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How to Care for an Iron Skillet


Aunt Jen

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Don't back over it more than three or four times, as you must then re-season it.

 

Glass beads may work better for sand blasting than walnut shells.

 

A rotating wire brush in a drill is not recommended, as it can be hard on the wire brush.

 

Do not use it for target practice in the house. It wakes the neighbors.

 

Do not let Rover play with it, because then you have to take him to the vet and spend $300 on his teeth.

 

The iron skillet will not work as a helmet. It keeps falling off.

 

In reality, HOW TO CARE FOR IT? Well, for me...

 

Season the Pan: Lightly wipe some of your favorite cooking oil on it, all over it, front and back, top and bottom, then put it on the stove under medium heat and cook the pan until the oil on it barely begins to smoke from inside the pan. Turn it off. Leave it. This expands the metal to absorb the oil.

 

Use it: I cook, remove food, wash in the sink while hot, scouring pad with NO SOAP, lightly wipe water off with paper towel, put it back on the stove on high head until all the water evaporates off. Leave it there.

 

EXTREME EXCAVATION:

 

I had one elderly friend, years ago, who had let her iron skillet go in non-care use for years. She complained to me about the crud that was building up in it on the bottom of the pan, inside. I looked at it, and after I picked myself up off the floor, I went home and got some tools.

 

I returned later. I used a chisel to get the bulk of it out, then I used a wire-brush in my cordless drill (against my own advice, because, but I was kidding!), to grind and grind....scrape with a flat head spatula....grind and grind some more, and when I finished, the pan was like new.

 

I seasoned it per above, and off she goes to the races with it, fed me lunch. :)

 

 

 

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Easiest way I have found to restore a totally crud built up skillet is to throw it in a large campfire that is blazing

hot. bury it in the coals and leave it over night. The next day, season it with oil. Wipe it down inside and out with your favorite vegetable oil. Blot off excess with paper towel so it doesn't drip ion oven. Bake it in oven at 400 for an hour or so. Let it cool, and it is ready to use and looks like new again. Did a nice Griswold this summer that someone gave me because it was so cruddy they were going to throw it out. Looks amazing.

 

WW

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In extreme cases like that, when you know you're going to have to re-season it anyway, "cook" some soapy water in it. Water, dish soap, heat and simmer for a goodly while - most of that crud that got "cooked on" will be "cooked off." ;)

 

And for REALLY extreme cases, you can use electrolysis. :)

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So, if I coulda "cooked" some soapy water in it to get rid of her crud, or put it into the campfire overnight.... You mean I cleaned it the hard way with all that scraping?

 

I guess it would help to be smarter than the pan.

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Easiest way I have found to restore a totally crud built up skillet is to throw it in a large campfire that is blazing

hot. bury it in the coals and leave it over night. The next day, season it with oil. Wipe it down inside and out with your favorite vegetable oil. Blot off excess with paper towel so it doesn't drip ion oven. Bake it in oven at 400 for an hour or so. Let it cool, and it is ready to use and looks like new again. Did a nice Griswold this summer that someone gave me because it was so cruddy they were going to throw it out. Looks amazing.

 

WW

Old timers way of cleaning. I've done it to mine on occasion.

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If it's crudded up and you don't have a campfire, DO get it hot, take it out and work on it with a narrow putty knife, rinse it, back on stove to get it hot. Cover hot pan bottom with dish soap and let it bubble a bit, then, pour in enough water to cover bottom less than 1/4". let sit for a while, scrub with a very stiff brush and scrape again as necessary. Clean it up til you're satisfied then put about an 1/8" of olive oil or peanut oil (hi-temp veg oil) in it and wipe it down, leaving a liberal coating. Add more oil to pan to ensure 1/8" on bottom. Put in a 400 deg F oven for a couple hours. Turn off oven and let sit in there in the dark until cool. Wipe down vigorously with rough rags and more oil until it rubs clean. Rub with light coat of oil before each use and don't overheat. Scrub with water and limit use of soap; no abrasive pads. Wipe dry; don't heat on stove to dry. Use olive oil cooking spray on it and wipe gently, leaving a film before putting away. You should be able to fry eggs in it without them sticking.

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Don't back over it more than three or four times, as you must then re-season it.

 

Glass beads may work better for sand blasting than walnut shells.

 

A rotating wire brush in a drill is not recommended, as it can be hard on the wire brush.

 

Do not use it for target practice in the house. It wakes the neighbors.

 

Do not let Rover play with it, because then you have to take him to the vet and spend $300 on his teeth.

 

The iron skillet will not work as a helmet. It keeps falling off.

 

In reality, HOW TO CARE FOR IT? Well, for me...

 

Season the Pan: Lightly wipe some of your favorite cooking oil on it, all over it, front and back, top and bottom, then put it on the stove under medium heat and cook the pan until the oil on it barely begins to smoke from inside the pan. Turn it off. Leave it. This expands the metal to absorb the oil.

 

Use it: I cook, remove food, wash in the sink while hot, scouring pad with NO SOAP, lightly wipe water off with paper towel, put it back on the stove on high head until all the water evaporates off. Leave it there.

 

EXTREME EXCAVATION:

 

I had one elderly friend, years ago, who had let her iron skillet go in non-care use for years. She complained to me about the crud that was building up in it on the bottom of the pan, inside. I looked at it, and after I picked myself up off the floor, I went home and got some tools.

 

I returned later. I used a chisel to get the bulk of it out, then I used a wire-brush in my cordless drill (against my own advice, because, but I was kidding!), to grind and grind....scrape with a flat head spatula....grind and grind some more, and when I finished, the pan was like new.

 

I seasoned it per above, and off she goes to the races with it, fed me lunch. :)

When seasoning in the oven turnn the pan upside down over a cookie sheet, that prevents the oil from pooling

 

 

 

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extreme crud on cast can be removed by wetting newspaper with ammonia , then place pan inside and wait. might take a couple of trys. usually just pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt in pan and dry scrub till your satisfied. GW then season with your favorite oil.

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I was watching a show on National Geographic last week called "Live Free or Die," about people who had gone way off grid, living in the backwoods, hunting, trapping and the like. One guy had his cabin burn down while he was out checking traps. Once things cooled off, he came back looking for things. Other than his ruined Ruger Mk. II, which pained me to see, he found a cast iron skillet. After some time rubbing it with bunches of sand and rinsing with water, heated it, oiled it, and let it cool. Good as new.

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Flaxseed oil as stated in Yellowhorse Sam's link is what I've heard is best.

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The real trick is starting out with good cast iron to begin with. Most cast iron sold today even by names that used to mean quality are JUNK. Makers are cutting corners and not properly finishing the cookware.

 

Take a look at the surface of old high quality cast iron. Even if all the seasoning has been burned off the cooking surface is still very smooth. Compare the cooking surface to non-cooking surfaces and the difference is obvious. Now look at the crap they sell today, they remove it from the mould, clean a little and then put a price on it. Even the surfaces of so called pre-seasoned cast iron pale in comparison to the high quality cookware available to our grandparents.

 

Any more I will not buy any cast cookware unless I can thoroughly inspect it first. The cooking surfaces should be easily distinguishable from the non-cooking surfaces simply by looking at the finish.

 

Good high quality cast iron has had the cooking surface polished to make it as smooth a possible. If it has not been polished it can take forever, if ever to properly season.

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