Many amateur cooks believe that non-stick cookware is infinitely preferable to the cast iron version because it is easy to keep clean, it does no™t rust and is fairly affordable. However, cast iron cookware, if cared for and seasoned properly, will last a lot longer — quite probably a lifetime. If your cast iron cookware is rusting, it is a sign that you are no€™t looking after it properly. Fortunately, you can rectify the situation, and prevent future rusting, with the following steps.
Season it properly
Seasoning cast iron cookware is easily done, it just requires a bit of time and effort. However, it will make a huge difference to the quality of your cooking. To season, The Food Network recommends washing and thoroughly drying your cookware and then rub vegetable shortening thoroughly into the inner surfaces. Vegetable shortening is simply a solid fat made up of vegetable oils.
Then place the cookware into an oven heated to approximately 325 degrees Fahrenheit. After an hour, take it out, allow it to cool enough for you to be able to rub the oils around the surface of the cookware again with a cloth. Then return it to the oven for another hour. When you remove the cookware, wipe off the excess oil and allow it to cool properly. Store with paper towels underneath and in between any other pots and pans to avoid damage.
Wash it gently
Once your cookware has been seasoned, you should find that food doesn’€™t stick easily to its surface. It is therefore unnecessary to really scrub the cookware; you should simply be able to wipe it over in hot soapy water and remove any unwanted remnants of food. If you need to scrub at it, you probably haven’€™t seasoned your pan properly and should re-season. Too much scrubbing will remove the existing oils and encourage rusting.
Dry properly before storage
After a gentle wash, you will need to ensure that your cookware is properly dry before storing it in a clean, dry place. You can allow to drip dry and then carefully dry it off with a towel, but a more thorough way to dry it is to put it on the hob and allow the heat to dry any remaining water. Be careful not to burn yourself or forget to turn the hob off once the pan is dry. Once cool, you can store it, knowing that your cookware is completely dry and should remain rust-free.
Re-season as required
If you notice that your cookware is looking dull, the seasoning has been removed, or food seems to be sticking to it more easily than usual, then it is probably time to re-season. If any rust has formed, then this needs to be rubbed away with wire wool or something similar. Then repeating the steps above should be enough to ensure that your cookware is performing at its best.
Before you decide to throw away a piece of cast iron cookware because it has begun to rust, try seasoning it and be amazed at the results. You may never need to pay out for new cookware again.