How to prepare and use cast iron cookware

Cast iron cookware heats slowly and evenly, and holds heat well. It is ideal for fried foods, stews, and soups. But it rusts easily, so a new pot or pan should be seasoned before use, even though labeled “preseasoned.” Scrub it thoroughly; coat the inside thinly and evenly with melted, unsalted shortening or salad oil (not olive oil, which may leave a taste). Set the pot in a 325 to 350F oven for 2 hours. When it is cool, wipe off the excess oil, rinse the pot, and dry it on a burner set at low heat.

After each use, wipe cast iron with a damp cloth or paper towel. Dry it immediately. If charred food adheres to it, scour it with coarse dry salt. To remove caked-on food or rust, scour in soapy water; rinse, dry, and reseason.

Store cast iron cookware in a dry place, leaving the lids off to allow trapped moisture to escape; place paper towels between stacked pots. Do not store food in cast iron.