Caring for Cast Iron – Making it Last Forever

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Cast Iron

 

Caring for Cast Iron

Cast Iron pans are an amazing asset in the kitchen.  They last forever and distribute heat exceptionally well, even when using a large pan on a small burner.  Cast Iron is also amazing when camping, as you can set pieces such as a Dutch oven directly in the coals for a wonderful baking experience.  One of the questions I get most often when camping with my Cast Iron is about how I take care of it.  People think that Cast Iron is hard to take care of, but I find it just the opposite.  It’s rugged, heavy duty, and super easy to take care of with just a few simple rules.

Seasoning Cast Iron

Whether you buy your Cast Iron new or used, the first thing you want to do is get it seasoned.  This process is very simple and will keep your Cast Iron in great shape for years to come.  All you need to do is wash and dry your Cast Iron.  I dry mine by placing it on the stove on low for a few minutes to make sure it’s really, really dry.  Coat the pans inside and out with melted plain Crisco shortening.  You can use vegetable oil as well, but I’ve found Crisco works best.  Place the pans in a 400°F oven, upside down, with a baking sheet on the rack below and bake for an hour.  Turn the oven off and allow it to cool to room temperature.  No matter if that pan was rusty or brand new, you’ll have a beautiful non-stick surface to work with in your Cast Iron.  Repeat this process about once a year or when the seasoning seems to be wearing off.

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Washing Cast Iron

A little care must be taken when washing Cast Iron.  You never want to use harsh scrubbies or abrasives in your seasoned Cast Iron, nor do you want to leave water in it as it will rust.  Wash the pans out with minimal soap when the pan is cool enough to touch.  The pans will clean up easily and quickly.  Once they are clean, place them back on the stove or in the oven to completely dry.  When I store my Cast Iron, I usually place a paper towel between the different pans when I stack them, especially when I’m taking the set camping.  It keeps the finish beautiful, and prevents scratching should things slide against each other.

Buying Cast Iron

Now that you know how to take care of Cast Iron, where do you buy it?  There are two places I love to buy Cast Iron.  Second hand sources, such as garage sales, Goodwill, even auctions are great places to find used Cast Iron.  Look for pieces that don’t have too much rust, and any rust is just on the surface, not flaking off in chunks.  The second place I love to buy Cast Iron is family run hardware stores.  They always seem to have great prices and interesting pieces that I might not be able to find elsewhere.  Make sure to get a variety of pieces in your favorite pan styles so you have everything you need.  Cast Iron will be the last set of pans you ever need to buy.

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