There are definite benefits to owning cast iron cookware. A good old fashioned bit of kit – cast iron pots and pans are cheap, versatile and – when properly looked after – last a lifetime.
Naturally non-stick, easy clean-up, beautifully cooked food and health benefits too (it can up your iron intake don’t you know). But cast iron requires loving care. Careful seasoning and cleaning are the order of the day - no quick scrub in the sink will do. But like everything worth having, a bit of elbow grease is a small price to pay.
If you’re in any doubt about how to keep your cast iron in tip top condition, we’ve put together a simple set of instructions.
Seasoning cast iron is an essential. It creates a thin protective layer that not only prevents rusting but it’s what creates its non-stick surface. Cast iron should be re-seasoned every 15-20 uses or whenever you see food beginning to stick to the surface. Here’s how to do it best:
- Wash the cast iron in hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly.
- Pour 1 -2 tablespoons of cooking oil onto the surface of the cast iron and use a piece of kitchen roll to buff the oil across the entire surface. Any excess oil should be wiped out so the cast iron is left with a light coating.
- Place the cast iron into a pre-heated oven at 200°C / Gas Mark 6 for an hour or so.
- Remove the cast iron from the oven and allow to cool naturally. Wipe away any excess oil left behind.
There are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to cleaning your cast iron (a lot of don’ts in fact). Don’t use anything abrasive to clean it; don’t put it in the dishwasher; don’t use soap; don’t use boiling water. It’s enough to put anyone off. But cleaning your cast iron is actually very simple. Here’s what you do:
- Using a wooden spatula, scrape off any residual food from the surface. Alternatively, if the pan is mostly clean, it can be wiped out with a damp cloth.
- If there’s stuck on food, sprinkle a liberal amount of salt onto the surface. Cut a potato in half and use the flat side to scrub the salt into the cast iron. The salt, plus the moisture from the potato, will get rid of any food or rust.
- Use a piece of damp kitchen roll to wipe out the salt from the cast iron and make sure it’s fully dry.
- Re-season with a spoonful of cooking oil and buff in using kitchen roll.
And that’s it – all pretty straightforward (we hope!). Here’s a few extra tips, which may come in handy too.
3 Quick Tips
- Always season new cast iron cookware before using.
- It’s best to use an oil with a high smoke point when seasoning.
- Cast iron can be damaged by acidic ingredients such as tomatoes and wine – avoid leaving these in pans for extended periods e.g. when marinating.
Have you got any cast iron tips to add?