Cast iron cookware has long been favored for the many benefits it provides. One trick to this long-lasting durability is “seasoning” the pans before use. If not properly seasoned, the cookware can become rusted or dirty and difficult to clean. Mother Earth News shared some tips on cleaning cast iron cookware and restoring it to working condition.
The older cast iron pans are the best value, if you can find them. Sometimes they can be found for reasonable prices at yard sales and second hand shops. If you find one that shows signs of rust, don’t pass it up. Buy that pan and take it home. Then clean it following these simple instructions.
Start by removing any rust with steel wool, not the commercially made soaped pads. Another option is to have the rust sand blasted off at a local metal shop. After the rust is removed, bake the piece in the oven or heat it over a grill or wood fire to remove any crust. You may have to do this several times to get all the crust off. Be warned this process can produce some smoke so you may want to choose the outdoor options. Once the crust is gone, the pan is ready for seasoning.
To season a cast iron pan, coat the interior with your favorite cooking oil. Line the bottom of your oven with foil to catch the drippings and place the pan upside down on the rack. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake it for one to two hours. Then turn the oven off. Do not open the door. Leave the pan in the oven and allow it cool in there. Watch the video for further instructions.
Well-seasoned cookware allows even heating and retains heat well.
The seasoning process allows the pores in the metal to fill with carbon particles from the oil. The effect when finished is a non-stick surface. The effect is enhanced with each subsequent use. Simply re-oil the piece after each use. Your cast iron cookware will last for decades if cared for properly.