Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cast Iron--How to Protect and Maintain Your Cookware

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As a transplant--this is my husband's term for a city-born person gone country--I was raised eating foods cooked in aluminum, stainless steel, and Teflon coated cookware. Not that these items are reserved just for city folk, but they were what I was familiar with. My husband, however, was raised on a small farm and was no stranger to cast iron. So four years ago, when he brought home a cast iron skillet he'd purchased at an auction, I didn't know what to do.
I stared at the slight rust on the handle, the black coating, and bit of grime on the bottom and sides and curled my lip. I knew that cast iron, like stoneware, couldn't be washed in hot, soapy water so.... Ew!

"I got it for a dollar," my husband said proudly. "It's a Griswold, and it's pretty old."
"Yes. I can see that." I love all things antique and vintage the same as he does, but did I want to cook in something I couldn't wash? No.
Every day he'd come home from work, smell dinner on the stove, and ask if I'd used my new-old skillet yet. "Not yet, but I will." Eventually.
I think more than anything, I was afraid of the unknown. At the time, we had satellite television and the Hallmark channel played around the clock (well, until all the guys got home anyway). I got hooked on Mad Hungry, a cooking show hosted by Lucinda Scala Quinn. She has three boys too and can relate to the exhaustion of a mother who's constantly trying to fill their bottomless bellies! Finally, an ally.
A few weeks after my hubby's proud purchase, Lucinda hosted an episode dedicated to properly seasoning, cleaning, and caring for cast iron cookware. Be brave, I told myself. Give it a try. Using her instructions, the skillet transformed into a rust-free, grime-free, shiny black beauty. The more I cooked in it, the more the fear subsided. Now, cast iron is my go-to choice for cookware. Over the last few years, I've collected many sizes of skillets, and sometimes I even bake in them.
In fact, I'm so obsessed with cast iron that my initial reaction to the scene in the Disney's Tangled when the hero and heroine meet for the first time was, "Ooh, I wonder if that's a Griswold number seven."
I'd like to use this post to inform others of the joys of cast iron, not only to clean and maintain your already existing cookware, but also to ease the fears of anyone else who might be apprehensive. I hope you find these links helpful:

Clean and Refurbish Cast Iron
A great article from that gives step-by-step instructions on how to burn off baked-on mess, how to remove rust, season, and maintain your cast iron cookware.

Martha Stewart--How to Season Old and New Cast Iron
This great YouTube video instructs on how to properly wash and season new and old cast iron cookware, brought to you by the knowledgeable Martha Stewart.

Cast Iron 101
Basic tips and techniques from

I prefer to clean my pans using the oil/coarse salt method, but it may not be for everyone. For more information on cast iron cookware, including sizes, availability, and uses, visit Lodge website.

Candice Sue Patterson is the author of Bright Copper Kettles and Silver White Winters. She lives on a hobby farm with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she's not tending to her chickens, splitting wood, or working in the vegetable garden, she's working on a new story. Candice writes inspirational contemporary romance. Visit her website for more information. Follow Candice on Facebook and Twitter!

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