By Cheri Sicard
When we polled our readers about essential items they use most often in their RV kitchens, versatile cast iron came up high on the list, and with good reason. It can go from stovetop to oven, and you can even put it on the campfire. You can use it to sauté, bake, and fry. It’s virtually indestructible, and virtually non-stick when properly seasoned. But cast iron care is where many people fall short or become intimidated by the thought of using cast iron.
The video below from the culinary experts at Epicurious is about to change all that. In it, Chef Frank Proto will show you how to properly care for, clean, season and store your cast iron to keep it looking brand-new.
Follow these tips and your cast iron cookware will not only provide you with a lifetime of great meals, but your kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids will also still be using it.
And here’s a thrifty tip. Even if your cast iron is in bad shape, or if you happen to find a piece at a garage sale or thrift store that might look a little shabby, by following Frank’s steps in the video, you can bring it back to life as good as new!
Let’s explore what’s involved in cast iron care:
Step 1: Remove rust. If any water has gotten on your cast iron it might have rust. No problem, you can remove it. If it is severe, a chainmail scrubber can work, but these can mark the pan. Frank usually prefers a much milder scrub with coarse kosher salt and a kitchen towel. The video shows you how.
Step 2: This is a little controversial, but the pan gets a quick rinse with water and (gasp) dish soap. It’s important to get it clean and all the salt removed before seasoning. (As a side note, I have been cleaning my cast iron with soap for decades with no ill effects.) Rinse and dry well.
Step 3: Seasoning the cast iron. This involves putting some oil in the pan and baking it. This will put a nonstick coating on the pan. You can use oil, but Frank prefers Crisco shortening. Be sure to coat the underside of the pan. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.
After he teaches you how to season the cast iron, he then covers how to clean it after cooking in order to bring it back to its perfectly seasoned state.
- Clean as soon as possible after cooking.
- Scrub again with salt or chainmail.
- If anything is baked on, a little heat gets it off.
- Again, a quick soap and water rinse and dry.
- Add a very light coat of oil on the cooking surface.
Frank ends his cleaning process by putting the pan in a warm oven and letting oven and pan cool together. And that’s also where he stores the pan when not in use.
some new things learned. some old things reinforced and a little conflicting information. I short, good info for the youngsters who have no idea how to care for cast iron
The way I return used cast iron to like new condition is to put it in the oven, upside down, and then put the oven on the Clean cycle. I have found that pretty much everything, to include any rust, is gone from the cast iron when finished. At that point the cast iron is ready for seasoning.