Cast-iron cookware needs cleaning after each use. Avoid dish soaps or other cleaners, and stick to boiling hot water. Use a plastic brush or pot scrubber to remove any stuck-on particles. After cleaning, coat the inside of the pot with vegetable oil, and set the cookware on a burner on low heat for 15 minutes. If the food on the cookware is too stuck to come off with vegetable oil, place the cookware on a burner over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the stuck food is turned to ash. You can then gently scrub the debris off with a scouring pad, but avoid scratching the metal. Cookware that is cleaned in this manner requires seasoning again.
Cast-iron cookware will not cook correctly if it is not properly seasoned. Seasoning the cookware prevents food from sticking and keeps the cookware from rusting. To season cast-iron cookware, cover the entire pot with a thin layer of vegetable oil or shortening. Cover the lid as well if there is one. Do not leave excess oil sitting in the pot; distribute the oil evenly with a paper towel. Place the pot on a foil-lined baking sheet, and cook it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. Stick to frying greasy foods the first few times you use new cookware to achieve a good seasoning.
Storage and Upkeep
Store the cookware and the lids separately rather than placing the lids on the pots. Do not nest cookware inside of other cookware. Cast iron requires air circulation to prevent rusting or pitting. Also avoid storing food inside of cast iron cookware or the food will take on a metallic taste and will rust the cookware. Reseason the cookware any time that food begins to stick or when you notice signs of pitting or corrosion.