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Practical Tips on How to Maintain Your Cast-Iron Cookware

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A family member could have a cast iron skillet decades old that still looks spectacular. Although the fact it’s iron is one reason for durability, it also has to do with care.

Even the best cast-iron cookware can degrade over time if it’s not maintained correctly. Use all these tips to keep your cast iron working perfectly for that next meal.

Picture of well maintained cast iron cookware

A Well-Maintained Cast Iron Cookware Last a Lifetime

101 Cast Iron Maintenance Guide for Cast Iron Fans

Season it More than Once

Seasoning your best cast-iron cookware upon receipt is necessary, but many people forgo the practice after the first layer.

The metal can’t retain this one layer over several years. It’s imperative to season frequently, especially after cooking a meal.

Rinse out the leftover food particles, dry it and add a generous amount of oil. Allow this oil to sit in the pan or pot for a few hours.

You’ll notice the metal absorbs some of this oil into its surface.

Store the oil away, wipe the pan of excess drippings and you have a perfect cooking surface for the next meal.

Use a Bamboo Pot Brush

As you wash the regular dishes, it’s normal to grab a scouring pad to scrub away at stuck food particles.

If you’re seasoning the cast iron correctly, only a few food particles should stick to it.

Never use standard cleaning materials on cast iron, including steel wool pads or plastic brushes. Try a bamboo pot brush instead.

This natural cleaning tool is essentially thin bamboo sections bundled into a cylindrical shape. Use the loose bamboo ends to brush the cast iron clean.

You avoid nicks and scratches to the surface to retain most of the seasoning layer.

Seasoning of old cast ironPicture of perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet

Keep it Dry

Some consumers will complain across numerous cast-iron cookware reviews that their selections are prone to rusting.

Because cast iron is metal, it does have rust issues if it remains wet. Cast iron shouldn’t be stored with any moisture on its surface.

If any liquid remains on the cookware, it should be oil for seasoning. Wipe away any water if it does get splashed.

When cooking food over a slow flame, you may want to cover the lid’s interior with aluminum foil. Even condensate from cooking chicken, for instance, creates a small rust layer on the lid.

Water then drips into the food, adding a slight iron taste. Keep the inside lid covered to avoid any rust issues.

Cover it for Protection

Never stack items inside the cast iron, such as in a cabinet. Even the smallest scrape mars the seasoned layer. Keep skillets and pots covered with their lids to protect the interior.

You may even want to dedicate one cabinet to cast iron alone to avoid any accidental stacking issues. Just one scratch on the surface calls for extensive seasoning.

Even with a refreshed seasoning layer, food may still stick to this area because of the metal imperfection. With the right maintenance, cast iron cooks like brand new cookware even after many years.

When you look through those cast-iron cookware reviews, be sure to note if the metal comes with a seasoning layer. Only certain brands actually come pre-seasoned.

It’s always a good idea to add your own seasoning anyway to maintain the surface throughout its usable lifespan. From scrambled eggs to Chinese dishes, food seems to taste better when cooked in cast iron.

Image credit m kasahara, cbertel and Megan

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