I watch a lot of cooking shows. Like every cooking show. The funny thing is, I’m not a great cook. I like to create simple, fast, and easy meals but my favorite meals of all are the ones prepared by someone else. In an effort to feed my family well, I have been brushing up on my culinary prowess.
Everyone swears that cooking in a cast iron pan is the way to go and I had never used one before. Enter the cast iron skillet that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. But when I pulled it out of storage it was rusty. Oh so rusty. I have seen a ton of tutorials for restoring cast iron pans. So I thought I could certainly bring it back it life.
The first method I tried involved scrubbing the pan with salt and a potato. Sounded a bit strange but it seemed like a non-destructive and natural method. The idea is simple. Pour a generous amount of coarse salt into the pan. Cut a potato in half and then scrub away.
Let me just say, I exerted a decent amount of elbow grease scrubbing with that potato but when I wiped away the salt, there was still rust. I am certain that this method would be great for removing a more reasonable amount of rust.
I needed some more scrubbing power so I grabbed my green plastic scouring pad and dampened it. This thing really worked. I scrubbed the entire surface of the pan both inside and outside. Also, I didn’t wear rubber gloves but I highly recommend wearing them because this was a dirtier job than I anticipated and I came away with some gross nails. I rinsed the pan with water and dried it with paper towels.
To get the pan thoroughly dry, I placed it on a burner on low heat until all the water spots dried up. I let it cool a little and then began the seasoning process.
Now the pan had to be seasoned because scrubbing removes the natural non-stick surface of the skillet. Soap can remove it as well. To replace the non-stick surface you need to season the pan again.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat the entire surface of the pan with oil using a paper towel. I used corn oil that has a high smoke point. I placed my pan on a baking sheet and baked it for 1 hour. Turn off oven, leaving the pan in the oven until it has cooled.
You can repeat this many times to get a good cooking surface. I coated it in oil and baked it 3 times and when I finally cooked a dish in it, nothing stuck all. Success!
All of this sounds like a lot of work, but you really shouldn’t need to do it often. After using your pan, all you need to do is rinse/ wipe out, pat dry, add a thin layer of oil to the inside and you are ready to cook your next cast iron skillet creation.
A quick recap of what worked for my pan:
1. Dampen scouring pad. You may use a little dish soap.
2. Scrub entire pan inside and out.
3. Rinse pan.
4. Dry with paper towel. Set on a burner in low to dry completely.
5. Once the pan is cool enough to handle, rub cooking oil all over the pan with a paper towel.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Turn off oven and take pan out when completely cool.