Cast iron pans are arguably some of the most durable cookware pieces that you can own. Provided that you season and take good care of them properly, they can be of service in the kitchen in many different ways and passed from generation to generation, too. Knowing how to store cast iron pans the right way is essential.
A way to store cast iron pans is by hanging them. It makes them accessible and double as decorative pieces. They may be left on the stovetop or kept in an oven, too. If stored in a cabinet stacked, a piece of kitchen paper should be placed between them. It’s a must that they are dry before storing.
Many people are intimidated by cast iron pans.
Usually, it is because of their price tags, weight, and maintenance needs. The good news is that it is fairly easy to keep them in excellent shape for a long time.
Whether you are planning on buying cast iron pans or you just got your hands on them, read on to learn how to store them correctly.
Ways to Store Cast Iron Pans
Contrary to popular belief, cast iron pans are not delicate pieces of cookware that require tons of love and care, especially when it comes to storing them.
It’s true that they are not like stainless steel pans that are resistant to rust. However, by making sure that they are properly seasoned and correctly stored, rust should not be an issue.
Below are some of the best ways to store cast iron pans. Pick one based on factors such as the size of your cast iron pans and kitchen, as well as your needs and personal preferences.
Hang Them Freely
One of the best ways to store cast iron pans is by hanging them. There are two reasons why this is a good idea:
- It allows you to use them as decorative pieces for the kitchen. Especially if you have an impressive collection of high-quality cast iron cookware and you are proud of it, hanging them for everyone who steps foot inside your kitchen to see allows you to show off your cast-iron beauties.
- It helps keep them from ending up rusty. Nothing can cause rust to form on the surface of cast iron pans faster than storing them while wet or damp. When you hang your cast iron pans, the air will cause any droplet of water to evaporate, thereby keeping rust from coming into being.
There are two ways to hang cast iron pans. You can hang them from a hanging pot rack. You can also hang them on the wall. Either way, you can rest assured that they will be out of harm’s way and can be accessed without any trouble.
Just make sure that the studs or hooks are strong and securely mounted as cast iron pans can be heavy!
Leave Them on the Stovetop
Do you use cast iron pans every single time because you have long discovered the fact that they are some of the most versatile cookware pieces around?
Then you may simply leave them on the stovetop. This helps make sure that they will be ready for some action each time you want to create a culinary masterpiece.
Dust and dirt may collect on the inside of your cast iron pans when you leave them on the countertop. Worry not because there is a quick solution. All you have to do is leave them on the stovetop covered or upside down.
But remember to remove them from the stovetop if you are going to cook using another cookware. The goal is to keep water, sauces and other fluids from splattering on them.
Failure to remove those splatters right away may wreak havoc on the appearance and functionality of your cast iron pans, and it’s all because of rust.
It’s also perfectly fine to leave cast iron pans on the countertop each time you are not using them.
Just make sure that you place them as far away from the sink as possible. This will help keep them from collecting water or moisture, which can cause them to wind up rusty, especially if they are not properly seasoned.
Covering each of them with a kitchen towel can help considerably lower the risk of them forming rust.
Stash Them in a Cabinet
Especially if you want to keep clutter in the kitchen to a minimum, you may consider storing cast iron pans in the cabinet. However, to keep them out of harm’s way, you must ensure the following:
- Check that the cabinet is dry. The goal is to keep your cast iron pans from coming into contact with water. Needless to say, it is a terrible idea to stash them in a cabinet located under the sink. As soon as a pipe leaks, you can rest assured that your cast iron pans are more likely to end up rusty.
- Place a paper towel in between. Does the cabinet accommodate your cast iron pans only when they are stacked? Protect them from ending up scratched by placing a piece of kitchen paper in between them. If you are into recycling, you may simply opt for a used brown paper bag instead of a kitchen paper.
Just a word of caution: NEVER place cast iron cookware in a cabinet while still wet or damp.
It’s either you allow your cast iron pans to air dry or wipe them dry with a kitchen paper or towel beforehand. Otherwise, rust may form. This is especially true if your cast iron pans are poorly seasoned.
Hide Them in the Oven
Aside from a cabinet, the oven can also serve as a storage place for cast iron pans. Yes, the same place where you season your cast iron beauties can be the very same space that can safeguard them when they are not in use.
But just like when stashing them in a cabinet, see to it that your cast iron pans are completely dry — again, storing them while wet or damp can invite rust to form.
And if you are planning to keep them in the oven piled on top of each other, remember to protect each piece by placing a kitchen towel or paper between the pans.
Just make sure that you take your cast iron pans out of the oven before baking or reheating something!
By the way, do you own only one small cast iron pan because you cook occasionally only or you live in a small apartment or condominium unit? Then feel free to store it in the microwave when you are not using it.
How to store cast iron for camping
To store a cast iron pan for camping, place it in a box or carrying bag. It may also be wrapped in towels or clothes to protect it as well as the items around it from getting scratched or dented. When not in use, it must be dried very well and wrapped in towels or clothes.
Due to the sheer versatility of cast iron pans, they make for excellent cooking companions outside the home.
For instance, a small cast iron pan allows you to use it in many ways when camping out.
You can use it for cooking rice. You can use it for heating a can of beans. You can use it for frying a freshly caught fish. You can use it for boiling water.
Before you get to enjoy the perks of having a cast iron pan while exploring the great outdoors, you should keep it out of harm’s way while on your way to the site.
You can do this by placing it in the box that it came in when you purchased it. It may also be placed in its own carrying case.
If there’s space available for it in your backpack, feel free to stash it there. Just make sure that you protect it from coming into contact with hard items by wrapping it in towels or clothes.
But before you use or store cast iron pans, there is one very important step that you need to take first. It’s none other than seasoning it. No, it’s not the same thing as enhancing the flavor of food with herbs and spices.
Continue reading to learn more about seasoning cast iron pans!
How to Season Cast Iron Pans
To season cast iron pans, apply a thin layer of cooking oil or shortening to it. Bake in the oven at 375°F for around 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the oven. To keep cast iron pans seasoned well, apply oil before storing. Repeat seasoning if food sticks or they have lost their patina.
Even if the cast iron pan that you just purchased is already seasoned by the maker, it is generally a good idea that you still season it just before you use or store it.
Fret not as seasoning cast iron is a fairly easy task. Even if you have not tried seasoning cast iron cookware before, taking the right steps allows you to season like, well, a seasoned chef.
But first, let’s quickly check out a couple of reasons why seasoning cast iron is a great idea:
- It creates a non-stick surface that can help prevent food from ending up burned and also keep the surface of cast iron pans free of stuck food that requires a lot of aggressive scrubbing.
- It protects cast iron pans from rusting — cast iron may be one of the most hard-wearing materials on the face of the planet, but it is not impervious to rusting that can render pans out of it useless.
Seasoning a cast iron pan is really easy. If it’s brand new, cover the inside, sides, bottom and even the handle of your cast iron pan with a teaspoon of cooking oil. Use a kitchen paper or kitchen towel.
If your cast iron pan is old, scrub it with hot soapy water before applying oil to remove any grease and debris.
Place it upside down in the middle rack of the oven at 375°F. Let it bake there for about 45 minutes.
Don’t forget to place aluminum foil or a sheet tray on a lower rack to catch any dripping scorching hot cooking oil. After the baking time is through, allow the newly seasoned cast iron pan to cool completely inside the oven.
That’s it — you just seasoned your cast iron pan!
How often should cast iron pans be seasoned?
Cast iron pans need to be seasoned once again if food begins to stick to the surface. The same is true if they already appear dull or rusted. To prevent the need to frequently season cast iron pans, coat them with a thin layer of cooking oil after every cleaning and before every storing.
The shiny black layer that coats the surface of cast iron pans is called patina. Some people simply call it seasoning. Either way, this protective coating doesn’t last forever.
Especially if you want to enjoy nothing but the tastiest food and the most durable cookware, it’s a must that you season your cast iron pans as needed.
It’s time to season them again the moment that they lose their non-stick properties or their patina is no longer in sight. Season your cast iron pans as needed, and you’re golden!
What is the best oil for cast iron seasoning?
The best oil for seasoning cast iron pans has a high smoke point. Also referred to as the burning point, the smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to burn and produce smoke. Seasoning cast iron pans with a high smoke point oil, e.g. canola, prevents food from having a burnt taste.
Earlier, it was mentioned that just about any cooking oil or shortening can be used for cast iron seasoning.
But if you tend to use your cast iron pans for whipping up an assortment of culinary masterpieces, including delectable baked goodies, it is a good idea to season your cast iron pans with oil with a high smoke point.
This type of oil is recommended for frying and deep-frying as it can do the job without any problem.
Here’s a list of oils with the highest smoke points (400°F and higher) that you may go for:
- Almond oil
- Corn oil
- Canola oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Peanut oil
- Safflower oil
- Sesame oil
- Sunflower oil
Do you deeply love your cast iron pans and you want to make sure that you season them with only the best oil for the job? Online, there are many products for seasoning cast iron pans available.
One of the best-selling oil for seasoning cast iron pans on Amazon is Kuche Chef Cast Iron Oil.
There are two reasons why you should give it a try.
First, it’s from 100% pure canola oil.
Second, it is certified organic, which means that you can rest assured that no questionable chemicals will come into contact with your food.
Another product that you may give a try is Lodge Seasoning Spray.
It’s also canola oil, but a purchase comes bundled with a scrub brush and a silicone scraper that you can use for cleaning your cast iron pans.
But to be honest, if you are an average user of cast iron pans, just about any cooking oil or shortening that is currently in your kitchen can be used for seasoning cast iron effectively.
How to Clean Cast Iron Pans
Cast iron pans should be cleaned using mild detergent and a gentle scrubber. For removing stuck food, boil a little water for three to five minutes. Allow to cool and gently scrape. Dry thoroughly with kitchen paper or towel, and then apply a thin layer of oil before storing them.
It’s true that cast iron pans are some of the most hard-wearing pieces of cookware around. However, it doesn’t mean that you should treat them improperly. Especially when cleaning them, you should give them care.
Any mild dish soap can be used for cleaning them.
No matter which dish soap you use, always remember to avoid scrubbing or scraping the surface aggressively with the wrong scrubber, scouring pad, or brush.
Before storing, make sure that your cast iron pans are completely dry. It’s also a good idea to apply a thin layer of oil to them just to see to it that they will be out of harm’s way while not in use.
What to do if rust appears
Remove rust from problematic areas using fine steel wool. This should be done until the area goes back to raw cast iron. Clean very well with warm soapy water. If necessary, scrub once more using a gentle scouring pad or soft-bristled brush. Dry thoroughly and season properly before storing.
Just because you can see some rust doesn’t necessarily mean that you should replace your cast iron pans. What’s really nice about cast iron is that even though rust may form on it, removing it is fairly easy.
To keep rust from appearing all over again, follow proper seasoning and storage steps every single time.
Just Before You Store Cast Iron Pans
Refrain from assuming that cast iron pans can be hard to maintain.
By following the storage tips above, you can keep them around for many years and even for generations. Aside from storing them properly, it is also a must that you season cast iron pans correctly and as needed, too.
Cast iron pans are wonderful investments. Take good care of them, and they will take good care of you in the kitchen!