Cast Iron Cookware Care done properly can help your investment in cast iron cookware last a lifetime and even longer. You could pass cast iron down not only to your children, but to one of your grandchildren, and it could still be in fine shape, as long as it has been well cared for.
Better still, you can use your cast iron cookware to cook outside in an emergency or if you want to get off the grid. Here are a few tips to keep your cookware in tip top shape.
Some cast iron cookware comes pre-seasoned and will not need any further initial care. However, other cast iron will require some initial cast iron cookware care to give them a nonstick surface.
Also, all cast iron cookware will need to be Re-seasoned from time to time, especially if food is starting to stick to your skillet or your cookware is showing signs of rust.
The first step in proper cast iron cookware care is to give your pan a good scrubbing with a scouring pad and hot water.
The hotter the water and the warmer your pan, the easier it will be to clean your cookware. Immediately dry your pan with a paper towel or dish towel to keep it from rusting.
Heat your oven to between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Then coat your cookware with either bacon grease or lard. It needs to be one of those two, because liquid vegetable oil won't work. Instead, you'll just end up with a sticky surface. So purchase a pound of lard from the store for proper care.
Once your cookware is coated with grease, put it in the oven and let it bake for fifteen minutes. Then remove the pan and pour out the excess grease. Put your pan back in the oven and let it bake for an additional two hours. If you want the nonstick bond on your pan to be even stronger, then repeat this process several times.
The first few times you use your newly seasoned pan, cook bacon and other foods high in fat to strengthen the seasoning. Or you can cook foods with fat.
Remember that you will occasionally need to re-season your pan to help it retain its nonstick properties and keep it from rusting.
Although cast iron is one of the toughest cookwares out there, it still needs some special cast iron cookware care. Clean your cookware soon after using it by rinsing it with hot water and scraping off food when necessary. Don't use a scouring pad or soap and this will break down the pan's seasoning. A plastic scraper works great.
Also, never store food in your cookware. The food's acid will wear down the seasoning and your food will get a metallic taste.
When storing your cookware, leave the lids off. Leaving the lids on could build up inner moisture, especially when the weather is humid, and cause rust. If your pans do start to show rust, re-season them.
And don't throw it away. New cast iron cookware is medium gray in color, but darkens with proper care and use. A well-loved and well-used cast iron skillet will be black and just as good as when you bought it.