Cast Iron Pan Care & Rescue
For as long as I can remember my mom has had a cast iron pan on her stove. It has produced amazing pancakes, pan-fried pork chops and all manner of casserole. I love that pan. I think it might still be the same pan from my childhood.
I currently have 3 cast iron pans, 2 frying pans and a griddle. I love them. I don’t care for them as crazy religiously as some cast-iron enthusiasts – I will NOT own a dish/pan/skillet that is not washed with soap. Soap kills germs and gets things clean, I use soap, it doesn’t ruin my pans because I dry them the right way.
This is my favorite pan, isn’t she pretty?
The first seasoning of a cast iron pan is the most important. Most cast iron these days comes pre-seasoned. Getting that patina on your pans is critical, and not everyone has the patience. Not sure what you have? An unseasoned pan is silver, a seasoned pan is black. Here’s how to care for your already seasoned pan:
- Contrary to what every other person on the planet will tell you, don’t be afraid to wash your pan with soap – soap gets things clean
- If you have some rough spots in your patina, go after it with a Brillo or steel wool – we’ll season it back up again when it’s clean
- Don’t dry your pan, place it on the stove with the burner on medium and let it heat up
- When the water evaporates, coat a paper towel with shortening and spear it all over your pan
- I only grease the bottom of the pan every 4 or 5 times I wash it, it smells bad the next time you cook in it
One of the best sources for good cast iron is a thrift store or yard sale. Sometimes these pans arent in great shape – but dont let a little rust discourage you, these pans can be saved!
- Wash your rusty pan well with soap and water and scrub as much rust off with a brillo or steel wool as you can
- Heat up your pan a bit and pour in some vegetable or olive oil and a good 3 or 4 T of kosher salt, use your paper towel or newspaper to scrub around the pan and really work on those rusty spots – wipe out all the yuck with a clean paper towel
- Place in a 300 degree oven until it looks nearly dry
- Pull it back out and smear on a layer of oil – I use shortening, you want a high smoke-point oil like vegetable, coconut, or even bacon grease.
- Place back in the 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, pull out and grease again
- Back in the oven for 30 more minutes at 300 degrees
- If your pan was super nasty, you might do this a few more times.
- Remember – dry on a burner and coat with oil or shortening after every use.