Written by Tenley Haraldson.
Whether used in an oven or over a campfire, cast iron is one of the most versatile cooking tools. And once you know how to deep clean cast iron correctly, it should last for generations.
In order to sear, bake, and fry to your heart's content, discover the best way to clean cast iron skillets and dutch ovens.
5 Reasons Why Is Cast Iron So Great
Cast iron does a great job of absorbing oils and fats (often referred to as "seasoning"). And when it's shiny-looking, it's got a non-stick surface that both enhances the taste of food while preventing rust from forming.
1. You Won't Scratch Them
Though most non-stick pans can’t be used with metal utensils, feel free to use whatever utensils you’d like with cast iron.
2. Cooks More Evenly
Because it heats more evenly, you’re less likely to see “hot spots” (or scorch marks).
3. Heat Resistant
They withstand incredible temperatures and can go from stove tops to ovens to campfires. Because they also retain heat, your pan can keep food warmer long after it's been removed from the heat source.
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4. Virtually Indestructible
Whether you drop, scorch, or scrape them, cast iron pans are virtually indestructible – but you really need to treat them right.
5. Don't Require Regular Washing
Any aficionado would recommend against washing your pans regularly. Most of the time, you can get by with a quick wipe down while it's still warm.
Note: Battling tough food stains? Fill your pan with water and boil it before trying to scrub it again.
How to Season & Reseason Cast Iron
If flavors start to get funky – or you start to notice a dull or rusty surface – it might be time to deep clean your cast iron pan and season it. This will ensure a smoother cooking surface, follow these instructions:
- Softly scrub the pan with some water and a drop of dish soap. A washcloth should work just fine here.
- Rinse and dry your pan with a microfiber cloth, then drop 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or lard into it. Using a paper towel or rag, cover the entire surface (don’t forget the handles and the bottom).
- Turn the pan upside down, place aluminum foil underneath to catch any drips, then bake in a 350ºF (175ºC) oven for one hour.
- If you notice that your pan is feeling rough or sticky, repeat the process.
Note: Some cast iron pans already come seasoned, so check the packaging. If it's pre-seasoned, proceed with cooking up a storm.
How to Remove Rust from Cast Iron Pans
Rusted cast iron can feel like it’s beyond fixing. It's actually simple to clean and reseason it.
- Apply some water, a drop of gentle dish soap, and either a stiff-bristled scrub brush or balled-up aluminum foil.
- Rinse all of the gunk and goop out of the pan.
- Before cooking, season your pan (using the tips above).
5 Ways to Keep Your Cast Iron Pan in Great Shape
Cast iron pans are often passed down families over generations. To ensure a longer lifespan, there are a couple of cardinal rules to follow:
- Never soak cast iron pans in water.
- Clean cast iron skillets after use (preferably while they're still warm).
- Always wipe it dry after cleaning, then add a thin layer of vegetable oil before storing.
- Struggling with sticky food? Simmer some water for 1-2 minutes then try cleaning it.
- Avoid using chemical cleaners. You only need some vegetable oil and the occasional drop of dish soap.
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