A cast-iron pan, skillet, or Dutch oven are tried and tested pieces of cookware that have been around for hundreds of years. This cookware can be used for cooking any number of dishes. They are versatile, and with great care and maintenance, cast iron can last for decades.
One of the ways to keep your cast iron pans maintained is by using a cast-iron conditioner. What is a cast iron conditioner, you ask?
Cast iron conditioners season cast iron cookware to create a natural and easy-release surface. The conditioner, along with regular use of cast iron, will assist in building up a non-stick barrier. This is a natural, non-stick surface different from a non-stick chemical coating.
Part two of this question: should you be using it? The answer is an absolute yes. Cast iron requires protection from water to stop rust and the seasoning provides you with a non-stick surface.
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Cast Iron Conditioner
Cast iron conditioner, or its more common name, seasoning for cast iron, is basically a mixture of oily ingredients combined to help clean and maintain cast iron surfaces.
Manufacturers of cast iron conditioners or seasonings have honed the mixture to give the user the best possible outcome when caring for their precious cast iron.
Cast Iron Conditioner Ingredients
Cast iron conditioners are Dutch oven, and cast iron pan-friendly.
These conditioners consist of all-natural ingredients that can include palm oil, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, vitamin E, and citric acid.
The palm oil-based formula makes it easier to clean cast iron pans.
Properties of Cast Iron Conditioner
Cast iron conditioners are temperature-sensitive. They can harden up, and the consistency can become thick.
If you live in a country with a cold climate, the conditioner may become hard. To use, massage the tube with your palms or soak it in warm water to soften it.
One should keep cast iron conditioners at room temperature and away from sunlight.
Warm temperatures make the conditioner thin out. In case this happens, make sure to open the conditioner with its lid pointed down because the conditioner will run down rapidly.
Clots can appear in the conditioner as well. When that happens, use a small nail or anything similar to dislodge the clot.
How Do You Condition Cast Iron?
Many cooks shy away from investing in a cast iron pan as it is a common belief that it is hard to clean and maintain.
This is not true. Along with incredible non-stick, even-heating performance, cast iron pans are easy to clean and maintain compared to stainless steel and other modern skillets.
We really should follow the lead of professional chefs. Quality cast iron cookware is at the top of a chef’s arsenal list. Yes, chefs use cast iron cookware.
To keep your cast iron pan in tip-top shape, here are a few guidelines:
Season for All the Right Reasons
Most cast iron cookware comes pre-seasoned with a light layer of seasoning. This layer is only good enough for transporting the cookware from the manufacturing plant and storage until the piece is shipped to you.
I would advise that you season your new pre-seasoned cast iron pan with a cast iron conditioner for extra protection and longevity. To strengthen it, you only need to heat it on the stovetop until you see smoke coming out.
Rub a little cast iron conditioner or other cooking oil onto it. Place the iron inside an oven or on a grill, heating it at 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour or until smoking ceases. Leave the iron to cool off.
Repeat these steps a few times – you will see the shiny surface, and the cookware is ready to cook up a storm.
2. Wash After Each Use
Use the sponge’s scrubby side or another nylon brush scrubber to remove all baked-on food from your cast iron pan. After each use, dish soap and hot water are okay, but you must dry it immediately.
Top Tip: Do not place lids on cast iron cookware. Let them dry out separately. This one tip will help alleviate rust forming inside your cookware.
3. Season After Every Wash
Place a cast-iron pan over the burner on high heat. Add some canola oil or cast iron conditioner when the water dries out and rub it around with a paper towel. Keep heating until the smoke comes off. Let it cool.
4. Never Soak Cast Iron or Let It Stay Wet
Water is the enemy of your cast iron pan. Always dry your pan with a paper towel after each wash. Even a single water spot can lead to a rust spot on your cast iron pan.
Cleaning Cast Iron Pans
Precautions to take while cleaning a cast iron pan:
Taking care of a pre-seasoned cast iron pan is simple and easy. A non-stick cast iron pan usually requires a rinse with hot water and wiping with tissue paper or a towel to clean off any residue.
Use a scourer or a flat-edged scraper to remove food particles. Take care, as a hard scrub can peel off the seasoning that protects the cast iron, and you will need to carry out full seasonings more often.
Along with that, never use soap on such pans. A cast-iron conditioner is fabulous for removing sticky food particles without damaging the non-stick.
In case some food particles get stuck onto the cast iron pan, soak your pan in hot water for a few minutes and then clean it with a piece of cloth, tissue, or towel.
Another method would be to heat water in the pan’s bottom and then use a scraper to remove the food particles gently. Make sure to use a plastic scraper, not any material, as they might peel off the non-stick coating on a cast iron pan.
Lastly, one thing is a must before storing your precious cast iron pan: make sure that it is thoroughly dry. Although cast iron pan seasoned non-stick coating is rust-resistant, even a tiny amount of water can cause the pan’s surface to rust.
Expert Tips: Frequently Asked Questions
Smelly cast iron is terrible – check this article Why Does My Cast Iron Smell that helps you remove smells from cast iron cookware if you have that problem.
Do You Clean Cast Iron After Every Use?
Some people confuse cleaning as iron with seasoning or conditioning after every use.
Yes, you need to clean cast iron after every use the same as you would plates and utensils.
It is as simple as scouring food remnants off the iron, adding water and scrubbing if required, and ensuring the pan is dry before storing.
How Can You Tell if Cast Iron Is Seasoned?
Your food will start to stick to the cast iron, regardless of temperature or how much cooking oil you use.
The sooner you re-season or condition, the easier and quicker the task.
What Does Seasoning a Cast Iron Pan Do?
Seasoning gives the user a non-stick surface for a better food preparation experience and protects the iron from rust.
Final Thoughts – What Is Cast Iron Conditioner?
Care for your cast iron as you use it. It allows you to fry eggs on its shiny slippery surface every Sunday morning without sticking…
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