Cast Iron Not Cast Away (How to Reseason a Cast Iron Pan)

Despite losing a bit of food-blogging street cred, I present to you, my trusting readers, the shameful state of my cast iron pot. 

I’ve been a terrible guardian to my precious cast iron: not only did I let my skillet go MIA, I found my neglected dutch oven in a deplorable condition, stowed in the deep dark reaches of my kitchen. It was orange with rust, covered in a thin layer of dog hair and dust, and caked with past meals - utterly shameful!  

This was no way to treat an old friend. Over the past 8 years we’ve made award-winning chili and enjoyed many a cold night around the camp fire. I recall the care I took when I first seasoned its cool black surface. But over time, it fell from my normal rotation of cookware, and got pushed to the back of the pantry.

The great thing about cast iron is, that no matter how badly you treat it, it never dies. With a little elbow grease and some actual grease, you can bring it back to its former glory. Now that I’ve moved into a grown-up kitchen, I figured it was time to get my cast iron in order. The process is as simple as:

  1. Get that rust off!
  2. Wash and DRY thoroughly
  3. Grease it up!
  4. Bake it on (and on and on..if desired)

1. Get that rust off! - Grab a heavy duty scouring pad, wet your pan, and scrub a dub dub. Don't be afraid to put your back into it. NOTE: If there is still a little rusty orange tinge, don't fear, once you season the pan it will go away.  

2. Wash and dry thoroughly Once the rust is gone, wash the pot with a mild dish soap and dry completely. 

3. Grease it up! - Now for the fun part (if you're into that kind of thing): rub oil all over the inside, outside, bottom, and top of the pan. Wipe off the excess fat with a paper towel. There is a lot of debate as to the best type of oil to use. I used good old vegetable oil but this interesting article convincingly asserts that flaxseed oil produces the hardest, smoothest coating. 

4. Bake it on (and on and on..if desired)! - Place a cookie sheet or aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven. Place the pan upside on the top rack and set your oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven has reached that temp, "bake" the pan for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the pan cool completely in the oven. Now your pan is seasoned...but you can repeat the greasing/baking (steps 3 & 4) up to 3 times for a more developed seasoning aka polymerization (the chemical hardening of the oil).

Now you have a beautiful, usable pan!