How to clean and care for cast iron cookware!
I kept seeing videos of people using fancy cast iron pans. I really wanted to get in on the action, specifically because I didn’t want to use non-stick pans. So, I did a lot of research and I want to share with you my 10 favorite tips on how to get into cooking successfully with cast iron. If you care for them well, you can hand them down and your grandkids
Season the pan – before you start using your pan, you have to season it (if it is not seasoned already). My La Crueset cookware were pre-seasoned, but if yours aren’t, you need to season them. Seasoning essentially makes the pan non-stick and you want to do this to make your cooking easier as well as to preserve the life of your pan. To do it, simply: BLA.
Heating the pan – you need to heat your pan for about 10 minutes before using it, it takes longer to spread the heat around than a stainless steel pan, but it is worth the wait. Because it takes longer, the heat retains better in the pan and spreads evenly. I splash water in the pan and when it evaporates on contact, it’s good to go.
How hot do you go? Even if recipes call for high heat, I never heat this pan over medium on my stove top. If you go to high heat you can warp the base of the pan, which will not allow it to cook evenly. That would be pretty awful, especially if you spent good money on your pan. Because cast iron retains and distributes heat so well, it’s fine to go to medium. If your pan develops an ashy layer as it is heating, you’ve gone too hot and the pan will warp.
Utensils – use wood or silicone utensils specifically designed for high-heat, plastic ones will melt and metal ones can ruin the pan.
Glass stove top – yes, you can use these on glass cooktops, you just have to be careful because they are heavy and if you drop it you can crack your stove top given the weight of the pan. While I’ve never had the pleasure of cooking on a gas stove top, they heat just fine for me on my glass one. Also, be mindful of having a clean bottom of your pan and a clean cooktop, before cooking to avoid stains and marks on the glass surface.
Touching the handle – this may come as a shocker to you, but you need to wear a glove or have a little handle cover when using a cast iron pan, even when stove top cooking. The handle conducts heat too and becomes extremely hot. Don’t experiment with this, take my word for it.
Stove top to oven – this is one of the coolest things about these pans, they can go right into the oven and then to the table, of course with appropriate protection like a trivet and a handle cover. Just don’t place inside the oven over 450 degrees to ensure you don’t overheat the iron and warp the pan. This is super duper cool.
Searing – this is an overwhelming experience for beginners. Make sure your overhead exhaust is on and your windows are open, you’re going to get a lot of smoke. Now I’m not a professional cook by any means, but I do know you are going to get a lot of smoke so just prepare. Heat your pan, to reduce smoking you can use grape seed oil which has a higher smoke point than olive oil and does your bidding. Whatever you are cooking, place into the pan and leave it. If you want to develop that amazing crust on the bottom, you need to leave it for a few moments until that crust is naturally formed. Don’t touch it and avoid temptation. When your food has formed its crust, it will easily slide around, as if it were in a non-stick pan. If it is still sticky and it breaks apart, it hasn’t fully cooked through yet and is not ready to be flipped. Play with this and you’ll learn, that’s what I had to do. When it has popped off the bottom of the pan, at that point, you can flip it over. While you are learning this technique, stand by the pan and just experiment. If you do it right, you can sear a whole fish filet perfectly without it breaking.
Storage – Never, ever, leave or store your pan wet. You can’t soak these overnight. It will rust! Ensure it is always dry and stored in a cool, dry place.
I hope that helps you get started with using cast iron, I simply love mine and once you understand how to properly use and care for them, you will too!
What are your favorite cast iron use and care tips?