Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In Which I Wax Poetic About My Cast Iron

I love me cast iron skillet
I can hardly wait to fill it,
With bacon and eggs or blueberry buckles,
Clean-up's a breeze you won't scrape your knuckles
So black and shiny, heavy and stout
My Cast Iron I will not be without!!

I LOVE my cast iron, to me it its the epitome of country self-sufficient living.  In the movies or in books every pioneer woman has cast iron.  It's strong and heavy, you can drop it, leave it out in the weather and generally abuse it and it will still work really hard for you!!  Food just tastes better in cast iron.  Although there are a few things that don't, like shrimp and anything with tomatoes, they tend to taste like metal.  When you cook in cast iron you even get a bit of iron in you which is good for your blood!
So I thought I would give you a bit of a tutorial about caring for and resurrecting cast iron. 
The big skillet I got at a yard sale for $2, it is really rusty, it was a shape and size I didn't have so I picked it up.  The other pieces are ones that didn't get dried properly, so they rusted, but not to worry cast iron is very forgiving.  That is Ferrans little soldier standing guard over the process!

When you have a rusty pan you need to scour all the rust and grungies out of it, I use salt and a bit of dish soap, you could use sand or sugar.  Scrub until nothing seems to be coming loose.  Rinse with hot water and take a good look, any flakes of old food or rust need to be gone. 
This is how you properly dry cast iron, on the stove top with a flame, you heat it until all the water is evaporated, that way you don't miss a drop of water, it will rust! The pans will stay very hot for a loonngg time, do not grab them, I speak from experience!!  I just let them sit all night.  But since we were seasoning these I let them cool abit then rubbed them down with oil.  I prefer to use lard or vegetable shortening, but I was out of both, so I used olive oil.

Wipe them down all over inside and out with oil, sop up any extra until there is a nice film of oil over the whole pan, I don't worry about the handle.

Then you put them in your oven, yes my oven is dirty, I don't think my mother would be very proud!  "Cook" them for a couple of hours at 250. Then turn off the oven and let them set until morning or until they are totally cool.
Ta Da!!!  All better, no more rust!  The yard sale skillet is on the left, it was a mess but it came back to life rather well.  If you get an old rusty relic, after you season it, be sure to use it to cook your greasiest food, bacon, sausage ect. it will get a nicer finish on it faster that way.  Alot of folks don't "wash" their cast iron just wipe it down, I wash mine in hot soapy water, then dry on the stove. If they look "dry" I put a bit of shortening on them and stick them on the stack with the rest!!

Not bad for $2!!  So go ahead and get out your cast iron pans, if you don't have any start looking at yard sales and antique shops!
Oh I forgot to tell you, cast iron, when properly seasoned is very non-stick, just use  abit of oil or butter and your food will slip out nicely!  Besides teflon is really bad for you! 
Have a great day, if you have any questions let me know I'll  do my best to answer them!


  1. Thank-you, very informative!

  2. My Mom just did this with our pans yesterday! They're nice and clean now. :)

  3. Kate,
    I'm glad you got your cast iron up and working! May you have many great meals from them!

  4. Grandma would be so proud..she used cast iron always and she cleaned same way except if really rusty and dirty she sould soak in ammonia overnight which worked with little elbow grease! but the rest of procedures the same great minds work the same Misty, she loved following your blog

  5. Jeannie,
    Thanks so much, it is amazing what a little elbow grease will do. Thank you for the kind email you sent to Ileigh. Have a great day!

  6. I like the cast iron skillet poem. I love my cast iron also!