Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Caring for the Cast Iron

I've gotten into a good groove in how I care for my cast iron, and I just wanted to share it.  One thing I do is cook  foods in it that help cure it.  I make ghee in it, I sometimes make bacon in it, stuff like that.  After I'm done cooking in it, I wipe it down with a wet 100% cotton washcloth (cotton won't melt), water only, right after I'm done cooking (I try to serve immediately when cooking out of the cast iron.)  If it requires more than that, then I put water in it and let it sit on the hot burner.  After the meal I empty it, and go over it with a wet washcloth.  It's best when I can take care of it before eating because the burner is still hot, and I can just put it back on after oiling it.

So to oil it, I keep a cheese cloth with oil on it wadded up in a small-ish magnetic containers.  I got mine at Ikea, I've seen them in many places.  Mine has a see-through lid--that's not important at all.

Here I have pictured paper towel because I'm out of cheesecloth.  

The container fits nicely on the end of the stove, and sticks on because it's magnetic.  

I use sunflower oil, but I also really like ghee and coconut oil for curing.  I give it a good wipe down, even a little on the rim and a bit on the outside of the pan.  Then I put it back on the hot burner or turn the burner on to low and let it sit for a while, maybe thirty minutes, maybe less.  I really like the woodstove method.  It doesn't burn up electricity, and I can let it sit curing for longer.  This is obviously not an option during the summer, but our summers are short.  

I just set it right on top after oiling it.  I leave the pot holder on it anytime it's hot, just as a reminder.  I've burned myself a couple of time, and it's no fun, but not a big deal with honey...honey.  :)  Notice the difference in color between the part we cook in and the handle.  The handle is not cured.  The little pan on the trivet on the right just has water in it to act as a humidifier--I have to refill it once a day, it works beautifully, but has nothing to do with the cast iron.

If I'm going to be using the oven, then I wipe the pan down real quick with the oily cheesecloth, pop the pan in the oven (no pot holder), turn on the oven to preheat, and set the timer for 7 minutes.  That way I don't forget about it and burn the oil, but it gives it another chance to cure.  

It took us a little while to get into this groove.  There were a few times we burnt food onto the pot and had to clean it with steel wool.  That takes off a lot of the good stuff, too, though, so then it's like starting from scratch.  Once I found oils I liked (not canola, not olive) it went a lot more smoothly.  

I hope this has helped.  I read a lot of tips before starting to cure mine, but it still took some trial and error.  I like re-usable things, so when I started oiling the pan from the cheesecloth in that little container on the stove, that bit went much faster.  When it gets dry, I just oil the pan and sop it up with the cheesecloth again.  I hope you're enjoying your pan as much as I am mine, and if you have any tips or comments, please share.  Good day!

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