The secret to keeping these cast iron pans lasting a lifetime is by simply cleaning and seasoning them properly. Knowing how to can save you a lot of money by keeping these in tip-top shape.
How to clean your cast iron pans
1: Despite what you have heard, using soap and water really is okay! Many people have the wrong impression and believe that the oils that build up on the pan during cooking help in seasoning it. However, what they do not realize that the oil can go rancid, hence, ruining food and attracting cockroaches. But that does not mean that it is okay to throw your pan in the dishwasher or soak it in soap and water. This will destroy the polymerized layer that is coating your pans. After you are done with cooking, just quickly wash them and dry it immediately.
2: Clean and dry on the stove! It is completely okay if you are still hesitant about the soap and water technique. What you can do instead is clean your cast iron pan right on your stove. After you are done using the pan, take paper towels and thoroughly pat off all remains from cooking before filling it up with at least half an inch of water, bringing it to a boil. Scrape away any food residue lightly with a plastic spatula and dump the dirty water. Now, you can either pat the pan dry using more paper towels, or set it back on the stove on low heat to dry it quickly.
- Use salt for the stubborn bits! If you find that there are a few stubborn residues still remaining sprinkle kosher salt (or any coarse salt) all over the pan and add just the right amount of water until you see a paste-like consistency. Using the paste, scrub at the tough stains, then rinse and dry immediately.
Due to the salt’s abrasive nature, it is a good idea to re-season your cast iron pan after using the last method.
How to season your cast iron pans
You might wonder why the process of seasoning is so important. Seasoning helps protect the pan by creating a slick, hard layer when the oil oxidizes and bonds with the metal.
Step 1: Take your oven rack and place it at the lowest rung in your oven after lining it with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Step 2: Preheat your oven to 177° C or 350° F.
Step 3: Using vegetable or canola oil, (shortening also works), coat your cast iron pan entirely, both inside and out, leaving not even the handle and lid. Make sure you apply a light layer on top, otherwise, too much might make the surface sticky.
Step 4: By placing the lid and pan upside down in the lined oven rack, bake it for an hour and then turn off the oven let it come to room temperature after that one hour is done. Once it has cooled down, you can store away your pan like usual.
Step 5: You should follow this process to re-season your pan every time you see that the coating on your pan is beginning to dull.