While this question may seem really strange, it actually has a lot of relevance when you own cast iron cookware. It boils (pun intended) down to the preservation of your cast iron pots and pans. Cast iron cookware is an investment and you will notice after a while, it will start to lose its luster. Losing its luster means losing their fabulous non-stick powers and potentially seeing it begin to rust. Do not fear, however, because bringing back its sheen and protecting it from oxidation is extremely easy. The process is called, of all things, seasoning.
Seasoning Your Cast Iron Cookware
While your cast iron pot or pan is still warm, but easy to handle, scrub it well in hot soapy water. Scrub with a non-abrasive sponge and dish soap to remove any baked in lumps. If you’re nervous about using a sponge, you can always use salt to help remove any stubborn bits of cooked-on food.
Using a clean dry cloth or paper towels.
Shortening or vegetable oil
Melt some shortening (for example Crisco) or vegetable oil, and spread a thin layer over the cast iron pot.
Oven on HIGH temperature
This is very important. At a minimum of 375°F, put your oiled cast iron pot into the oven. Place it upside down on the middle rack, with something like foil on the lower rack underneath, to catch any drippings. A lot of people make the mistake of having their ovens on a lower heat, which doesn’t bake the oil into the pot well enough.
Bake for 1 hour and let it cool down in the oven.
Building up layers of seasoning is vital to the long-lasting use of your cast iron cookware. It takes time and effort, but is absolutely worth it.
Daily Cleaning of Cast Iron Cookware
You don’t have to season your cast irons every day, but you SHOULD be cleaning them pretty quickly after every use. A lot of people don’t like using dish soap, but there are a few that claim it doesn’t do any harm to your seasoning layers, so, it’s really entirely up to you if you want to use dish soap or not.
It is advised though, that you DO NOT EVER leave your cast iron pot or pan in any type of water, hoping it will remove any stubborn stains; this will guarantee your pot will begin to rust a lot quicker than you would like. Using water as hot as possible (use gloves if you can), wash the pot with a sponge or a stiff brush. Always try and wash by hand, as they are not generally known to be dishwasher safe. Do not ever use steel wool.
To remove any baked-on foods, use the stiff brush or sponge with some salt and hot water. If you are struggling with some extra stubborn debris, boiling the pan in some water should help loosen it. Thoroughly towel dry the pot or you can even leave it on a low heat on the stove to dry properly. Apply a thin layer of oil to the inside of the pan and store in a dry space until its next use.
General Care Instructions
Before you cook with any of your cast iron cookware, apply a little vegetable oil to the cooking surface. Preheat the pot or pan slowly over a low heat and increase the temperature slowly, until the desired temperature is reached.
Never use your cast iron cookware for marinating. Mixtures that have a high acidic content will damage all the hard work you put in to seasoning your pot.
Re-season your pot or pan if you notice rust appearing, experience a metallic taste in your food, or if you observe the non-stick powers becoming weaker.
If you see rust spots begin to appear, don’t panic — you won’t have to toss your expensive beloved kitchen essential. Gently use some steel wool (yes, steel wool but GENTLY!) or you can even use half of a raw potato and some baking soda. It will be necessary to re-season after this procedure, however, so bear that in mind.
So, can you boil water in cast iron cookware? Without a doubt, you certainly can! Just remember not to leave the water in the pan for any extended period of time, otherwise, your seasoning layers may not remain intact, losing the non-stick feature that you want to ensure remains.