A cast iron pot or pan is one of those cooking utensils where if you buy a good one in the beginning, you’ll only need the one, and you’ll use it all the time. They are a kitchen essential, and once you use one you won’t go back to your flimsy frypan or saucepans.
The reason they are so good is that the cast iron retains heat, so not only will your meal cook faster and with less energy, it will stay warm longer if you’re cooking in advance or serving straight from the pot or pan.
Amazingly, cooking in cast iron can also have health benefits. If your iron levels are low, cooking in a cast iron pot or pan can actually give your food an iron boost as the iron leeches out of the pan.
With all the benefits, there is just one thing that often turns people off using cast iron to cook with – it can be rather difficult to clean! If you clean and season your cast iron pan properly, it will be naturally non-stick too, so you won’t even need that flimsy teflon coated pan!
Here’s how to do it:
Pour some salt into your pan, and set it over a high heat. Afterwards, you should simply be able to wipe out the charred gunk with a cloth or some paper towels. The salt is abrasive enough to give the pan a good scrub, without removing any of the seasonings.
Once it’s washed, you need to make sure any moisture is removed to prevent rust. The best way to do that is, after drying with a tea towel, set it over a high heat to let any excess water evaporate. Once that’s done, it’s time to season.
Add some unsaturated cooking oil, like canola or vegetable, and rub it lightly all over. Buff away any excess with some paper towel before you put it away – you don’t want it to look greasy.
And you’re done! If you take care of your cast iron pan, it will last you many years to come.
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.