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Cast Iron care.

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Not talking enamel, but bare cast iron. I was looking at getting a dutch oven, and wondered about caring for it. I watched mother care for her cast iron this way:
1) Wipe with a paper towel only when possible.
2) Clean with brush/hot water and even a bit of soap and make sure its thoroughly dry. As long as it's dry, it won't rust. No oil, but paper towel separator.

Looking at Wikipedia, I came across these instructions and diverse opinions:

Dutch Ovens
After use Dutch ovens are typically cleaned like other cast iron cookware: with boiling water and a brush, and no or minimal soap. After the oven has been dried, it should be given a thin coating of cooking oil to prevent rusting. Whether that should be a vegetable fat or an animal fat (such as lard) is hotly contested. Saturated fats are more stable than polyunsaturated fats, which tend to go rancid more quickly.

Where possible, a cleaned and freshly oiled Dutch oven should be stored in a clean, dry location with the lid ajar or off to promote air circulation and to avoid the smell and taste of rancid oil. If the Dutch oven must be stored with the lid on, a paper towel or piece of newspaper should be placed inside the oven to absorb any moisture.

Cast Iron Cookware
Because ordinary cookware cleaning techniques like scouring or washing in a dishwasher can remove or damage the seasoning on a bare cast iron pan, these pans should not be cleaned like most other cookware. Some cast iron aficionados advocate never cleaning cast iron pans at all, simply wiping them out after use, or washing them with hot water and a stiff brush.[8] Others advocate washing with mild soap and water, and then re-applying a thin layer of fat or oil.[9] A third approach is to scrub with coarse salt and a paper towel or clean rag

Because it will be home use only, I really am not sure how often I will end up using this cookware. It could gather dust! My mother didn't use oil on hers.......what do you think? Which approach do you recommend?
post #2 of 10

For a Dutch Oven I find the seasoning to be less important than with a skillet.  I use your mother's method except instead of paper towel separators I use paper plates -- to keep the cast off of the shelf/drawer bottom and between pieces when stacked.

post #3 of 10

I have a cast iron skillet and I treat it like my wok.  Oil, Oil, Oil.  2 reasons food taste better in these kinds of kitchen utensils is because of the seasoning the pan takes on through use.  To wash cast iron with soap or to let sit in water for an extended period of time is to eliminate the history of that good food that the pan has been treated to.  A good cast iron pan can be used all the time and has many uses.  If you keep it cleaned and oiled. You can use this to cook eggs.  Properly sealed, it becomes a natural non stick surface.  I think you mentioned you didn't know how long it would sit?  Sorry if I'm wrong about that, but If you don't have a clear reason for buying it, maybe you should put your dollars elsewhere? 

post #4 of 10

I bet once you get started using it, the dutch oven will get frequent use.  They are nice to have, both bare and enameled.



Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I've used my mother's cast iron frying pans........wonderful for homemade biscuits! ....mmmm....

I have a feeling that it would get used.....just not sure how often.

Thanks for the input!!
post #6 of 10

As a child, growing up, cast iron as about the only skillet used in our house.  Sure we had others, but they rarely saw use, usually only when our 2 or 3 cast iron skillets were already in use and we needed another one.  Even today with all the various skillets I own, the one that gets the most use is my cast iron.  I think once you get started cooking with it, it will become your skillet of choice; "naturally" non stick, even heat distribution and the ability to really hold heat, what's not to love.

post #7 of 10

I use cast iron cookware often, and I have never had a problem with it rusting once it is properly seasoned.  Mine gets stacked one on top or the other without the benefit of something separating the pieces.   I've not seen any degradation due to one skillet scraping against another.


The best care for cast iron is use.  Mine generally just gets wiped down with paper towels unless something has stuck, in which case it gets scraped off with my all purpose scraper, a broken off spatula.  I do not use soap, but water used as lubricant for the scraper is acceptable.

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Seasoning cast iron: As I mentioned above, my mother doesn't use regularly, but I don't know if she 'seasoned' the pan with oil in the beginning. I found a very interesting article on cast iron seasoning here:

post #9 of 10

I use cast iron pans many times a week the youngest pan in my collection is around 60 years old (lodge).  I clean them with some water and a paper towel.  When more is needed I heat the pan add a little water and then scrub with salt or a stainless steel scrubee if necessary.  I always dry the pan with a towel then heat, in the winter I use my wood stove.  When the seasoning starts to look thin I heat the pan pour in some canola and wipe with a paper towel and leave on heat for awhile (I love the wood stove for this). To season a new pan or an old one that needs it I heat the pan til pretty hot pour in some canola, use a brush to cover the entire interior.  I then wipe out any excess and put it in the oven upside down at 350 for several hours.

post #10 of 10

Your cast iron pan should stay in great shape with minimal care.  Try to always avoid water.  I know the wikipedia articles say use water and sometimes soap, but this will start to take off the seasoning of the pan and promote rusting.  For heavy soiled items that really need some scouring use kosher salt as a scouring agent with a sponge or paper towel.  Also you can layer salt in the bottom of the pan and then turn it on high heat for 15 minutes and it should bake off any grime on the bottom of the pan, the salt will not burn.  After it is clean with salt, rub a small amount of oil on a paper towel and rub it down.  With that process you should have a great pan for years.


If all else fails and you happen to wash it with soap and water, let it dry, or you can put it on heat to dry it out.  Rub a little oil on the pan and bake it in a 400 degree oven for two hours.  This will re season the pan.


Hope it helps.  Take care!


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