How to Maintain the Durability of Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron cookware is among the most durable of all the pots and pans found in the kitchen. Durability is not a naturally occurring element, however, in the world of extreme heat, water, soap and food. To make your cast iron cookware durable enough to continue providing delicious meals for as long as possible, you have to be at least a little proactive. Some easy but regular maintenance is all that is required to allow you to use the cast iron pots and pans you already own for years to come.

Oven Dry

Moisture is the great enemy of cast iron cookware. Allowing moisture to go unaddressed is one of the best ways to ensure that your cast iron does not last as long as possible. You need to wash it clean, of course, so hand wash with regular dishwashing soap and water. Drying with a towel is only half the process, however. Set your oven to a low heat and then place the cast iron cookware inside. Give the oven about ten minutes to completely dry any remaining moisture and then store.

Storage

If your storage space is most efficiently utilized by stacking cast iron cookware on top of each other, you can beat the deteriorating effects of moisture by placing towels between each pot and pan. Keeping the iron surfaces from touching each other is an effective way to combat moisture during storage. Towels will also prevent rusting.

Prevent Sticking

You can prevent food from sticking to your cast iron pans by first sprinkling some salt over the cooking surface. Use a cloth to wipe the surface clean of the salt. Not only will doing this keep food from sticking when you are frying, it is a good way to give you pan a second cleaning just before use.

Seasoning

If the food you cook in a cast iron pot or pan is beginning to take on a metallic flavor, you need to give the cookware a seasoning. This should always be done before the first time you use a brand new piece of cast iron cookware. Start with a good scrubbing that thoroughly cleans away any food particles, dry and wipe down with cooking oil. Turn your oven on to a warm setting and leave for about two hours. When you remove the cookware, wipe away any excess oil. Repeat this process whenever your food starts to taste like iron.

Exterior Cleaning

One of the negative things about using cast iron cookware is that over time you will start to notice a crud-like crust building up on the exterior. Leaving this unattended isn’t dangerous, but it will begin to affect how evenly your cookware distributes heat. You can try using a Brillo pad and water and given enough time and effort you will be successful in removing the crud. A much more efficient method is to buy some commercial oven cleaner and cover the entire outside of the pot or pan with a thin layer. Allow the cleaner to work its magic about about an hour–or longer depending on the amount of crud–and then wipe away with a solution of water and vinegar.

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