Cast Iron Pan Care and Cleaning

If you are lucky enough to have inherited, found or purchased an old cast iron pan you will want to know how to take care of it properly so it lasts for many more years to come.

If you have ever cooked in a well seasoned cast iron pan, you know how well they cook food evenly.  Many people may try using one of these pans and quickly give up when their food sticks horribly to the surface, or even worse yet, the pan starts to rust and they don’t know how to fix it.

Let’s start with the basics.  

First Rule for a new pan: it needs to be “seasoned” before you use it. (Seasoned means there is some amount of oil that has been baked into the pan.)  Rinse off the pan with hot water and dry completely with a tea towel (no lint towel).  You can also place the pan on the stove top and allow the heat to evaporate all of the extra water. If you choose the stove top method, you will need to let the pan cool completely before proceeding.

Once the pan is dry, rub the entire surface with cooking oil (the whole thing, inside and out, the handle, the WHOLE pan).

Place the oiled pan on a baking sheet into a hot oven (400°F).  Bake for 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the pan.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Do not rinse the pan before storing.  Allow the oil to continue to soak into the metal.

Second Rule: DO NOT USE dish soap on this pan.  EVER.   Using soap on the pan will remove the “seasoning” from the pan, which will make food stick to the pan.  Instead use a clean (no soap) whisk brush to remove any food particles from cooking.  If you have stubborn food, boiling water in the pan on the stove usually helps to lift those stubborn food particles.

Third Rule: Don’t allow water to sit in the pan.  Once you clean it, dry it completely with either a towel or on top of the stove.

Forth Rule: Oil it.  It usually takes numerous oilings before the pan becomes “non-stick”.  After cleaning and drying the pan, rub a small amount of oil in the inside of the pan with a clean paper towel (you don’t want a puddle of oil left in the pan, so just a tiny bit of oil will do)

Fifth Rule: Cherish it, protect it.  Once one of these pans is seasoned it could easily become your favorite pan to cook with.  It could easily last your lifetime if properly cared for.

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