Cast Iron Cleaning


Traditional cast-iron skillets don’t emerge from the box with a nonstick surface. That comes with seasoning, or coating the skillet with cooking oil and baking it in a 350° F oven for an hour. It won’t take on that shiny black patina just yet, but once you dry it with paper towels, it will be ready to use. You’ll reinforce the nonstick coating every time you heat oil in the skillet, and you can hasten the process by seasoning as often as you like. Or you can forget seasoning and go with Lodge Logic (available at hardware and cookware stores), a line of preseasoned skillets from Lodge Manufacturing, the oldest U.S. maker of cast-iron cookware.


A cast-iron skillet isn’t ideal for a set-aside-to-soak sort of person. For best results, rinse the pan with hot water immediately after cooking. If you need to remove burned-on food, scrub with a mild abrasive, like coarse salt, and a nonmetal brush to  preserve the nonstick surface; you can also use a few drops of a mild dishwashing soap every once in a while. If the pan gets a sticky coating or develops rust over time, scrub it with steel wool and reseason it. To prevent rust, dry the skillet thoroughly and lightly coat the cooking surface with cooking oil. Cover with a paper towel to protect it from dust.


  • Although everything from Dutch ovens to cactus-shaped cornbread pans comes in cast iron, nothing is more versatile than a basic skillet. Either a 10- or 12-inch will do.
  • There’s only one thing you shouldn’t attempt in cast-iron cookware: boiling water, which will cause the pan to rust.
  • Cast iron takes longer to warm than other surfaces but retains heat remarkably well and diffuses it evenly.
  • Cast iron remains hot long after you remove it from the stove. As a reminder to be careful, drape a thick towel or a mitt over the handle.
  • To avoid getting smudges on all your kitchen towels, designate one to use exclusively for drying your cast-iron skillet.
  • Cooking in cast iron increases the iron content in food. The longer the food is in contact with the skillet, the more it absorbs.

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Dutch Oven Basic Heat Source

Dutch Oven Basics

Food that requires baking such as biscuits, breads and cakes, needs most of the heat on the top.  Coals should be placed under the oven and on the lid at a 1 to 3 ratio with more on the lid.  For roasting, the heat should be equal with the same number of coals on top as underneath.  For frying, boiling, simmering and stewing, heat should come from the bottom only.  To keep biscuits and other baked food from burning on the bottom, remove the bottom heat after two-thirds of the total cooking time.

To share heat and serve dishes that are similar in cooking time, ovens can be stacked.  This technique requires careful watching to ensure that the bottom oven does not overcook.  [singlepic id=6 w=320 h=240 float=]

Depending on the size of the Dutch oven, each briquette adds between 10 and 20 degrees of heat.  Placement of briquettes is also important, because heat is more evenly distributed if placed in a circular pattern on the bottom and in a checkerboard fashion on the lid.  [singlepic id=5 w=320 h=240 float=]

Remember that it is much easier to raise the heat in a cast-iron oven than to lower the temperature.  Also, temperatures inside the oven will vary according to altitude.  Rotating the oven every ten minutes will also help distribute the heat in a more uniform way.  The lid can also be rotated a third of a turn in the opposite direction every ten minutes.

Basic Briquette Temperature Control Guidelines

Oven Size           Number of Briquettes on Top            Number of Briquettes on Bottom

10 inch                               10 to 12                                                                  8 to 10

12 inch                                12 to 14                                                                10 to 12

14 inch                                14 to 16                                                                12 to 14

16 inch                                16 to 18                                                                14 to 16