How to CookCast Iron

What’s the Best Way to Care for Cast Iron?

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There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: You've seasoned (and re-seasoned), but food is still sticking to your cast iron cookware. Don't panic, we've got the panacea.

How to Care for Cast Iron, from Food52

Every kitchen needs a cast iron pan. Well-seasoned and properly cared for, your cast iron cookware will be a constant cooking companion for a lifetime (or more). We’ve talked about how to choose the right one to add to your arsenal, how to clean cast iron, and how to season it -- but if you’ve seasoned (and re-seasoned), and that coveted non-stick surface doesn’t pan out, you might start to wonder what you’re doing wrong.

This week on the Hotline, bamcnamara asked exactly that, and the community got fired up to help:

  • Meghann Cantey recommends making sure the pan is fully heated up before putting food in it, and taking care to avoid using cast iron with super-high heat.
  • Scrubbing the pan clean with salt and making sure it's always well-oiled are important maintenance steps, but petitbleu thinks the real trick to cast iron is just using it all the time.
  • Ceeteebee finds that before trying to cook eggs in cast iron it helps to cook foods with higher fat content (like bacon) in the pan at least once or twice.
  • Multiple members have had better success with vintage cast iron and Sfmiller explains why it's a good idea to scour antique markets: "Old cast-iron skillets were polished on the inside to get that smooth surface, and subsequent seasoning made them even smoother. Modern cast iron generally isn't polished, hence the rough cooking surface. It smooths out somewhat with seasoning, but you'll never get that glass-smooth surface that you do with old cast iron."
  • We know that everything's better with butter, and Steph agrees -- her secret to prevent eggs from sticking in cast iron is to use LOTS of butter.

What do you think is the best way to maintain cast iron pans? Do you slather them with lard? Do you break with convention and clean them with soap? Tell us in the comments!

Photo by Nicole Franzen


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Tags: Community, Advice, DIY Food, How-To & Diy, Hotline, Your Burning Questions, Best Question