Last month I acquired some great pieces of cast iron cookware. I traded the old yellowish-green stove that came in the house for the two larger pieces and my uncle gave me the two smaller pieces while I was in Indiana for Grandpa’s funeral (both pieces were Grandpa’s!). I own one other dutch oven that I got at a thrift store for $15 and I’ve been on the hunt for more for a few years. It was crazy that within a few weeks I had just about all the cast iron I could want (I still dream of 2 more specific pieces). All four pieces were older and needed some maintenance, so I thought I’d share how to clean and reseason cast iron with you.
First off, let’s start with my two-cents on why cast iron is something everyone should own. It is awesome!
I blogged about my hate of Teflon a few years ago. The stuff is nasty and has no business being near your food.
*side tangent* I just read an article in Mother Earth News about not using “heavy duty” light bulbs in your chicken coop (or any other poultry/fowl housing). The bulbs are coated in Teflon to make them shatter-resistant. The Teflon on the bulb, when heated via a turned on light bulb, actually killed multiple chickens for lots of different people! Teflon releases crazy chemicals when heated that kill birds! If you can’t tell, this is a total soapbox for me, but knowledge is power in my opinion. If it kills chickens, it can’t be good for you to cook with…
So now that you don’t want Teflon or “nonstick” pans, you don’t have a lot of options left when it comes to cooking and baking. Stoneware, stainless steel, and cast iron are some of your best choices.
Cast iron is awesome because it is nonstick by nature, is very durable, and holds heat evenly and super well. It is a great option for frying foods because it keeps the oil heated evenly and consistently (if you are going to fry something, I’d make these donuts). I also love that you can start on the stove-top and move it into the oven. I like to get the cast iron skillet really hot, sear my chicken legs on all sides, and then add whatever (BBQ, lemon…) and have them finish cooking in the oven. Cast iron cookware has been around for hundreds of years and is making a big comeback! Get on the trendy wagon and get some of your own.
Chances are good that you’ll buy old or used pieces, dig some out of your grandma’s shed, or find some cast iron treasure at a yard sale. You definitely need to know how to clean and reseason cast iron before use.
How to clean and reseason cast iron
1. Get your hands on some beautiful cast iron pieces:
2. Wash them in hot soapy water. If they are rusty or coarse use a copper or untreated steel wool pad to really scrub them. You can scrub inside and out. The goal is to remove any old oil, sticky spots, or general “crud”. Don’t fear the scrub, because reseasoning cast iron is next. Rinse very well and then dry with paper towels.
3. Evenly coat the inside and outside of the pan with vegetable oil using a paper towel.
4. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and place the pan upside down in the hot oven. You can line the bottom of the oven with foil to catch any oil drips if you like. Let the pan bake for one hour. Expect it to be pretty smoky. 🙂 After one hour, turn off the oven and let the pan stay in the warm oven until it has cooled (that will take a few hours).
5. Your cast iron is now clean, seasoned and ready to use.
You do this long procedure if you are really deep cleaning your pans. You want to do this if you are buying old pans or if you haven’t used your pan in a few years. The leftover oil in the pores goes rancid after a while and will make your food taste nasty, even if it isn’t rusty looking. If it smells bad then you should do this.
For general cleaning I like to use hot water and a scraper (I have a little plastic scraper that came with my pizza stone and I use it all of the time on my cast iron) or a copper scrubber or untreated steel wool pad. I know people will tell you to NEVER use soap on your cast iron, but I definitely do. When I have used the pan to fry or had really greasy chicken legs cooking in it, I will use a drop of dish soap to cut the grease and it works great. Just be sure to rinse well. I towel dry my pans and will rub them with a bit of oil if they are starting to look dull in color (maybe once a month/every 3 months). They are really low maintenance once you do your initial deep clean.
Info/method from Woman’s Day
There you have it! My love of cast iron, why Teflon is awful, and how to clean and reseason cast iron. I’m planning my future kitchen so that I can hang and showcase all of my cast iron pieces because they are just so pretty!