When it comes to caring for our beloved heirlooms, everyone has their own special techniques, passed down from adamant grandmothers. We quizzed Facebook (via our
sister magazine, Taste of the South), and to this day the answers are still rolling in.
We’ve shared a few here, but read below for some basic cast-iron commandments.
Keep it Clean
Be sure to clean your pans as soon as they’re cool enough to handle. Scrub gently to preserve the finish; avoid soaking in water. As to whether or not to use soap—see our thoughts at right. We avoid it when possible.
Keep it Dry
After washing, dry your cast iron pans immediately to ward off rust. Heat on the stove over low heat for approximately 5 minutes (or in the oven). While still warm, rub or brush on a light coating of oil. Let cool completely.
Gritty chemical abrasives can strip the seasoning off your cast-iron pans; kosher salt makes a great natural abrasive. It’s softer than iron but harder than most food particles, allowing you to bear down on stubborn residue without scratching your precious pans.
Go easy when applying oil to your pans for storing and seasoning. Using too much can result in a sticky residue. Use a brush to apply a thin coating of oil, then rub it into the surface with a paper towel or dry kitchen towel to remove excess.
If you have an extra potato, cut off a piece, and use it (cut side down) to scour your skillet with kosher salt. The potato provides just enough moisture so you don’t have to add extra water, which makes your cast iron dry faster.
On the Soapbox
One of the biggest cast-iron cleaning debates is soap versus no soap. While many folks rail against the notion of ever letting a drop of soap touch their skillets, just as many had great-grandmothers who used soap every single day.
We like to think of it this way: Grease is good for cast iron. Soap cuts grease. Therefore, soap isn’t the best thing if your skillet’s seasoning is a work in progress. Our opinion: use it when you have to, sparingly.