Pots, pans, and skillets made of cast iron that have been seasoned correctly, well-maintained and stored in the correct environment, can last a lifetime. Cast iron cookware is as close to indestructible as you can get. If you’re going to be moving or will be away from home for an extended period and want to make sure that your skillet or cast iron pot is still in good enough condition to cook on when you get back, then read on.
We’ll be showing you exactly how to store cast iron over a long term with minimal fuss and effort. Follow our advice, and you’ll save yourself the hassle of having to scour and season your cast iron from scratch.
Make Sure That Your Cast Iron is Clean
The slightest amount of moisture will cause your cast iron to rust. Scrub your cast iron cookware thoroughly using a little kosher/coarse salt and hot water to guarantee that all food particles are dislodged. Don’t bring soapy water near your cast iron as it will destroy the patina and you’ll have to season it all over again. Once you’re sure that your cookware is spotless, it’s time to get it 100% dry.
Dry Your Cast Iron Completely
Dry your cast iron off and then place it in an oven or on a stovetop at a low heat to make sure that all the moisture has dissipated. As soon as it is dry, take it out carefully and use a paper towel or dishcloth to apply a light layer of vegetable oil. Use the same oil as you used when you seasoned your cast iron initially. Once lightly oiled, reheat the cookware for another 5 to 10 minutes before allowing it to cool.
Wrap and Pack Your Cookware
Pack your cast iron cookware full of crumpled paper towels, newspaper, or even inexpensive dishtowels. Try to make sure that all the internal space is occupied with just a little room for air. Another great way to beat humidity is to toss in a little dry rice. It effectively absorbs moisture. If you have a sachet of silica gel handy, toss that in instead to guarantee that no moisture can damage your cookware.
Store any lids you may have separately. You don’t want to lock the condensation in. Once you’ve packed your pots and pans full of your choice of moisture-absorbing substance, you’re ready to find a place to put it away.
Preparing Your Cast Iron for storage
Before rushing off to find the right place to store your cookware over a prolonged period, it is highly recommended that you find an airtight method of storage. Either place each cast iron item in a zipper-lock bag or a suitably sized plastic lidded container. This minimizes the effect of external moisture and humidity, preventing your cookware from rusting.
It also makes it less likely any insects contaminate your cast iron. If you resort to a zipper-lock bag, make sure that it’s open a crack so that there is a little airflow. Similarly, if you’re using a container, it must not be totally airtight. A small amount of air has to be able to enter to prevent the oils from turning rancid.
Packing Your Cast Iron Away
The best place to store cast iron is a warm, dry area which is free from humidity and condensation-causing heat. Stay away from your stove area and refrain from packing cast iron beneath your sink, or near it. Hanging cast iron cookware is a good idea; just make sure that your hooks are secure as most cast iron is very heavy.
The airflow also lowers the chances of rust developing. The warmer drawer of your stove is a great place to keep cast iron as the heat from the oven and stovetop evaporate any moisture that may be present. Alternatively, both the stovetop itself and the inside of an oven when not in use make great storage places for cast iron. A deep kitchen drawer is another leading choice as long as the base can support the weight.
If you own a variety of cast iron cookware, consider devoting an entire kitchen cupboard to your collection. As long as it’s dry and ventilated, you can store your cast iron for ages.
Other Preservation Options
Certain cast iron enthusiasts feel that beeswax preserves cast iron cookware better. For this approach, you’d wipe away as much oil as possible. Thereafter, heat the cast iron pot, pan or skillet and then rub it everywhere with beeswax.
Once it cools down, your cast iron will be extremely well-protected. Not only is beeswax completely food safe, but it wipes away within minutes using minimal effort. When you’re ready to retrieve your cast iron, simply heat it up and give it a wipe.
Cast Iron Cookware is Lasting Cookware
Cast iron doesn’t need much to maintain its quality and the high-heat non-stick cooking surface. Some people have stored their pans for years after following the light preparation that we’ve listed above. Once you’ve eliminated moisture and guaranteed that your cookware is freshly seasoned, it’ll come out of storage looking like brand new.