Care During Use
Avoid damage to your cast iron when using by remembering to:
- Avoid dropping or banging your pan on or against hard surfaces or other pans
- Heat a pan on a burner slowly, first on low, then increase to higher settings
- Avoid using metal utensils with sharp edges or corners
- Avoid cooking acidic foods which can compromise your seasoning
- Allow a pan to cool on its own to room temperature before cleaning
Heating a pan to be used on a burner in the oven first is a good way to avoid potentially warping or cracking it.
Maintain your pan's seasoning by using appropriate tools and techniques for post-cook cleaning and storage.
Cleaning After Use
Remember that cast iron "seasoning" has nothing to do with flavoring your food. Therefore, it is not your goal to return your pan to the grossly encrusted state in which you probably found it. Just like your other cooking utensils, you do want to clean your cast iron pans after cooking in them, but in such a manner that the non-stick properties you worked to achieve and wish to maintain are not compromised.
After each use, observe these protocols:
- Allow the pan to cool completely to room temperature on its own
- Wipe out any leftover oil and bits of food
- Rinse the pan under warm running water
- Loosen any stuck-on bits of food with a non-abrasive scouring pad, like a plastic SOS™ Tuffy™
- Avoid dishwashing liquid or other soap until your pan has a very well-established seasoning
- Dry thoroughly with paper towel
- Place cleaned and dry pan on low heat for a minute or two to evaporate any residual moisture
- Wipe warm pan all over with a very small amount of oil, e.g. 1 tsp. canola oil
An alternate scouring method involves mixing some table salt and a small amount of cooking oil to form a slurry, which is then used with a non-abrasive pad to scrub and loosen residue. You may have heard or read elsewhere of using the cut face of half a potato and salt to scrub cast iron. Use the oil, salt, and your scrubber instead of wasting a perfectly good potato.
If there is stuck-on food remaining after cooking that is being particularly stubborn, add some warm water, about ½", to the unheated pan and slowly bring to a simmer. Using a wooden or plastic utensil, scrape away the softened residue. Turn off the heat, and allow the pan to cool before resuming normal cleaning procedure.
Store cleaned and seasoned pans in a dry place. If stacking pans that will nest together, place a layer of paper towel between each. Don't store cast iron pans with their lids in place unless you put something between lid and pan to allow air circulation.
Like any enthusiast, the cast iron collector, in addition to cooking, enjoys being able to have at least some of his/her nicer pieces on display. This can sometimes be a bit tricky, as even a small collection of cast iron can weigh many pounds. Some possibilities include:
· Wall Hanging Hooks
· Overhead Hanging Pot Rack
· Baker's Rack
· Pegboard Wall
· Wire Shelving aka "Metro®" Rack
Any method of display chosen must take safety into consideration. Shelving and racks should be secured to a wall to prevent collapse if climbed upon by curious children. Wall fasteners should be of the heavy duty type. Falling cast iron risks not only injury to whomever might be struck by it, but also damage to the iron itself.