Cleaning & Maintain Your Cast Iron Cookware Like A Pro!
There are 3 ways you can clean out your cast iron cookware after use.
- Wipe out your Cast iron with Paper towels
- Adding hot water and scrubbing with a brush & plastic scraper
- Adding water, boil and scrape with a chainmail or plastic scraper
SOAP IS NEVER TO BE USED ON YOUR CAST IRON PANS!
With cast, iron cookware soap is never used as it removes the non-stick seasoned surface that has been created with the oil. Soap can even impart a soapy taste to the cast iron if the seasoned layer has not been removed. So, it’s best to just skip the soap and reach for paper towels or hot water to clean.
Wipe And Put Away
Wiping out your cast iron cookware with regular paper towels is the most common when nothing has been left behind other than oil. Foods such as pancakes, French toast, or eggs typically are clean and do not have any proteins leftover on your piece.
It’s good to use a nice thick paper towel that will wipe away any grease and keep that nice, seasoned base on your pans. My choice is Bounty as I found that it is nice and thick and wipes nice. I typically just toss the grease-filled paper towel into the fire.
Add Hot Water And Scrub
When you cook meats such as steak, pork chops, chicken, or fish, some proteins are usually left behind and stuck on the cast iron pan. These brown bits can easily be removed with hot water and a plastic scrub brush and a plastic scraper.
I use one that has a nice long handle so I can use really hot water to scrub. The scrubbing is not really that much scrubbing. The seasoned base typically releases any kind of stuck-on food easily after the hot water is applied. The pieces should come off easily. Dump the hot water out and inspect the cookware, anything that is still stuck on can be easily removed with a plastic scraper.
Rinse with hot water and wipe dry. Add the piece to some heat such as a campfire for a few minutes to dry, add oil and bring to a smoke point, remove from heat, allow to cool, and wipe dry. The seasoning coat will be protected.
Boil Followed With Scrubbing
Sometimes cast iron can have foods stuck on them and they are difficult to remove. Often this is a result of not using any oil when cooking your foods with a cast iron. This can happen if you are cooking starches or eggs with no oil. What happens is the food sticks to the cast iron bottom and burns on or is just stuck on.
The best way to remove this caked food is to add hot water and bring it to a boil. This allows the water to get under the food and lifts it away from the cast iron pan. Simply using the scrub brush and the plastic scraper is sufficient to remove most pieces. After all, the pieces have been removed it’s as simple as re-seasoning the skillet again.
How Do You Clean A Burnt Cast Iron Pan?
For stubborn or burned foods, the best practice is to fill the pan or Dutch oven with water and simmer the water for a few minutes to aid in the release of stubborn foods caked on the bottom. Take that metal utensil and scrape the food off while it’s simmering.
I also have cast-iron chainmail which is essentially a pan scrubber made of metal. Chainmail’s allow you to scrub off stuck-on bits of food without the elbow grease and won’t scratch the iron. Many chainmails can become a staple in your cast iron adventures for a reasonable price.
How Do I Get Rid Of Rust On My Cast Iron?
Despite all good intentions, rust can still happen. With a little effort, the rust can be removed with a steel brush, removing moisture, and re-seasoning.
To remove, scrub the rust with a steel brush or chainmail until the rust is gone. Rinse the area well, and then dry completely. You will then need to re-season the pan. For rust that is stubborn to remove, you can also sprinkle salt on the affected areas, let sit for 30 minutes, and then scrub off with the steel scrubber or chainmail. Always be sure to rinse and dry thoroughly.
Rust on cast iron is a result of an improperly seasoned pan, a pan that has not been seasoned, not cleaning it correctly, or using harsh chemicals to clean the pan. But just because there is rust, don’t be daunted.
It’s easy to remove the rust, and you’ll just want to make sure to re-season the pan after the rust is removed to eliminate any future rusting. If you are out camping the easiest way to re-season is to just use it as you normally would over the fire the piece will become re-seasoned again by cooking with it.
How Should I Store The Cast Iron Pans While Camping?
If I’m going to use it again shortly, I would just wash, dry, and maybe heat over a fire and finally wipe down with oil and store it under the awing facing down on my picnic table.
It’s best to store your cast iron cookware after it has been dried and seasoned. I always consider wiping down the piece with a little oil to make sure it will not rust and then wrap it with an old clean towel that I use for my cast iron pans, Dutch oven, or griddle.
Then I place it in a plastic bag and out of where it might rain. There are also a variety of canvas storage bags that can be used to store your cast iron. For a camping griddle, I use something like this one. For my cast iron pans this works great for the Dutch oven.