_Cleaning Cast Iron

Serves: 5



If there is such a thing as 'The Great Debate' among cast iron cooking aficionados, it is whether to use soap when cleaning a Dutch oven or other piece of cast iron cookware. One school of thought says that for no other reason than sanitation one should use hot soapy water when cleaning cast iron cookware. In the product literature one gets with each new Lodge Dutch oven it says it's OK to use a mild dish detergent to clean the oven. Since they don't define "mild" I take that to mean any liquid dish soap on the market because the last time I checked my grocery store I couldn't find any dish detergent labeled "harsh".

As for me I belong to the school that doesn't use soap on Dutch ovens or any other cast iron cookware. Why? I guess it is because it was the way I was raised. Dad and Mom got by with just hot water and what had worked many years for them seemed to work well for me as well. I.e. if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it! The transition to a professional of sorts in the culinary field forced me to examine the logic behind my practice of not using soap to clean my DO's. In essence it boiled down to two factors. As I see it every time a piece of cast iron cookware is used, it's heated beyond the point that most pathogens can survive. Call it a sterilizing process if you want, but every time you place the DO on a camp stove or set it in a firepan with hot charcoal briquets top and bottom, my guess is any critters on the cooking surface of the DO that could cause problems end up going to where ever it is they go when they die. So, unless someone used a piece of cast iron as a serving dish rather than cooking in it I don't see a problem with only using hot water to clean cast iron cookware! A second consideration is that by definition soap removes food residue and that affects the seasoning on cast iron cookware. Using soap won't entirely remove the seasoning on a DO unless a person vigorously scrubbed it with an abrasive pad but it does degrade the seasoning.

Like many other situations one encounters being a Dutch oven cook, I consider it a matter of personal preference as to how one cares for their cast iron cookware. In the absence of conclusive proof that not washing my iron DO's with hot soapy water could lead to food poisoning, I'll keep doing what's worked for me for the last thirty years.

This _Cleaning Cast Iron recipe is from the Cee Dub's Ethnic & Regional Dutch Oven Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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