THIS IS THE LAST GUIDE YOU’LL NEED TO CARE FOR YOUR CAST IRON PANS
- HOW TO CURE A CAST IRON PAN
- LEARN HOW TO PURCHASE NEW CAST IRON PANS
- CLEAN AND CARE FOR YOUR CAST IRON PANS
- PROPERLY STORE YOUR CAST IRON
So you don’t forget all the info stuffed into this post, I’ve included a FREE PRINTABLE PDF.
Purchasing, Curing & Maintenance of Cast Iron Pans can be downloaded by clicking the image AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.
HOW TO PURCHASE, CURE AND MAINTAIN A CAST IRON PAN
Cast iron, a gal’s best friend, or conversely, her worst enemy. Old wive’s tales abound about how to care for your cast iron pans. And, everybody has an opinion. Including the guy standing next to you in Target while you’re deciding which pan you want to buy.
THE OLD MAN AND THE PAN STORY
I’ve owned Blackie for some time now, but I do have a little experience in the matter. As I recall, I was standing in front of the cast iron display. I was trying to decide whether I wanted to have a grill pan with ridges or not.
Then an elderly man walked up to me and stopped nearby. He looked me in the eyes, and this is what he said. If I was going to buy a pan, I’d better “treat it right” or it would be a waste of my money.
Perplexed, I asked the gentleman what he meant by “treat it right”. He proceeded to give a protracted explanation of what turned out to be “seasoning” the pan.
Who refers to this process as “treating it right”? Probably his mother! He had to have been at least 75 years old or so. I’m figuring he heard his mother say that more than once over the years.
I couldn’t help but chuckle the whole way home. Remembering me telling him, with the best poker-face I could muster, that I would indeed “treat my pan right”.
I thanked him for being so helpful. I just might have made that old man’s day. He certainly made mine.
I NAME EVERYTHING, EVEN MY CAST IRON PAN, JUST ASK H.H.
I used Blackie to prepare and serve the Flaming Saganaki Cheese for my Greek Dinner Party, which I include as one of the theme parties under the Entertainment tab on the main menu.
The Greek Dinner Party group of posts include all these components:
- Individual guest menus and place cards
- Polymer clay Greek knot napkin-ring craft project
- Take-home favor
- And, of course, the menu and all the recipes.
See what you’re missing if you’re not a member of the Ingredients For A Fabulous Life community? As you will see if you visit the party’s appetizer post, I did indeed choose a grill pan.
Now that I’ve hopefully made you smile, on to the dirty business of purchasing, seasoning, cleaning and maintaining your cast iron pans. So many people have asked me the care and maintenance of cast iron pans, that I thought I’d better put together some guidelines.
HOW TO PURCHASE A CAST IRON PAN
The first thing you need to understand about cooking with cast iron is that it is not a good conductor of heat. What, you say? Is another old wive’s tale creeping into your consciousness and saying, “but I thought that was the whole point of using it”! Nope.
The biggest advantage of using cast iron is the weight of the pan itself. Because cast iron heats up slowly, that means it also cools down slowly. This allows it to maintain very high temperatures for extended periods of time, making it the ideal cooking vessel for searing and frying all types of foods.
While camping when our boys were young, I often used a cast iron skillet over a campfire, they are practically indestructible!
Conversely, it’s also my go-to pan for frying chicken at an even temperature or simmering a “two-person” batch of chili. Now that we’re empty-nesters, cooking for two is still something I’m learning… I’m trying, I swear!
Now, how to choose which pan is right for you!
- Size and shape of pan – HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU NORMALLY COOK FOR?
- How often will you use it? – CHOOSE A HEAVIER PAN TO WITHSTAND CONSTANT USE
- Do you want to purchase a factory “pre-seasoned” pan? – JURY IS STILL OUT ON IF THEY ARE BETTER
- Do you have an induction cooktop? – YOU’LL NEED TO BUY A SPECIALLY DESIGNED PAN
- Will you want to put it in the oven? – DON’T PURCHASE ONE THAT HAS ANY OTHER MATERIAL
- Will you want an enamel coated pan? – COATING GIVES EXTRA PROTECTION & IT’S PRETTY!
- Hold the pan, is the handle the right length, angle and comfortable?
- Choose a pan that is the right weight for you to lift, if it’s too heavy, it will be unwieldy to use
HOW TO CURE A CAST IRON PAN
The terms “seasoning” and “curing” refer to the process of forming a non-stick coating on the pan from oil seeping into the surface of the cast iron, thereby helping to eliminate the microscopic roughness inherent to the manufacturing process.
The whole point of “curing” is to give your cast iron pan a permanent non-stick surface, just like your non-stick pans.
Now, when I say permanent, it refers to the continuing process of making sure you re-cure your pan if it begins to let food stick. If you only use your pan occasionally, it will last years without having to totally re-cure it.
Having said that, if you mistreat your pan, it will no longer be non-stick and it will probably show signs of rust, the dreaded enemy of cast iron! Remember the old man’s sage advice, “treat it right”!
HOW TO CURE A CAST IRON PAN:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
- Wash pan with warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly
- Let air-dry for 20 minutes
- Using a sheet of paper toweling, apply a thin coat of vegetable oil or shortening to all surfaces, inside and out (no other oils, please!)
- Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the lower rack of the oven to catch any drips
- On the center rack of the preheated oven, place the cast iron pan upside down
- Bake the pan for an hour, turn off heat, and leave in the oven for 2 hours
- After a total of three hours has elapsed, open oven door and let pan cool completely before removing
- YOUR CAST IRON PAN IS NOW READY FOR YOU TO LOVE AND USE FOR YEARS TO COME!
HOW TO CLEAN AND STORE CAST IRON PANS
- Never soak your cast iron in water, never, ever, ever… (remember that rust!)
- Don’t use steel wool to clean your pan, it’s too abrasive and can damage the surface
- Do use a nylon scrub brush and cotton washcloth to remove food and grime
- Using a little water to help get it clean is perfectly fine
- Dry the pan thoroughly after cleaning
- IF YOU USED WATER TO CLEAN YOUR PAN – Heat oven to 325 degrees F
- Give your pan a quick, light wiping with a paper towel soaked with a few teaspoons of vegetable oil
- Place the pan in the oven for 60 minutes, turn off oven, open door and let cool completely before removing
- Store in a clean, dry location
PURCHASING, CURING & MAINTENANCE OF CAST IRON PANS PRINTABLE!
You now have all the facts on: How to care for your cast iron pans – How to cure a cast iron pan, AND, How to Clean and Store Cast Iron Pans. That all the information you need to get out there and buy your very first cast iron pan.
Old hands at slinging hash from their beloved cast iron pan understand. We can appreciate how intimidating it can be for a rookie to delve into the world of cast iron! Now you know all there is to know about how to clean and store cast iron pans to boot!
I PUT TOGETHER A HANDY CAST IRON PAN REFERENCE FOR YOU TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT.
TAKE IT TO THE STORE, OR HAVE IT HANDY WHEN ASKING MR. GOOGLE TO FIND YOU A CAST IRON PAN.
Just click the cover image to download and print out to keep handy for easy reference.
I’ve got a special exclusive BONUS FREEBIE for my Ingredients For A Fabulous Life Subscribers in the IFAFL Subscribers Resource Library.
The TOP 10 CAST IRON PANS – 2020, is a curated list of the best cast iron pans out there. I want to help you navigate the huge world of cast iron cookware and find the pan that’s best for you!
Once you find your perfect pan, you’ll know how to cure a cast iron pan, clean and store it properly.
Members of the IFAFL Subscribers Email List receive the password to get into the Library in each email I send to my community.
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