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Basic Tips for Seasoning and Caring for Cast Iron


New or old, cast iron is built for a lifetime - and longer and is simple to clean and care for.

New cast iron, if it doesn't come pre-seasoned from the manufacturer, but be prepared at home. It will come from the factory with a protective coating to prevent rust. This will need to be removed in hot, soapy water. That is probably the last time your cast iron cookware should ever see soap.

When coating your cookware with oil, the higher the saturated fat the better. Monounsaturated fat coatings may turn rancid over time.

The best method (and according to the Lodge company) is in a 350 degree F. oven. Place foil in bottom to catch dripping oils. Do not overcoat the cookware as this may cause the surface to become sticky when done. You can place the cookware face down on a lower rack and heat for about an hour. Allow it to cool before removing.

Avoid cooking acidic foods, such as tomatoes, in cast iron, even when well-seasoned. They can cause a reaction with the iron and develop an off taste. The combination will eat away the carefully seasoned surface as well.

Once your cast iron is well-seasoned, all you have to do is wait for the cookware to cool and rinse. Do not use soap. If stubborn food remains, use a bristled brush. You can also "burn" off food after it is clean and this will destroy any bacteria.

Always allow it to dry thoroughly before storing. Reapply a layer of cooking spray or oil on the inside, although this may not be necessary with well-seasoned surfaces. If possible, leave pots open and keep lids separate. If not, place a dish towel or other soft object on the lip to allow for air circulation. Rust may appear if any wet spots remain. These are easily scrubbed away and the pot will require re-seasoning.

With time and cooking, cast iron will develop a rich black coating that is glass smooth. This is a wonderful achievement. Even old pieces found at garage sales and covered in rust can be returned to that glorious sheen with a little elbow grease, scouring pads, and a good, deep re-seasoning.

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