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Cast iron cookware newbie here. I've been told that it's okay to make soup in cast iron, but that the soup should not remain in cast iron after it's cooked, otherwise the pot will rust. But hot or not the soup remains liquid, so why would the pot only rust when the soup gets cold? Thanks!

Edit: the cast iron pot would be seasoned, not enameled.

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  • Are you talking about seasoned cast iron (where you have to heat it up with oil to create a protective layer) or enameled cast iron (usually brightly colored on the outside)?
    – Joe
    Aug 8, 2023 at 21:31
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    @Joe Seasoned cast iron. Now I edited my question to add that. Thanks. Aug 9, 2023 at 22:06

2 Answers 2

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It's actually pretty unlikely that a well-seasoned cast iron pot would rust just because you stored soup in it for 48 hours, unless the soup was highly acidic. However, there's two reasons why it's a bad idea to do anyways:

  1. The seasoning on the cast iron is polymerized oil, which tastes like burnt oil. If the soup sits in it for long periods of time, some of that burnt oil flavor will leach into the soup.
  2. This will also degrade the seasoning on the cast iron, and you'll need to re-season it.
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It isn't so much the temperature, but the duration.

Consider what you do with stubbornly dirty pots and pans - you soak them. When you leave them full of water, it works its way into the deposits, softens them and dislodges them from the metal.

The cast iron seasoning is also a kind of deposit on the pot, and not as uniform or as well-bonded as an industrially produced enamel or teflon layer. Leaving the pot soaking in a liquid will weaken the seasoning somewhat, and the water could find its way under it to the bare metal.

Once the water is under the seasoning, it will also need some time. Rust doesn't form immediately. If you're under conditions where it needs, say, 10 hours to form, that would be 20 times cooking a batch of soup, or storing one batch for a day. Re-seasoning every 20 uses is less frustrating than every time, and if you're also using the pot for other dishes in the meantime, or if you brown onions and/or meat with each batch of soup before pouring the water onto it, the seasoning might repair itself during use already, so the rust won't even form.

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