Cooking is fundamental: How to treat your cast iron pan properly

Cast iron pans deserve some serious T.L.C. 

Chefs and cooking enthusiasts are loyal to their cast iron pans, but we must admit that they can be daunting for those who are unfamiliar with them. At the beginning of a cast-iron pan's life especially, they require a lot of T.L.C., not to mention proper maintenance throughout its life. Here's how to care for them, from the very beginning. 

Wash your cast iron.

This is the ONLY time you are going to use soap on your cast iron. Let me repeat that, never put soap and cast iron in the same sentence again, for rust's sake. 

Season your cast iron.

Seasoning is the most crucial part of owning a cast-iron pan. Basically, seasoning requires you to bake fat or oil into your pan. The seasoning is what gives it a non-stick surface. Over time with use, as long as you properly care for it, food will stick to it less.

Many different cooking publications have their own protocol for seasoning a pan, but as long as it doesn't come out sticky, it has been seasoned correctly. 

Clean your cast iron.

Even though we made it clear not to use soap on your cast iron, it obviously still has to be cleaned after use. While it is still warm, use hot water and a soft sponge or brush to remove the residue. If there are bits of food stuck on, pour some salt into your pan and rub with a paper towel, then rinse with hot water. 

After your cast iron is clean, you must ensure that it is 100 per cent dry before you store it, or you will come back to a rusty nightmare. The best method for this is to hand dry it to the best of your ability, then put it on the stove on medium heat for a few minutes. Then, glaze it with shortening, lard, grease or vegetable oil and heat for five to 10 more minutes. Remove the excess fat and store. 

Store your cast iron. 

Store your cast iron in a dry environment with nothing on top of it.

Following these steps will help your cast iron frying pan last forever and be one of your favourite tools in the kitchen.