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Storing cast iron: Best Practices

June 12, 2020 6 min read

Storing cast iron: Best Practices

We love cast iron cookware. It's strong, it's dependable, and it's a great addition to your kitchen. Chefs have been cooking with cast iron for centuries, and we love to continue that tradition!

Cast iron does need a little care and attention for it to last but treat your cast iron well, and it can last longer than a lifetime. Once you figure out how to properly season your cast iron, storing cast iron properly is naturally the next step in learning to care for your cast iron!

What's the best way to store cast iron?

Any budding chef needs a solid selection of cast iron cookware in their kitchen. Pans, skillets, griddles, or woks. Cast iron comes in a fantastic array of shapes and sizes to suit all your cookery needs.

But cast iron cookware is heavy and bulky, so you need to think about where you're going to be storing it. Proper cast iron storage should keep your cookware in top shape for your next cooking session; it should stop it from rusting and exponentially prolong its lifespan!

Where exactly you store your cast iron will depend on your kitchen layout, the space you have available, and how much cooking equipment you need to keep safe. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep cast iron in a cool and dry place
  • Only store cast iron when it's clean and absolutely dry (this stops pans from attracting rust)
  • Wrap your cast iron in paper towels to protect them

Where should I store my cast iron cookware?

Always try and create a dedicated storage space for your cast iron. That way, you know you have a safe, secure, and dry spot for it to be kept when it's not being cooked with.

Here are a few of our top cast iron storage ideas:

1. A dry cabinet

Cabinets and cupboards are the most obvious choice when considering how to store cast iron. Every kitchen has them, and as long as it's not directly next to or underneath the sink, it should be dry enough to store cast iron cookware.

Cabinets need to be large enough to hold your cast iron, which is usually quite bulky. The shelving units need to be strong enough to support the weight of the cast iron if you have multiple shelves. This is especially vital if you plan on storing several pieces of cast iron cookware.

Before you put your skillets and pans in the cupboard, though, it's good practice to check that there are no leaks and that it isn't damp (you can give the cabinet shelves a quick clean too, before storing your cast iron away!).

2. Stovetops

If you're running out of cupboard space or if your pans are too large and bulky to sit on the shelves, then the most accessible place to store your cast iron cooking gear is on the stovetop.

This works particularly well if you are regularly using your cast iron cookware, but if you only use it on occasion, it could start to get in the way. Make sure the stovetop is kept clean and dry.

3. On the wall

A great custom-made alternative to cupboards and stovetops is to install hooks on the wall, from where you can hang your cast iron pots and pans. The wall hooks need to be sturdy and well embedded, as they have a lot of weight to handle in the long run.

Again, keep the hooks away from the sink so there's no chance they can get caught in the splash zone. Hooks are great for organizing your cast iron cookware if you have several items, while hooks will also keep your cast iron within easy reach when you need it for cooking up your next meal.

4. In the oven

We are often asked "Can I store my cast iron in the oven?" YES! This can be one of the best cast iron storage solutions if you're running out of space elsewhere. It can be particularly convenient if you find that you often cook casseroles in the oven with your cast iron skillets too.

The oven is one of the driest places in your kitchen, just remember to remove your cast iron when you are preheating your oven.

Paper towels

If you're storing your cast iron in the oven, in cabinets or cupboards, or even just on the counter or stovetop, then you can keep it clean and dry by wrapping it up in paper towels.

This is an excellent tip if you're storing several pieces of cast iron on top of one another, as the paper towels really help to protect the surface of the pots and pans from scratches.

Don't store food in cast iron pans

When you're storing you're cast iron cookware, it's really not a good idea to store it with any food. If you've cooked up a casserole or stew, it can be tempting to leave the leftovers in the pan and place it in the oven or even the fridge for later.

We don't recommend this. Instead, move any leftovers into a more suitable container. Certain foods can actually start to react with the cast iron, and we can tell you, it won't taste great. Leftover food can attract more moisture too, and ultimately lead to rusting.

Only store clean and dry cast iron!

The most important point we want you to take away from today's article, is that cast iron must be clean, and it must be bone dry before you store it away.

If cast iron is wet or damp or stored in a moisture-rich environment (under the sink, for instance), it can quickly attract rust. Long term, this isn't good, and it makes your life a lot more difficult the next time you need to cook with your cast iron skillet!

Before you stash away your cast iron, make sure that it's been thoroughly cleaned, then make sure you've dried it properly.

How do you store a cast iron skillet for a long time period?

You might find that you need to keep your cast iron stored away for a long period of time. You might be going on holiday for a few weeks, or you might find you're not using it as much as you once did and don't need it so close to hand.

The best place for cast iron storing in the long term is a safe and secure cupboard. As we've already pointed out, just make sure it's completely dry and free of damp or moisture.

Before long term storage, it's a good idea to give your cookware a good long clean. Scrub off the seasoning and any residue and leave it to dry through. Wrap the cast iron in paper towels and then store them away only when they are absolutely dry.

How do you keep a cast iron skillet from rusting?

When you're storing your cast iron, you really don't want it to rust. While it isn't the end of the world, if it does, it will take a lot of effort when you have to clean the rust off. While rust isn't dangerous, it doesn't exactly add to the flavor of the meal you're cooking.

We can't stress enough how incredibly important it is to keep your cast iron pans dry, because this is the best way to prevent rusting in the first place. If rust does start to form, it will need to be removed as soon as possible.

Removing rust:

  1. Scour and scrub the rusty areas with steel wool. Don't use soap or detergent, just warm water.
  2. Once you've scrubbed off all the rust, you need to dry the cast iron.
  3. When you're satisfied that it's totally dry, you need to season the pan. The real way how to keep cast iron from rusting is to make sure it always stays well-seasoned.

It's essential to learn how to keep cast iron seasoned when you're regularly cooking with cast iron. Seasoning creates a non-stick surface and forms a natural layer of protection against rust. You can season you're cast iron after cleaning by rubbing the cooking surface with a thin layer of oil before placing the pan face down in an oven. Bake the cast iron at 375°F for one hour, then let it cool naturally inside the oven.

Regular seasoning is vital for the long term health of your cast iron. You will need to repeat the seasoning process if food starts to stick to the pan when you're cooking or if you see apparent rusting.

If you're storing your cast iron cookware in the long term, you don't need to store it seasoned. Clean off the seasoning, wrap in paper towels, and then re-season it again when you next need to cook with it. It shouldn't attract rust if you store it in a dry location.

Now you know how to store away your favorite cast iron cookware when you're not using them in the kitchen. Be sure to hang on to this post so you can reach it each time you are wondering what the best practice for storing cast iron are.

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