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Caring for your Cast Iron

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  • By Paige
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Caring for your Cast Iron


Today: a conversation concerning Cast Iron care. We love cast iron cookware for many reasons. To mention just a few... Beautiful Cast Iron pans are widely accessible and with proper care they last forever. Perhaps most importantly, the most delicious meals we’ve eaten have been prepared on cast iron pans. Abraham Darby, an Englishman, is credited with patenting the first cast iron cookware in 1707, although humans have been cooking on cast iron since it was invented, presumably in China in 5th century B.C. Needless to say, this kitchen tool has stood the test of time. Despite this, properly caring for cast iron pots and pans hasn’t been passed down so readily. Whether you’ve just purchased a pan from our collection, or have been recently gifted a family heirloom, we invite you to read along if you are new to cast iron cooking.

Our collection of cast iron is from the ever-growing, admirable company Smithey, of North Charleston, South Carolina. Smithey was born when founder and owner Isaac Morton fell in love with restoring vintage iron wares and other old cookware. One of the most alluring features of a Smithey is its machine finished interior, which makes it easy to clean and to create a strong naturally non-stick seasoning layer. No more broken-sad-scrambled-not-so-over-easy eggs! Every piece comes perfectly pre-seasoned, which gives the inside a stunning copper glow and the true ease of taking it home to use right away.


"Honestly, you CAN use soap! Although, this is has been hotly debated among certain spouses."


Your Smithey cast iron can be used on all cook surfaces, whether you cook over gas, an induction burner, a glass-top or wood-fire stove. These cast irons retain and evenly distribute heat, resulting in a consistent temperature throughout.

To clean, we use a chainmail scrubber or dish brush, water, and a touch of soap. Honestly, you CAN use soap! (Although, this has been hotly debated among certain spouses) Most modern soaps don’t contain lye which have been associated with “eating away” at your seasoned coating. Hand-washing your cast iron pan with a chainmail scrubber removes stubborn caramelized remnants. We love the chainmail because it won’t house bacteria like other sponges, and can be thrown in the dishwasher for degreasing. Although it may be tempting to leave your pan to be washed in the morning, never let your pan sit in baths of water for long as they can rust, tragically. And a final tip: after you’ve washed your pan, set it back on the cooktop on medium heat until the remaining moisture has evaporated, this will ensure that it is ready to be seasoned and used for your next meal.


Old-fashioned lard, plain vegetable oil, GRAPESEED oil


First, what is seasoning? It’s the glorious layer of oil that when heated appropriately binds to the surface of your cast iron. Since cast iron has a porous surface the seasoning helps protect from air and moisture. The magic of cast iron seasonings is how it enhances a natural non-stick surface to cook on. Usually, seasoning is built up while you cook on the cast iron with time, but we have a quick how-to for re-seasoning that fresh cast iron cookware or even the neglected one tucked away in the cupboard will benefit from.

Secondly, how to season? Remember: thin layer of oil! Avoid using too much oil while re- seasoning because it creates a gummy or uneven surface where it could flake. You can re-season using your oven, stovetop or broiler. Our go-to is the stovetop: apply a thin layer of oil by dropping a quarter-size drop into the bottom of the pan. You can use lard, plain vegetable oil or grapeseed oil. We highly recommend grapeseed oil because of its neutral flavor (hello cookie skillet post garlic herbed chicken dish!) and that is has a higher smoke point than the commonly used olive oil. Then use a clean cotton rag to wipe the oil through the interior. Next, you will heat your cast iron on high until you see wisps of smoke from the pan. Then that’s your cue to turn off the heat. If you see any excess, pooling oil in the pan feel free to wipe the excess out now.

If oven or broiler are more your thing... Preheat your oven to 450’ F or turn your broiler on high. Then add your thin layer of oil and pop the pan in. For the oven it will hang out for 1 hour then let you turn off your oven leaving your pan to cool down in the oven overnight. For the broiler it’s a quick 7-10 minutes or until your pan darkens.

Thirdly, how often? You do not have to season after each use. Smithey adds a thick, durable pre-seasoning that makes their cookware ready to use as soon as you get home. Other brands might need more love to build up a strong coat of seasoning before first use. When to season really depends on what you are cooking in your cast iron. Fatty and acidic foods like bacon and tomatoes are harder on existing seasoning. Pancakes and eggs don't effect the seasoning much at all. Also how often you use your pan determines the wear-and-tear and need for maintaining the seasoning layer. Simple rule: is the more you use the pan the more wear on the seasoning. However, the more you use the pan the better it will perform as it is adding new molecules of polymerized oils.  

We hope this helps shake any mystery or uncertainty with caring for your cast iron and if you are in the market for a new cast iron pan come check out our Smithey Collection online or in store.




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