So you just bought yourself a new cast iron cookware set. Welcome to the winner’s club. The coveted cast iron is a trusty companion to home chefs everywhere, primarily because they hold heat incredibly well. Its strength and versatility are virtually unmatched. From pots to skillets to griddles, this heavy-duty kitchen equipment will last you a lifetime, if properly cared for.
Here are a couple of tips to help you get the most out of your cast iron cookware.
The Basic Breakdown
It’s no wonder that cast iron can be seen passed down for generations! They are very durable and can become the workhorse of your kitchen. You’ll want to grab your cast iron pan for just about anything.
Cast iron cookware has very high volumetric heat capacity, meaning that once it gets hot, it stays hot, which eliminates sudden temperature spikes. Pro Tip: the best way to evenly pre-heat a cast iron pan is to put it in the oven.
The more you use your cast-iron, the better it performs. Every time you cook with it, you’re adding new molecules of polymerized oils to help coat the inside. Over time, your cast-iron will darken and grow shinier.
Our Pick: Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Lodge is a powerhouse in the cast iron cookware arena. Their 6-Quart Dutch Oven has a chip-resistant porcelain-enamel finish that comes in a variety of colors, and the cover top traps in heat, moisture, and nutrients as the food cooks. Broil, braise and bake your favorite dishes in the oven up to 500 degrees, and the convenient side handles make for easy transport to the table for serving.
Season your Skillet
Skip the salt and pepper. Seasoning, in this sense, is the process that occurs when multiple layers of oil bake into the pan. This step is the key to making your pan nonstick: if you don’t want to fear scrambling eggs and using cheese in your cast iron pans, you must season well and season often!
Apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the entire pan, then place it upside down in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. After one hour, turn off the oven and let the pan cool inside.
Re-season your cast iron griddle when food begins to stick or the once shiny black color starts to turn dull.
Our Pick: Cast Iron Skillet
Skillets can be used for frying, searing, sautéing, and just about any other cooking technique you can think of! Utopia’s Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet endures a factory pre-seasoning, wherein soy-based oils are heated on the surface, allowing the polymers to create an initial layer of seasoning. (This factory seasoned layer is equal to 10-15 rounds of normal home seasoning!)
For continued cleaning, you can wash the cast iron cookware, but go light on the soap – or if you can stomach the idea, don’t use soap at all. Once you season the pots or pans you want to maintain those oils and using detergent will strip that away. Do not put it in the dishwasher and avoid soaking. Make sure to dry it completely before storing away, as leftover water can lead to rusting.
Sometimes you can even get away with just wiping out the inside with a paper towel while the skillet is still warm, no water necessary.
Cast iron cookware are like gentle giants: they’re big and heavy, but require delicate care. Check out these handy accessories you’ll need to keep all your cast iron equipment performing as good as new.
Our Pick: Cast Iron Brush
A brush, like the Tenacious C Cast Iron Brush and Scraper has a wide head with reinforced bristles that effectively scrubs off caked-on grit, without disturbing your seasoning. If preferred, sprinkle with a bit of baking soda, and scrub gently. The baking soda neutralizes any flavors and odors from what you’ve just cooked and has anti-bacterial properties.