My husband has always enjoyed cooking, and has done most of it for our large family of 8 kids throughout the last twenty years. One of his favorite things to cook out of is cast iron cookware. In our family, the brunt of the cooking is his, and the brunt of the cleaning is mine. As the primary person doing the cleaning, I’ve learned to maintain my husband’s cast iron cookware with his direction, and have become very good at it. Some of the methods I use for maintaining cast iron cookware at our house are listed below.
When I’m preparing to season a cast iron pan, I first preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Next, I’ll coat the pan with bacon grease, but you can also use lard. Using animal products helps to minimize the frequency of seasoning. You can use olive oil too, but you’ll have to do your seasoning routine more frequently. Finish up by baking the pan in the oven for 1 to 2 hours, then pouring off the excess oil. Return the pan to the oven and allow it to slowly cool down for approximately an additional hour. Be vigilant for rust on your cast iron cookware. When you notice rust, it’s time to clean then re-season.
I’ve used a couple different methods for cleaning our cast iron pans. One of them I’ve used to clean food off of the pan, involves sprinkling some salt into the pan directly, right after it’s been used, and before it cools down. I’ll then use some paper toweling to scrub the salt into the pan with. This cleans up stuck on food nicely.
For rust spots, I’ve cut a potato in half, then sprinkled some salt on the potato’s cut side, as well as directly onto the cast iron pan. The moisture from the potato will lubricate the rust spot and loosen it well. Rinse with water and re-evaluate whether or not the rust spot needs more work.
Things to Avoid
Never soak your cast iron pan in a tub of soapy dish water. This will promote rust immediately. Try to avoid consistently using sharp utensils which may scrape your cast iron cookware. Although, scraping stuck on food with a squared spatula from time to time won’t hurt. Try to steer clear of soaps and detergents with your cast iron. They break down your seasoning work which takes time to build up well.
Source: Personal experience