I have all kinds of cast iron. Today, I decided it was time to clean and re-season all of it. There are a few key pieces that sit on my stove top and I’ve decided that it was time to break out some additional pieces. Particularly, a nice sauce pan with a lid and a double dutch oven (for lack of a better term). In all, there were two No. 8 skillets, a No 14 skillet (yeah, the big daddy) two waffle irons, two regular dutch ovens, the double dutch oven, an egg poacher, a cornbread pan, a muffin pan, and a star-shaped muffin pan. There was a sauce pan and lids for about each of them! I really needed another oven, or two, for the task. My oven was working at 250 degrees all day.

Anyone who cooks with cast-iron can never turn back. I’m ready to ditch everything else I have and commit to cast-iron cooking! Having your cookware properly seasoned and maintained only increases the performance of cast-iron. Here’s how I did it:

Seasoning your cast iron

  1. Clean your cookware real good. It’s OK to use a mild soap as you scrape off any junk. I used a wire brush and scouring pad to get it as clean as possible. A wire brush is good for rust (also a clue that your pan is not properly seasoned.)
  2. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.
  3. Dry everything off real good. You don’t want any water on it before the rub-down with oil.
  4. Rub it down using a paper towel. You can use canola oil, but I used Crisco vegetable shortening this time. I have used bacon grease in the past. People have used lard, bacon grease or ham fat or any other saturated fat. Saturated fat will stay in your pan much longer so while it may seem weird, think of it as cooking breakfast in it. Each time you cook, your surface becomes more seasoned. Go crazy… season it with bacon grease, we’re talking cast-iron!
  5. Let it cook in the oven for 2 hours. After two hours, turn off the oven and leave the pans in it to cool in the oven. Now if you have to do multiple oven loads like me, that may not be an option.

When the pans come out, grab your hot mitt and give them another rub down with a cotton wash cloth or something that you can work fast with. Just shine it up and that’s it folks. Repeat this process as often as you like. Even better, cook with it… a lot! Bacon and anything greasy or fatty adds to an awesome seasoned surface. Eventually, with proper cleaning, your pan will achieve a natural non-stick, smooth-as-glass surface.

Cleaning your cast iron

When you clean your cast iron, be sure not to use high detergent soaps. Some will argue it’s OK to use a mild soap, but I do not. If you need some scouring action, throw a little kosher salt into the pan under your faucet and get a scrubby or something to grind up the junk. Soaps will de-season your cookware. It will take off the black and you will begin to see the silver of the cast-iron again. You want your cookware to maintain a nice, even black shine.

When done washing, give a quick towel dry and then put it on your stove burner to completely dry it out. Don’t over cook the pan here! A minute or two should do it. Leave it on just long enough to dry out.