Maintenance on cast iron:

Luckily, your new state-shaped pan is already seasoned, so you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll with your first dish right away, directly out of the packaging.

Cast iron, however, is a living member to your cookware arsenal. It periodically needs a little maintenance to help keep its non-stick, well-seasoned properties in good working condition so that it will out-live all of us, plus a few generations.

With a little ritualistic care, the nonstick properties of your pan will get better over time and use. Here’s what your maintenance routine should look like after each use of your cast iron skillet:

Time : 4 minutes, (really!)

1) WIPE IT OUT.  Wipe the excess oil & food particles out with a paper towel.

2) WASH IT UP.  Hand rinse the inside with warm water only, and a cloth.

3) DRY IT OFF. Towel dry and put over heat for a minute or two.

4) OIL IT ON. Drizzle a teeny-bit of oil into the pan, spread it everywhere with a paper towel leaving only a very thin film of oil. It will feel like you’re taking the oil off of the pan again.

5) BURN IT IN.  Allow the oil to reach its smoke point over a burner or hot plate for another minute or two- make sure you turn on your kitchen fan, open a window or get whatever ventilation you can.

6) COOL IT DOWN.  Turn off the heat and allow the pan to naturally cool down slowly.

The 4 Cast Iron Commandments :

Stick to these simple rules, and your food won’t stick to your pan .

  1. Never put your cast iron in the dishwasher. Even if you have a major clean-up job to perform from burned food in the pan. A quick wipe-around and hand washing’ is all that your pan technically needs. But if you’re uncomfortable not using soap, you can squeeze just a wee-bit of soapy water from a towel into the pan. Just make sure to dry it immediately thereafter & give it a little oil for good measure to keep it from developing rust.
  2. Never put your cast iron in the microwave. Cast iron is fit for any induction, gas, electric and ceramic cook tops. It’s especially great for the oven, grill and camp fire. Anything metal in the microwave is a lightning storm waiting to happen- not good!
  3. Avoid metal scrubby pads: This abrasive approach to cleaning should only be used if you intend to re-season your pan right away. The seasoning on your cast iron pan can scratch off with some effort, so be aware that this method of cleaning is only recommended for total refinishing, such as with old neglected cookware or if something was left to burn in drastically on the surface of your pan. Even still, try the trick above for heavily soiled pans before you get too serious with the metal scrubby.
  4. Beware Thermal Shock: A little known fact about cast iron is that it can actually warp or even crack if put under conditions of being “quenched” or cooled too rapidly. Cast iron is best kept when it can heat and cool slowly and evenly. So just be careful about putting a ripping hot pan onto something cold or wet, such as a boulder or tree stump if you’re outside, or directly into the wash-bin before it has a chance to naturally cool slowly.
  5. For really tough jobs, try this: Fill the pan with water, bring to a boil, let it cool enough to touch and try to scrape off the loosed / softened crud with a plastic scrape tool or soft scrub pad to get it clean. If most of you seasoning is still there, follow the Care and Maintenance routine above. If you can see bare grey metal, you will need to re-season the pan again.