I am a cast iron super fan. I was raised on it and it's the first thing I bought when I grew up.
Here is my lot: One Dutch oven with a lid, one 16 inch skillet, two 10 inch skillets, 2 smaller sized skillets that I rarely use, and one tea pot that I use constantly. Besides this group of pots and pans I only use a big steel soup pot and a crepe pan (for everything that's not fussy baking). Though I more often bake in the cast iron than anything else.
Most of my cast iron is the Lodge brand and I did read their instructions for the care of the pans. But I don't follow all of them (probably not even close). I use cast iron because it's super versatile and pretty much indestructible. And in my opinion, it's gotten a bad rap for being either unsanitary or difficult to care for. When I'm worried about germs, I use soap. And all I do to care for them is use oil or butter or both as often as possible when I cook (which I do anyways!). If not, I grease them up a little before hanging them up. And that's it!
Cast iron pans and pots can be used when browning, baking, broiling, roasting, grilling...you name it. On the stove, in the oven, over a campfire, in the camp fire. Thia food, Indian food, fried food, pancakes, soups, stews, cakes, sauces. I could go on. For pages.
Here's my best loved! I use this tea pot every single day, usually twice. I am a hard core tea addict and am out stomping for its' health benefits whenever I'm not busy doing something else.
Here's a few tips:
When you buy new cast iron (still gray), grease up the whole pan with olive oil (or flax seed oil is said to be best) and put it upside down in the oven with something under it to catch drips. Crank the oven up to 425F and bake it for an hour. Let it cool mostly then give it a good rub with paper towel.
Cook with a good amount of fat in the pan when they're new. Don't wash with soap unless you really need to. The only time I use soap is when I make crispy salmon or taco meat and maybe chili. Those flavors tend to linger. Besides that, I rarely need soap. Keeping the pans a little greasy is a good idea. That's what they call "seasoning" and you will end up with a beautiful black non-stick pan in no time.
I store mine hanging from hooks on a wall. I never towel dry them, though they say to or they'll rust. Hanging them works for me. Dry them if they're being stored in a cupboard.
If your pans rust up and it can't just be wiped off with a damp towel, scrub the spot with a mix of coarse salt and oil. Or if they're rusted super badly, you can use sand paper or steel wool.
One of the best things about using cast iron pans is how easy they move from the burner to the oven. I do this all the time! It makes for good food. One of the worst things about cast iron is the handles and bottoms stay really hot for a while. I've burned not only my hand but counters, floors, rugs, no kidding.
Here's my all time favorite recipe that relies on cast iron: Flying Dutchmans. Though I have many more up my sleeve - check in next week for another of my favorite uses for this crazy awesome cookware!
Enjoy your day!