Whether you are a novice home cook or an experienced gourmet chef, cast iron cookware is a must have for creating perfect cuisine. However, one of the biggest turnoffs for many is the added care that cast iron requires versus standard non-stick varieties. Luckily, the steps for cleaning cast iron cookware are not as difficult as most would imagine them to be.
Gathering Supplies and Accessing the Problem
In order to clean cast iron cookware, you will want to access the problem that it faces. If there is stuck on food pieces, you will want to use a food based abrasive (such as sea salt) or a non-wire dish brush. A mild dish soap can help remove excessive grease from the cookware, but in order to keep the pan seasoned it should not be used during every cleaning. Clean, cool water for rinsing and a soft cloth should also be gathered.
The Cleaning Process
Gently scrub away any stuck on food stains with the food based abrasive or a non-wire dish brush. Apply a bit of mild dish soap to the cookware and rinse with clean, cool water. It is important to keep some amount of oil or grease on the pan, as this lends to the non-stick surface essential in cooking with cast iron. Do not use dish soap each time you clean the cookware, but alternate between simply rinsing and using detergent on the pan.
The Drying Process
To dry cast iron cookware, select a soft cloth that you intend on using only for cleaning this type of pan. Seasoned cookware can leave a residue or black marks on the drying cloth, rendering it unsuitable for use in other cleaning scenarios. Make sure all moisture is off the cookware in order to keep it from rusting.
Regular Maintenance and Seasoning
Every so often, you will want to season your cast iron cookware to keep it conditioned. While many retailers often try to sell you special chemicals to do this, you need not spend a ton of money in order to accomplish this task. Simply apply a bit of vegetable or olive oil to the surface of the cookware. Place in a 350 degree oven for an hour.
Additional Tips and Warnings
Whatever method you choose, the most important thing to remember about cleaning cast iron cookware is not to allow it to soak in water. Also, never attempt to boil water in a cast iron skillet. Unlike other types of cookware, cast iron is made of solid metal that can rust if left wet. This is the easiest way to ruin an investment into a set of pans and should absolutely be avoided.