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Everything You Need to Know About Cast Iron Cookware Care

17 Mar 2024

Part of the reason why cast-iron cookware are the most cherished in the world of culinary is that it retains heat very well. Which makes it one of the most versatile cookware. From searing steaks to baking cornbread, these trusty kitchen companions have stood the test of time, earning a revered place in both HoReCa kitchens and home cook collections. But to truly appreciate the magic of cast iron, one must understand not only how to use it but also how to care for it. 

The Timeless Appeal of Cast Iron:
Cast iron cookware has been a staple in kitchens for centuries, prized for its durability, heat retention, and versatility. Compared to other cookwares, cast iron is dense and heavy which gives the food a better sear and better colour. Unlike modern non-stick pans, cast iron develops a natural seasoning over time, becoming increasingly non-stick with each use. This seasoning not only enhances the flavour of food but also creates a protective layer that prevents rusting and improves the cookware's longevity. Another timeless feature of cast-iron cookware is that it is super versatile. It can be used on a stovetop, oven and even campfires. You can use it to cook range of different things from hash browns to Dutch baby.

Seasoning Your Cast Iron Before Use:
Now before using new cast iron cookware or restoring an old piece, seasoning is essential. To season cast iron:

  • Clean the Cookware:
    Wash the cast iron cookware with hot, soapy water to remove any manufacturing residues or rust.

  • Dry Thoroughly:
    Completely dry the cookware with a towel to prevent rusting.

  • Apply Oil:
    Using a paper towel, apply a thin layer of cooking oil (such as vegetable oil or flaxseed oil) to the entire surface of the cookware, including the handle and exterior.

  • Bake:
    Place the oiled cookware upside down in an oven preheated to 350°F (180°C) for about an hour. This allows the oil to polymerize, creating a durable, non-stick surface.

  • Repeat:
    For best results, repeat the seasoning process multiple times before using the cookware for cooking.

Using Cast Iron Cookware:
When cooking with cast iron, follow these tips for optimal results:

  • Preheat:
    Always preheat cast iron cookware before adding ingredients. This ensures even cooking and helps prevent food from sticking.

  • Use Medium Heat:
    Cast iron retains heat exceptionally well, so moderate heat is usually sufficient for most cooking tasks. 

  • Use the Right Utensils:
    When cooking with cast iron, use utensils made of wood, silicone, or other soft materials to avoid scratching the seasoning.

  • Oil as Needed:
    While cast iron is naturally non-stick, adding a small amount of oil or fat to the cookware before cooking can further prevent sticking and enhance flavour.

Cleaning and Maintenance:
Proper cleaning and maintenance are essential for preserving the integrity of cast iron cookware. Cast-iron cookware is so durable that they can be passed down to your kids and grandkids. As long as proper care is taken, cast-iron cookware can last forever. Here are some simple tips to maintain its integrity:

  • Hand Wash Only:
    Avoid using soap when cleaning cast iron, as it can strip away the seasoning. Instead, use hot water and a stiff brush to remove food particles.

  • Dry Immediately:
    After washing, thoroughly dry the cookware with a towel to prevent rusting. If necessary, place the cookware on the stove over low heat to ensure it's completely dry.

  • Re-season Regularly:
    Over time, the seasoning on cast iron cookware may wear down. To maintain its non-stick properties, re-season the cookware periodically by applying a thin layer of oil and baking as described earlier.

  • Store Properly:
    Store cast iron cookware in a dry place to prevent rusting. If stacking multiple pieces, place a paper towel or cloth between them to absorb any moisture.

Hope these tips help you keep your cast-iron cookware in great condition for your next cooking adventure. So, dust off that old skillet, embrace the simplicity of cooking with cast iron, and savour the rich flavours and traditions it brings to your kitchen.

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