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Kitchen Equipment

How is cast iron cookware prepared for use in cooking?

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Cast iron is a porous material and needs seasoning to prevent sticking. New pieces may have a coat of wax on them. Scrub off the pre-seasoning coat of wax with a steel-wool soap pad and hot water and then hand-wash with a mild detergent and dry thoroughly. If not thoroughly dried, the iron will rust during storage. Spread solid shortening on the bottom and sides of the cast iron cookware. Place in a 250-300 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and wipe any excess shortening from the cookware. Return to the oven and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. For the first few times the cookware is used, cook high fat items in it to continue the seasoning process (bacon, sausage, fried foods). Avoid using with foods with high acid or moisture contents. Certain foods tend to remove the seasoning. To maintain the seasoning: clean the cookware with a mild dishwashing liquid while the cookware is still warm. Do not soak cookware. Rub with a non-abrasive scouring cloth only. Dry completely after washing (place on a still-warm stove unit or in a still warm oven to complete drying). Never wash cast iron cookware in a dishwasher. To remove burned on food: fill cookware with water and bring to a boil. Scrub with a stiff brush and re-season. To re-season: place cookware in the oven during a regular cleaning cycle of a self-cleaning oven. Scrub off the iron oxide flakes and re-season. PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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