Cast Iron Care and Rescue Tips

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?

Cast Iron Care and Rescue Tips

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.