Cast iron cookware is the workhorse of the kitchen. But, cast iron is much more to many people. Cast iron is generally considered a prized possession or a family heirloom. No other cookware lasts as long as cast iron, which can last generations. So, if you have your favorite skillet in your kitchen, why not use it as a decorative piece? After all, to many, their cast iron is a badge of honor that deserves to be shown off.
Due to its heaviness, many people wonder how to store cast iron properly. There are many options based on functionality and aesthetics. Of course, the amount of cast iron cookware one has, plays a pivotal role in how one stores their cast iron. Cast iron is heavy and this should be kept in mind when deciding which storage idea is best.
After food is cooked in cast iron, the piece needs to be cleaned and thoroughly dried. After the cast iron is dried, a paper towel should be placed in the cast iron pan to prevent scratches and other potential damage. The exception to this is if the piece is to be hung on a rack or a wall. Cast iron should not be stored near a dishwasher or an area with water or steam as this will cause the cast iron to rust. There are numerous places and ways to store cast iron doubling as decorative pieces. Below are some ideas for the best places to store cast iron, along with answers to frequently asked questions about cast iron storage.
How To Prepare a Cast Iron Pan For Storage
Preparing cast iron for storage is a straightforward process. The top concern is rusting. Make sure the cast iron is dry and oiled before storage. If the cast iron is not going to be hung for storage, then it is recommended to place a paper towel inside the cast iron to prevent scratching if other cast iron is to be stacked inside it. Below is a list of the steps in preparing cast iron for storage.
- If the cast iron has been recently used, wash the cast iron completely and make sure all the food debris is removed.
- Thoroughly dry the cast iron with a towel or paper towel. The cast iron can even be heated a bit to ensure it is completely free of moisture.
- Add a teaspoon of oil and rub it on the entire surface with a paper towel, handle and bottom included
- Season the cast iron ( this is a personal preference, this step can be skipped if the cast iron is already well seasoned)
- If the cast iron has been seasoned, allow the cast iron to cool all the way before storing
- Once the cast iron is cooled, either hang it for storage or stack it in a dry area, away from the dishwasher.
- If the cast iron is to be stored without hanging up, then it needs to be wrapped in paper towels. The paper towels prevent scratching and also help to absorb any unwanted moisture.
Best Places For Storing Cast Iron Skillets
1. Utilitarian Rack
A utilitarian rack is a great way to show off your prized cast iron collection. These racks are designed for commercial use but are easily convertible to a residential kitchen. Made from stainless steel, these racks have adjustable hooks so that the cast iron can be arranged in different ways. An added benefit of hanging your pieces on the wall is that they are stored away from any moisture, which causes rust and can ruin the seasoning on your cookware.
2. Cast Iron Wall
A cast iron wall is a cool idea that adds a country style to your kitchen. The wall is constructed from old barn wood that is screwed into the sheetrock. The cast iron can be hung from plain screws or hooks. This not only gives the heavy cast iron a secure place to hang from but more boards can also be added as you grow your collection. This will add character to your kitchen and impress any dinner guests that come over.
3. Storage Tower
The storage tower is a modern idea that is perfect for smaller spaces. The storage tower is black and rests on the floor. It can hold up to five cast iron skillets of all sizes and the shelves are adjustable. The frame of the tower is round and fits into most corners or can be used as a centerpiece. The nice thing about the tower is that it adds a touch of chicness to the rustic look of the cast iron cookware.
4. Rustic Shelves
Rustic shelves are a great idea to store your cast iron. The shelves look especially great on brick walls. The shelves can be hung above the prep or cooking area and provide you with easy accessibility to the cookware. Beyond functionality, the shelves also provide additional decorative space for cookbooks or other kitchen tools. Another benefit of using shelves to store your cast iron is that they are easily interchangeable. The shelves are hung on brackets. To change the shelf, simply pull them off the hangars and replace them with a new style.
5. Old Barn Wood and S Hooks
A lot of these storage ideas revolve around old barn wood. The reason is that old, rustic wood lends an aesthetic appeal to the rustic cast iron pieces. However, the wood choice is a personal preference. For instance, beechwood looks fabulous as a backdrop to cast iron. You can mount a single piece of wood horizontally and attach a piece of black iron piping. Attach “S” hooks and hang the cast iron from the hooks. This idea blends simplicity with functionality and makes for a beautiful addition to any kitchen.
6. Countertop Organizer
For those with limited space or simply prefer a countertop option, this is the best pick. The countertop organizer is a small rack that can store up to 5 skillets on the countertop. This rack can be used either vertically or horizontally and is perfect when one needs to grab a skillet fast. The organizer also works great in the pantry, as well. The countertop organizer is the perfect kitchen companion for RV campers as they take up minimal space and frees up precious cabinet space.
7. Magnetic Hanger
A sleek option to store your cast iron is by using magnetic hangers. The hangers use a wooden block with a magnet inserted into each one which holds your cast iron in place. These hangers include all the necessary hardware which makes installation a breeze. Using a stud finder, find the stud in the wall, mount the screw, and hang the cast iron. This hanger is a great idea if you have a vintage piece to display.
8. Dutch Oven Storage Protectors
The above-mentioned ideas are primarily for cast iron skillets. What about dutch ovens? Brand new dutch ovens come with a liner to protect the oven from being chipped by the lid. These rubber pieces protect the fragile enamel coating of the dutch oven from chipping by coming into contact with the lid. If you are storing an enamel dutch oven, these are a must. These simple protectors ensure the longevity of your dutch oven and prevent flaking.
9. Stackable Spacers
If stacking cast iron is your best option, it is best to have a layer of protection in between the skillets. If cast iron is stacked into one another without a layer of protection, the enamel can chip or scratch and any oily residue left on a skillet are easily transferable. To prevent this, you can place a paper towel or cloth towel in between the skillets. Or, you can purchase corkboards specifically designed for stackable cast iron. The corkboards are generally sold in a set of three different sizes.
10. Cast Iron Storage Bags
Cast iron storage bags are a clever way to store cast iron. There are a wide array of manufacturers who seal these storage bags. These bags provide a safe and convenient way to store your cast iron and most are fitted with a handle for easy transportation. These bags protect the cast iron from moisture and scratching caused by stacking cast iron. These are perfect for camping trips where the cast iron can be damaged during travel.
11. Pallet Wall
A pallet wall is similar to using an old barn wood plank to hang your pieces on. Except the pallet wall utilizes floor-to-ceiling space. This decorative wall can be as wide or narrow as you want. A good tip is to use this idea as an accent wall in a small spot. For instance, if there is a small space between your refrigerator and doorway, this pallet wall is an attractive design option.
An added benefit to the pallet wall is that your cast iron will always be readily available. Your cast iron will also be hung up in a dry environment which protects the cast iron from rusting. Attach the planks to your existing wall and hang your cookware from the planks. This look adds charm to your kitchen and allows you to show off your favorite pieces.
12. Cast Iron Storage Cabinet
For those with a larger space and a large collection of cast iron cookware, the cast iron storage cabinet is an ideal place to store cast iron. The cabinet looks great placed on top of stone or in front of a brick wall. The cabinet consists of three panels: two sides and the top. The cast iron is hung from a metal rod placed at the top of the interior cabinet.
If the cabinet has a wide top, additional cast iron skillets can be stacked here as well. You can also add decorative pieces or cookbooks on top to add to the look. The side walls offer additional space to hang your cast iron on using hooks. If you set the cabinet on a fireplace hearth, you can place dutch ovens on the hearth to complete the rustic look.
How To Use Stored Cast Iron
Do not use stored cast iron right away. First, look the cast iron over for signs of damage, rusting, or dust. If the price is rusty, remove the rust following the steps found here.
If the cast iron is free from rust but is dusty, simply wipe away the dust with a paper towel or towel.
If the cast iron has not been stored long, this is generally not an issue. The longer cast iron has been stored, the more preparation is required before use. If the cast iron has been stored for a long time but is free from rust, it is a good idea to wipe it clean and reseason it using the oven method. However, the cast iron does not need to be seasoned for the whole hour. About 20 minutes will suffice.
The point in reseasoning the cast iron is to dry out any residual dust and to heat up the pores in the metal to absorb the oil. This way, the pan is lubricated and non-stick before it is used. Once the cast iron is heated, check it for signs of hot pots. If there are hot spots, reseason it before its first use.
If the cast iron has not been stored properly, i.e. there is rusting or scratches, then it needs to be stripped of its original seasoning and reseasoned properly before its first use. Failure to do this will cause uneven heating and sticking. Also, the food prepared in it the first time can have a tainted flavor. To prevent this, it is a good idea to check on the skillet every few days after storing it to see if it has any signs of improper storage. This way, the problems can be handled before they get out of control.
Cast Iron Storage FAQs
Can you store cast iron in a plastic bag?
Yes. If the cast iron is dried completely, storing them in a plastic bag will prevent excess moisture from seeping in and rusting the cast iron. Place crumpled paper towels in the dry cast iron and place it in a plastic bag with an airtight seal.
Can you store cast iron in the garage or in a shed?
It is not recommended due to the moisture content of the ambient air. However, cast iron can be stored in these environments so long as they are completely dry and stored either in a plastic bag or a cast iron storage bag. It is a good idea to check the cat iron after a few days to ensure that the elements are not causing damage to the cast iron.
Can you store your cast iron skillet in the oven?
Ensure the cast iron is completely dry and seasoned. Wrap the cast iron in paper towels and store in the oven. This is possibly the easiest and most convenient place to store cast iron. However, if you go to preheat the oven for a dish that doesn’t call for cast iron, make sure you remember to remove the cast iron so that the paper towels do not catch fire.
Should you oil cast iron before storing them?
Oil protects the cast iron from rusting. Some prefer to simply wipe the cast iron down with oil before storage. Others prefer to season cat iron before storing it. This is a personal preference. Either way, cast iron has to be lubricated before storing to prevent rusting.
My name is Jason Phillips and I cooked for many years, primarily aboard Merchant Marine vessels and in fast-paced commercial kitchens. My passion for culinary arts led me to attend a culinary arts academy in 2019 where the instructor piqued my interest in food and beverage writing.