I have a love hate relationship with cast iron pots and pans. Love because they last a lifetime, hate because they cost a fortune.
The challenge most people face is how to clean and store their cast iron cookware. It’s a labour of love but to be honest, it’s not a great deal of work. All you have to keep in mind is these 4 simple rules…..
1. Do not use soap
2. Do not use abrasive material to clean your pan
3. Keep it dry
4. Keep it protected.
The no soap rule is critical. Actually the only time you should wash your pan with soap is the first time you buy it. You can wash it with a gentle dishwashing liquid, a sponge and hot water. That’s it.
Next is what we call the seasoning. Once your pan is clean, you can put it on the stove or in the oven to heat up and completely dry out the water. You may notice a few rust spots if your pan is old but that’s no reason to panic.
Once the pan is dry, add a thin layer of oil on the pan or pot and let it heat up on a medium heat until smoking point, then take it off the fire. When its cooled enough to handle, use a paper towel to rub the oil all over the pan, inside and out, to protect it. Rub a little more if needed and put on the heat again until the pan is hot and then drain any excess oil.
NB: The best oil to use is either olive oil, canola oil or lard (avoid vegetable oil because it tends to feel sticky later on)
The reason you need to do this is that the heated oil creates a protective layer that is ‘non-stick’. The more you do this, the less food will stick to your pan.
Oh and the reason food normally sticks to the skillet is because of putting cold food in a cold pan and letting it heat up. No guys, just, no. bring the food to room temperature especially meats and fish, then put them into the pan when it’s hot. Trust me on this.
After cooking in your skillet, don’t wait for it to cool completely. If you have oven gloves to handle it, then that’s best. Once you’re done with your cooking, pour hot water into the pan and let it settle for a few minutes to loosen up any food residue.
Warning: Do not use cold water on a hot cast iron pan. I can break!!
If the food still sticks, sprinkle some coarse salt into the pan and use a sponge or scouring pad to gently remove the stuck food. Rinse again with hot water and then repeat the seasoning process as mentioned above.
Following these rules will ensure that your cast iron pan or cookware is always in top condition and lasts for ages.