Cast Iron: Cooking and Cleaning

adapted slightly from: and

Frying with a Cast Iron Frying Pan

Always preheat your cast iron frying pan before frying in it.

Water droplets on the heated surface should sizzle, then roll and hop around the pan.  If the water droplets disappears immediately, the pan is too hot.  If water only rests and bubbles in the pan, the pan is not quite hot enough.

NOTE:  Do not pour large amounts of cold liquid into your hot cast iron frying pan, as the sudden temperature change may cause the cast iron to break.

Remember to use potholders.  Cast iron pan handles get HOT when cooking.

Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware

Take the cast iron frying pan off the heat and let it cool, but wash it while it is still warm.

Wash it with the hottest tap water you can stand and the least abrasive scrubber necessary.  Steel wool or wire brushes should never be used because they will remove the built-up, cooked-on “seasoning” that makes the pan “non-stick.”  If it really becomes necessary to use soap, go ahead and do it.  The admonishment to never use soap is a holdover from the days when “soap” was a home-made caustic consisting of lye and bear grease.  Modern dishwashing detergents have no relationship to what people meant when they said “soap” a hundred years ago.  Never let soapy water sit in the pan for any length of time.

Rinse thoroughly, then dry with paper towels.  NEVER put cast iron cookware in the dishwasher.

Place the cleaned cast iron frying pan on the stove and heat for a minute or two to make sure that it is bone dry.  While the pan is still hot and on the stove burner, oil the inside of the pan with a light coating of a neutral cooking oil.  Use a paper towel to spread the oil lightly over the pan.  Neutral oils include vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, etc.) or shortening (like Crisco).

Leave the frying pan on the hot burner for a few minutes.  Remove from hot burner and wipe excess oil off the pan with a paper towel.

Store your cast iron cookware with the lids off (especially in humid weather, because if covered, moisture can build up and cause rust).  As an added precaution, place a couple paper towels inside your cast-iron pan when storing to absorb any moisture that forms.  Never store cast iron cookware without drying it thoroughly.

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