Thursday, November 21, 2013

how to restore a cast iron pan

This past Tuesday I volunteered to bring cornbread dressing to my son's School Thanksgiving Feast.  Confession.  I have never made my grandma's cornbread dressing.  Another confession.  I am a Texan and I do not cook southern food (Cajun, at times, but southern, hardly ever.)    I can't believe I just put that out there.  So I called my mom for the recipe and fished my cast iron pan out of the cabinet.

There it was-hardly used, never abused, just neglected and sticky.  Why was my pan so darn sticky?  Oh, it probably was the copious amounts of oil I used when I tried to season it.  Oi!  What is a southern, non-southern cook to do?

With a bit of research and faith in a lot of strangers I tried my own little method of restoring my sticky, tacky cast iron pan.  This method can also be used to restore rusty pans as well.

Scrub.  This is not the time to use your gentle cloth rags or your semi-scruffy blue scrub pad.  No, no.  Whip out the steel wool or the heavy duty scrub pads.  Yes, go against the rules! Put some muscle into it!  If you'd like, add salt for traction and get to scrubbing.  Once done check for the icky-sticky, discard the salt and rinse pan with warm water.

Wash.  Wash that mess with a dab of soap, if desired.  Be brave, you are once again being lured to the dark side-break the rules again!  Give it a good washing with a stiff brush and rinse when done.

Dry.  Dry your pan completely, thoroughly and immediately.  Don't air dry it on a rack.  Get 'er dry with a terry cloth towel.

Oil.  It doesn't take much.  In fact too much oil is what got me in this sticky situation.  I used a scant teaspoon for my 8" pan.  Rub vegetable or canola oil gently over the pan with a rag or paper towel.

Bake.  At 425 degrees F.  Place a piece of foil on the bottom rack (do this first, so you don't burn yourself).  Place pan upside down on the middle rack and bake for 45 minutes.  Turn off heat and let pan cool completely in the oven.
Ahhhhh, now I have a smooth cast iron pan.  Time to bake some cornbread!

***please note:  I am aware that I recommend a lot of "never evers" (i.e. using soap, using steel wool).  Please keep in mind this is a tutorial for restoring an unwell cast iron pan.  For basic cleaning I recommend a WASH, DRY, SEASON regime.

No comments: