I must admit that I LOVE my cast iron pan. Lucky me, mine belonged to my mother who for many years cooked some great dishes in it. When I cook in it always reminds me of her. So just how do you CARE for your cast iron pan so it will last for decades? The older, the better with cast iron. You must not only season this pan, you need to know how to clean it properly.
When you go to the store and buy your cast iron pan the first time, you wash it you will do so in a mild soapy water. This is the only time you will wash it this way. Yes, THE ONLY TIME!!! In order to have the perfect cast iron pan, you will not want to use scrubbers or soap, and you will keep removing the 'seasoning' that you are hoping to achieve.
Dishwashers are an absolute No No! The pan would spend way too much time in water with this method.
After you wash the pan for its very first time you must season it. You can do this either with a cooking oil or vegetable shortening. Preheat your oven to 350F. Oil or grease the new pan both on the outside and on the inside and place into the oven. Leave it to bake for one hour. At the end of the hour you will just turn off the oven and let the pan sit in there until everything is cool. Next you use an older kitchen towel to wipe off any oil. That is all you need to do. Even if a pan says pre-seasoned on it when you buy it, do this process anyways.
So now what? You are not allowed to use soapy water so how do you clean the pan? Once you are finished cooking in it, you can usually just use a dry dish rag or paper towels to wipe it out. If it is still messy you can use a wet sponge and if really gunky a soft metal brush is okay. Just do NOT put it into the water to soak. Always, always dry the pan. Water equals rust on cast iron, so you want to rid the pan of that.
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