crack or warp. 

Use your cast iron pans often because the more you use them and properly care for them the better seasoned they become. If you take good care of your cast iron pans they can be passed down and enjoyed by future generations.

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