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Cast Iron Care

The Original NonStick Cookware

Caring for Cast Iron
Seasoning Cast Iron with Oil

Seasoning Cast Iron with Oil

One of the common misconceptions I hear about cast iron cookware is the difficulty in caring and that food sticks to the surface.  In my humble opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s only drawback is its weight.  This limits, somewhat where you can use it, i.e. it’s not for packing on your back into remote base camps.  That said, I will pack it in on horseback, and use it in a good wall tent in the areas out West.  However, it’s my go to cookware for everything else; RV, Home, and cabin cooking.

The issue with cast iron is in its care, and that begins with prepping it prior to your first use.  Good quality cast iron is essential.  My preference is Lodge cast iron which has quite literally been passed down through generations in my family.  It’s beauty is it’s longevity and it’s ability to get better as time goes on, if, it’s been properly cared for, which, is not nearly as laborious as you might think.

Seasoning

Before you use your cast iron, it must be properly seasoned.  This is a simple process, that will insure it will have the nonstick properties we appreciate and desire.

The first step is cleaning and drying.  Utilize a mild dishwashing soap then thoroughly rinse.  When done, dry it with a towel or paper towel then allow to sit out and air dry for about 30 min.

Part of the seasoning process

Baking Your Cast Iron

Once dried, put a small amount of vegetable oil, maybe a tablespoon or two and pour it directly onto your cooled skillet, dutch oven, pot, or griddle.  Spread it around to obtain an even coat on the base and up the sides of the cookware.  Once done, place it in a 350 degree oven, upside down.  Bake it at 350 for one hour.  Turn the oven off and allow it to cool.  The cookware is now ready to use.

Note:  Before you bake it, line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil to catch any oil drippings in your oven.

Cooking With Your Cast Iron

Fried eggs and bacon.

Fried eggs and bacon.

Cast Iron has the ability to disperse heat more evenly than any other cooking medium.  Because of this ability, and it’s ability to retain heat well, high temperatures are not often needed.  Medium heat is always a good starting point and will prevent burning food items.  The least of your worries is damaging the cookware.  It has the incredible ability to handle heat extremely well, and given it’s all metal construction won’t char or burn the wood handle on the higher end cookware.

I chose a dreaded egg to demonstrate the effectiveness of the cookware and later show the nonstick properties.  We’ve all seen the egg cause untold frustration in sticking to the surface.  If you’ve seasoned your cast iron and kept it lightly oiled, it’s an issue you won’t have to deal with again.  The cookware will clean up quickly and easily with minimal effort.

Care after use

Hot Water cleaning

Hot Water cleaning

I’ve found the easiest and most effective way to clean my cast iron is to do so while it’s hot.  The construction of good cast iron such as Lodge is that it will not warp when water is placed in the pan while it’s hot.  I allow it to cool slightly, place hot water in the cookware, then use my metal spatula to scrape any residue off the bottom.  I’ll pour out the water and left over food items then add a small amount of hot water.  While it’s sitting, I add a healthy amount of coarse salt and let it sit.  The salinity of the water will prohibit bacteria growth and keep it clean for next use.

Salt in the cookware

Salt in the cookware

If I’m in the woods and needing to get out on stand or begin my hunt, I find this method saves me a lot of time in the after meal clean up and even helps prepare the pan for later use.

If time permits, prior to heading out in the field, I’ll rub a light coat of oil on the inside cooking surfaces and set it aside for the next use.

Periodic Seasoning

About every 3-4 months I will re-season the cookware, depending on the amount of use I’ve given it, using the steps outlined above for initial seasoning.  This insures a couple of very important things for me.

  1. The cookware will continue to remain nonstick.
  2. I can vouch that the cookware will get better and better with each use.

Storing Your Cast Iron

2014-11-07 15.28.07I prefer to stack my case iron, one inside the other, with a layer of paper towel in between.  Prior to stacking and storing, I coat the cooking surfaces with a light coat of vegetable oil, then line it with a paper towel.  Doing so insures my Lodge cast iron will remain in great shape for its next use.

 

About Scott Lewis (5 Articles)
Lifetime big game hunter, with extensive hunting experience in the West for deer, bear, elk, and pronghorn. Introduced to the great outdoors by my grandfather, and spending the next 30 years rifle hunting. I've been fortunate to harvest a large number of big game animals, all on DIY hunts. After having moved to Virginia, I became a convert to the incredible world of bowhunting through ProStaffer Jason Herndon, a long time friend of mine. Since that moment I've been addicted. Although rifle hunting is a fantastic sport, bowhunting is now my passion. Equally enjoyable to me is cooking. I find it the greatest way to savor the effort and success of the hunt. The sport is not complete without the fare on the table. To make our enjoyment that much more fulfilling, I've spent many years honing my cooking skills and have developed recipes that are easy and satiating. The kitchen has become enormously enjoyable and nearly as relaxing as the field. As such, I will be contributing numerous articles on putting your game on the table and giving your family something to enjoy right along with you. I am retired law enforcement and US Army, who is now enjoying my psuedoretirement in the outdoors and kitchen.

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