Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Refurbishing Old Cast Iron Cookware

There is nothing better (in my mind) than cooking in well seasoned cast iron.  It is naturally non stick, provides a strong, even heat and actually adds dietary iron to food.

After hearing warnings and reading about people losing their birds from the gases produced when heating teflon coated pans I stopped using them completely.  Anything that is toxic to small animals is toxic to people.  The only reason it doesn't kill us is because we are bigger.

Some of my cast iron was handed down from my grandmother and great grandmother.  The rest was purchased at thrift stores and was not in the best condition when I bought it.  But it is easy to refurbish cast iron so that it is almost like new.

Cast iron often has a build up of cooking grease burned on to the outside of the pan.  Sometimes it is mistaken for permanent damage, but it usually can be removed.

Grease Build Up
Take a scraper and begin gently removing the hard grease in layers.  You want to avoid scraping all the way to the bare, shiny metal.  Leaving a layer of black is good.  Don't scrape towards the hand holding the pan; one slip and you could cut yourself badly.

Work In Layers

Some people swear by burning the grease off outside in a wood fire.  The heat must become very intense and will work much like a self cleaning oven burns off cooked on grease.

After the bottom is cleaned it is time to address the inside of the pan.  Place the pan on a burner on medium heat.

Badly Scoured Pan
Pour a small amount of vegetable oil in the pan.

Wipe a thin layer all over the pan surface.

Now leave it on the heat for ten minutes and wipe off excess.  Repeat this process several times.  The pores of the cast iron are absorbing and filling with the oil to create a non stick surface.

If you had to scour the outside of the pan down to the shiny metal do the seasoning in the oven, set on 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oil both the inside and outside of the pan.

You have just seasoned cast iron!  Isn't it pretty?  Repeat this process any time your cast iron is scoured too much.  Proper cleaning with just hot water and a plastic scrubby should avoid over scouring.  Dry your cast iron by placing it back on the hot burner.

Pretty And Ready For Cornbread
God bless,

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