You’ve just bought your new cast iron pan. Ideas are running through your head of what to cook first – cornbread, steak, or maybe bacon and eggs. First, there’s a little preparation needed before you can become a Cast Iron Master Chef.
You have to season the pan.
“Seasoning” a cast iron pan is the process that makes the whole non-stick aspect of cast iron work. By coating the pan in oil and heating it at high heat, the oil binds to the cast-iron to create the non-stick cooking surface. It’s not a hard process, but there are certain ways to do it to create the best seasoning that will last. Here’s our method:
- Wash your cast iron pan using hot water and soap using a sponge or soft rag. Never use steel wool on your cast iron pan – it can erode the surface.
- Dry thoroughly with a soft rag or paper towel.
- Place the dry cast iron pan in the oven and set it to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven has reached temperature, take the warm pan out and place it on the stove.
- Take a Premium Cast Iron Oil, lard or Crispys and pour a small amount into the pan, no bigger than the size of a quarter.
- Using a paper towel or soft rag, spread the oil all over the pan, inside and outside.
- Wipe away all of the oil. The pan should not look shiny from the oil when you’re done. There will still be oil on the pan even if it looks like you’ve wiped it all away. Over-oiling your pan can cause uneven seasoning.
- Place the pan back in the oven, this time upside-down, on the top or middle rack. Place foil or a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch oil drippings.
- Turn the oven up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it reaches temperature, set an alarm for one hour.
- After an hour, turn the oven off and place the pan on the stove. Leave it until it has completely cooled, about an hour.
10.Repeat steps 3-9 at least two more times before cooking with your cast iron pan for the first time to build a solid layer of seasoning. If pressed for time, you don’t have to wait until the pan is completely cool before starting the process again, just let it get cool enough where you can touch it. For best results, however, take the extra time and let it cool all the before starting again.
Cleaning Your Cast Iron
There are just 6 simple steps to keeping your cast iron looking like new:
1. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Mild dish soap is ok to use if you want, but it’s not required.
- Use a plastic scraper to gently lift off any large burn or food.
- While rinsing, rub chainmail on the inside and outside to break up any debris.
*Note – NEVER use steel wool on your cast iron for regular cleaning – it will deteriorate your seasoning.
4. Dry thoroughly – this is the most important part! Moisture left on a cast iron pan will lead it to rust. Use a paper towel or rag to dry as much as possible, then leave the pan on a low burner to get rid of any remaining moisture. The more humid the climate you live in, the more it will rust if any moisture remains.
Please – never put your cast iron in the dishwasher. Always use as little water as possible.
5. Give it another rub in oil like you did while seasoning. Rub the oil on, then wipe it all off. A thin layer of oil will remain and help prevent rust and maintain your seasoning. The more you use your cast iron, the better it is to oil it frequently. Just a few drops at a time is all you need.
6. Store it in a cool, dry place, away from moisture.
Cleaning with Chainmail? Brushes? Scrapers?
Cast iron can be tricky to clean thoroughly. You want to scrub enough so there’s no charred pieces of food left behind, but not so much you get rid of your seasoning. There are multiple tools that clean different types of debris from cast iron. Chainmail is the best tool for cleaning cast iron with visible food scraps because it can efficiently remove debris. It’s round metal edges won’t harm the pan and the chainmail itself is far easier to clean than a sponge. Sponges are breeding grounds for millions of bacteria while a chainmail scrubber rinses clean with hot water and can also be fully sanitized in the dishwasher.
Best of all, it will last forever!
If you find you only need a more gentle cleaning an all natural wood scrubbing brush is the perfect tool to get your cast iron back to normal. The ergonomic shape of the brush and handle fit to clean any size or shape cast iron pan. It’s has no finish, so take care to dry it after use.