I have about 15 or so cast iron pots and pans with six or seven of them in constant use. The others, too good to pass by, are kept seasoned and see occasional use. At least one fry-pan is too big for regular use, but ideal for making breakfast for a crowd. It adds to the rustic feel at the cabin to have all this cast iron hanging along the pot rack.

After dinner clean-up with cast iron is not as problematic as people think. Properly seasoned, cast iron sheds the dinner remnants easily. Eggs and dried stew or gravy look the worst, but simply filling the pan with water will often make this stuff easy to remove. A short simmer with water really makes it simple.

I never use dish detergent on cast iron, however manufacturers suggestions include, “hold the pan under hot water, add a little dishwashing detergent and scrub it clean with a nylon scrub pad or a stiff bristled, non-metal brush.”

A consistent suggestion is never use a metal scouring pad as it removes the seasoning coating you’ve worked hard to establish and maintain.

Dry the pan immediately with a towel and rub it lightly with olive oil to keep it from drying out.

If cast iron is to be stacked, line the pan with paper towel and store it someplace where it is warm and dry. Do not store with the lid in place as condensation can occur creating rust spots.

History suggests that if you find food sticking to your cast iron, you can heat it on high heat for a short time. Take it off the heat and sprinkle in a half teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Rub with a rag and wipe out any leftover salt and allow the pan to cool. When it’s cool rub it again with a clean rag.

Some people reading this will think this all sounds like a lot of work, but actually if you consider the quality experience of heat retention, even heating and fairly easy maintenance of cast iron you will accept that something so good for so long is still great now.

Garage sales, moving out sales and free-store finds of somewhat rusty cast iron pieces should not be overlooked as you can easily bring the piece back to cooking condition. Scour the pan with a nylon scouring pad and wash it in hot soapy water. Rinse it well and dry thoroughly with a rag or paper towel, then coat the inside with lard, shortening or oil. Invert on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven or barbecue. Bake for an hour (it will smoke.) Turn off heat and let the pan cool in the oven.

This of course all depends on your personal thoughts about using cast iron. I would rather use cast iron than any of the high-tech coated pots and pans that seem so common in our modern kitchens.

One of the pleasant realities of cast iron is that it heats very evenly over the whole pan (including the handle) so medium heat is the setting most frequently used.