Discovering The Best Way To Clean Cast Iron Cookware
We’ve talked about the reasons chefs should switch to cast iron – it has a reputation for being versatile and is one of the most popular pans for cooking. It is also thought to be one of the most challenging cookware items to care for. However, it’s fairly easy to maintain, as long as it’s seasoned and cleaned well.
When the seasoning wears a little or you’ve prepared a dish that is extra sticky or gooey, you need to clean cast iron cookware with more than a swipe of a clean towel. For years, professionals in the foodservice industry and everyday cooks have argued over the proper way to remove food that might get stuck. Here are some of the most popular, and most debated, ways to clean cast iron cookware.
Brush & Scraper
The least expensive way to clean cast iron cookware is using a brush or scraper to remove food. They are even gentle enough to use on enamel cast iron. Next, use a dry paper towel to wipe out any food you scraped off.
Some chefs prefer cleaning their cast iron cookware with kosher salt. While kosher salt is coarse and it seems like scrubbing cast iron with abrasive salt could be damaging, it isn’t. The cast iron is harder than salt, so kosher salt will not scratch the pan or remove the seasoning. What it does do is remove stuck-on food, making it a reliable way to clean cast iron. Pour a few tablespoons of salt into the pan and use a dry paper towel to wipe the skillet/pan out. Then give it a quick rinse in lukewarm water and thoroughly dry the pan.
The biggest debated way to clean cast iron is to use dish soap. Those who adhere to the ways of older generations say ‘absolutely not!’ and others say that you can. After lots of research, the answer to this long-debated question is – you can clean cast iron with soap.
When the soap or no soap debate began a long time ago, dish detergent was a lot more powerful. It contained vinegar and lye, both of which damage cast iron, and striped the skillets and pans of the oil and even in some cases, completely of the seasoning. Dish soap is now more environmentally friendly and does not contain either of those ingredients. Today’s foodservice grade dish soap is much milder and is an effective way to clean cast iron.
While some chefs in the foodservice industry season their cast iron cookware with bacon grease, others use it to clean the skillet. Bacon grease is a natural fat, and once it has been sitting for a few hours, it cools and separates, making rubbing some grease on cast iron easy. Not only does it clean the pan, but it also shines the pan, improving its appearance. If you place it on the stove, the bacon grease can also season the pan after five to ten minutes.
Baking soda is usually reserved for food that is tough to get off the skillet or pan. Sprinkle a little baking soda on the pan directly on the area where the food remains. Use a brush and scrub it off, then rinse with hot water. If the cast iron pan is not clean, repeat the process until all the food is removed.
All cast iron must have food removed after cooking. Otherwise, any new food you cook in it can become contaminated. But it doesn’t matter which of the above methods you use. These tips will help you clean cast iron cookware and keep your food and customers safe.