Mara Reid Rogers, author of "Cooking in Cast Iron," gives these tips on how to care for cast-iron cookware. She says although these pieces need little care other than seasoning, cooks who are not familiar with the process may believe that it is a difficult and / or time consuming task.
Seasoning. "All new cast-iron cookware must be seasoned prior to use. And periodically, you may want to re-season it. First, peel off and discard any labels. Wash thoroughly with mild dishwashing liquid, rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel.
"Next, spray or use a paper towel to wipe a thin, even layer of vegetable oil cooking spray (with no flavorings or salt added), vegetable oil, or vegetable shortening over the entire surface" of the pan, rubbing it in, and wiping away any excess.
"Line the bottom of the oven with foil to catch any drips and preheat to 350 degrees. Place the utensil upside down to prevent the oil from building up inside the cookware on the center oven rack and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour to season. Turn off heat and let utensil cool naturally in the oven to room temperature.
"Remove from oven and wipe off any excess oil with a paper towel. The cookware is now ready to use or store for future use."
Cleaning. "After each use, you must clean, wash, dry and re-rub with fat for proper care. Never put cast-iron cookware in the dishwasher; it must be hand washed. Never scour with abrasive detergents; dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel. Never soak or allow to air dry, or the cast-iron will rust.
Storing. "Place clean, dry paper towel flat on the inside of the cookware to absorb any moisture and help prevent rust and store in a dry place. Always store with the tops or lids off so moisture won't collect inside."
Rust spots. "All unseasoned utensils will rust. Rust spots, stuck-on food, a metallic taste or discolored foods are signals of inadequate or improper seasoning or may result from cooking highly acidic foods. If this occurs, wash thoroughly and re-season."