Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: North Carolina
Everything you need to know.....
How to 'Season' Cast Iron Cookware
Seasoning is the process of allowing oil to be absorbed into the iron, creating a non-stick, rustproof finish. Here's how to do it:
1. Wash with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. Rinse and dry completely.
2. Oil the cookware (inside and out) with MELTED solid vegetable shortening.
3. Turn upside down on the top rack of a 350°F pre-heated oven.
4. Put aluminum foil on the bottom rack to catch any excess drippings.
5. Bake the cookware for one hour at 350°F.
6. Let the cookware cool slowly in the oven.
7. Store, uncovered, in a dry place when cooled.
NEVER wash your cast iron cookware in a dishwasher. I have always washed mine while pot/pan is still hot with a scrub brush and no soap. Like stoneware, cast iron may absorb the soap and then leave a soapy taste in foods. I have always dried mine by placing back on the burner and turning on until dry. Let cool slightly and rub on Crisco.
If your old or new cast iron ware gets light rust spots, scour the rusty areas with steel wool, i.e. SOS pad, until all traces of rust are gone. Wash, dry and repeat seasoning process.
If your food gets a metallic taste, or turns "black", it means one of two things are wrong. Either your pot has not been sufficiently seasoned, or you are leaving the food in the pot after it has been cooked. Cast iron utensils are NOT to be used as storage vessels. Remove food from the cookware as soon as it is cooked. Always clean your utensils immediately with boiling hot water and brush. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Prior to storing, oil very lightly with vegetable shortening, such as Crisco or spray with a shortening spray, such as Pam, then wipe dry with paper towel. Store in a dry place uncovered. This is especially important in humid climates. If you put a lid on a pot for storage, condensation could occur causing rust. Give your pot clean, dry air in a place where the temperature is fairly stable.
It is recommended that you cook foods with high fat and grease content the first few times to expedite seasoning. This would include cooking bacon. sausage, hamburger, or deep frying potatoes, chicken, etc. Soups, stews, etc. (foods with high moisture and acid content) have a tendency to remove seasoning from a cast iron utensil and may want to be avoided at first, or be aware your utensil may have to be re-seasoned after use. After regular use, clean, oil lightly while warm, then wipe dry with paper towel or soft cloth before storing. Your ironware will darken with use and improve with age. A well used piece of ironware will develop a patina that truly is the ultimate in non stick cookware.
In the case of a cast iron cake pan, corn stick pan, popover pan or muffin pan, if seasoned properly, as previously stated, you should have great success with no sticking occurring. Prior to cooking in these utensils oil well, or spray heavily with Pam or other similar spray shortening. It could be said that Pam is cast iron bakeware's best friend. NOTE: Before baking in any cast iron utensil, oil and preheat before pouring in the batter and bake in a preheated oven.
Serving from a Cast Iron Black Pot
If you are camping out or having a western party at home and want to serve beans, stew or chili from the cookware, a few rules are to be followed and no metallic taste will be imparted.
Keep food simmering in the pot until ready to take to the table. To protect the table from the hot pot, place it on some form of trivet. After food is served, cover the pot to keep food hot for second helpings. As soon as the meal is finished, remove food, wash utensils, dry and prepare for storing.
Nutritional Benefit of Ironware
You may not be aware that iron cookware imparts a significant amount of dietary iron to your food, which is absorbed by the body. In other words, cast iron is the healthiest cookware on the market.
Cast iron cookware is the original waterless, energy saving cookware and served this purpose in the sparse life of the pioneers.
The most tender of roasts, cooked in a variety of sauces can be simmered while on low heat on top of the range in a Lodge Dutch Oven. Very little moisture and/or juices are lost, and top- of-the-range cooking is very inexpensive.
Cast iron cookware evenly distributes heat. It discourages "hot spots". If your food burns, it means only one thing - you got the pot too hot. Less heat is needed with cast iron. However, searing, etc. needs to be done on medium-high heat, with temperatures lowered for slow cooking. You will learn the techniques of this cookware as you become experienced with its nature.
You WON'T be sorry - you will love it. - When I cook cornbread I put the pan in the oven with some butter in it. Once pan is heated and butter is melted (about 15 minutes or so) I then pour in batter. This will create and great crust on the outside of the cornbread.