When your second-hand pan needs a little TLC
Last month Farm Husband found an awesome cast iron pan at an antique store in Wyoming. He can be so thoughtful sometimes. The flat griddle will make a great crepe pan!
It has some minor rust spots on the cooking surface and build-up from years of use and neglect, but I knew I could return it back to glory! With just a few simple household items, I polished off the cooking surface and got to work seasoning it.
Tools for Resurfacing Cast Iron
This sounds daunting but you will be so surprised when you see these tools I'm talking about! I used a potato and salt. Yup, no kidding! I have cleaned a half a dozen pans much more rusty than this one with just those two ingredients! The salt is abrasive enough to remove rust without damaging your pan and the potato fits perfectly into your hand.
I can only imagine Great Grammy using the same method to save a beloved cast iron pan from certain death! And for good reason. Cast Iron is a kitchen super hero! It can go from the stove to the oven, to the grill or campfire. Talk about versatility!
Besides a potato and salt, you will need some good ol' elbow grease. Great Grammy wasn't a string bean for good reason! Depending on how much rust you're dealing, you will apply firm to hard pressure while scrubbing.
Once you are satisfied with the pan, you can begin seasoning. The seasoning process is what gives cast iron its non-stick appeal, sans the chemical soup of your typical non-stick pan, I might add!
Cleaning and Seasoning a Rusty Cast Iron Pan
Begin by sprinkling course salt over your pan. Slice your spud in half and begin scrubbing in circular motions around the pan. You will continue scubbing until the rust and buildup is removed. In some cases, you will being to see the naked cast iron, which is shiny and silver.
Rinse the pan with water and dry thoroughly to prevent further rust. NEVER leave a cast iron pan wet. Occasionally soaking a pan for short periods will be fine as long as it has been seasoned sufficiently. Now you can begin the seasoning process.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I have used many different oils to season cast iron before. Tallow and flax seed oil are my favorite. I avoid highly processed vegetable oils both becasue of their ill health effects and inefficiency.
Lightly coat the pan with your oil of choice. To prevent oil from dripping in your oven, place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom shelf. Place pan in the oven for one hour then turn the oven off and let sit until cool enough to handle.
Repeat as necessary until you achieve a non-stick patina. I seasoned this pan 2-3 times before using it to cook crepes. They came out perfect and didn't stick a bit!
What cast iron tips and tricks do you have to share? I love hearing them.
Francesca, wife and mother of three, eagerly shares day-to-day life on her ten acre farm in northern Colorado.