Wednesday, February 22, 2012

resurrecting the cast iron.

Today's post has absolutely zero to do with organization. Like zero zero. But, it does pertain to my heart's third love (obvi, the order of my heart's loves stands thus: 1) Mr. Spouse 2) organizing 3) cooking 4) making it on Broadway). When we were registering before our wedding, I was the bride that shamelessly scanned both the crystal candle sticks and the cast iron skillet in one session. Any girl from the South knows that only goodness can come from the cast iron's ebony depths. It is a kitchen essential.
However, the cast iron skillet, despite my core beliefs regarding it's Southern charm, has done me wrong. You see, the cast iron skillet does not like soap. Like really doesn't like soap. I, being a clean freak, feel that soap is a life essential. Not touching one of my kitchen utensils with soap, to me, is the equivalent of dousing my dinner plate in salmonella and forcing me to eat from it. Vomit. On. A. Stick.
So what did I do about my soap-hating skillet? I washed that cast iron with as much soap as I could fit on it. I was determined that my cast iron would love soap as much as I did by the time I was finished with it.
At first, I thought that I had brought the cast iron around to my way of thinking. It was having it's nightly bath in the bubbly goodness, I was sleeping soundly knowing that all of my pots and pans were perfectly germ-free, everyone was happy. That's until I pulled my little cast iron buddy out last week and found this:

Rust, food particles, and stuck-on horror!

I tried to use it, but literally every bit of food I put in stuck like taffy sticks to braces. I had no idea what to do! But what does any girl do when she feels lost, alone and afraid? Pinterest it. Now, I'm a girl who does her research and then combines a little bit of everything I find out to make, what I deem to be, the perfect mix! After reading a couple of blogs and what seemed to be a government-run cast iron website, I discovered that I would essentially need to coat the inside of my skillet with shortening, lard or bacon grease, bake it at a low temperature for an extended time, and then I should be back to my Southern Dandy-ness. Not too hard!
Here were the steps I took to resurrect the cast iron to its former glory days:
  • I preheated my oven to 250 degrees. I read that as long as your oven is between 225 and 275, you'll be golden.
  • I rubbed the inside of the cast iron skillet with Minnie's solution to everything: Crisco.
**An important note for this step: During my research, most everyone noted that you DO NOT want to use any type of vegetable oil - it will leave a sticky residue on your cast iron and will not season it properly.
  • I put the cast iron skillet in the oven for about 15 minutes to allow all of the Crisco to melt, and then removed it just long enough to drain any excess grease that had pooled in the bottom of the pan, then put it back in the oven.
  • Let the skillet bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours and when you pull it out of the oven, you will have...

Hallelujah, praise the Lord, it was saved! Talk about a new lease on life! The little guy has never looked better! Let's do a before and after comparison just for giggles…
You may repeat the entire process up to 3 times to really allow the seasoning to set in. I only had time for one go-round, but next time I'm in the kitchen for a bit, I'll definitely do it again.
For the future, I have learned my lesson and now know that cast iron HATES soap! It's best to scrape the pan (if necessary) while it's hot and wipe out any residue with a clean paper towel. Rather than thinking that my sizzling, soap-hating skillet is a hotbed for germs, I will just remind myself that it's full of flavor.
  • It required only 5 minutes of active participation from me.
  • It was a simple solution to a HUGE problem.
  • No special remedies were involved – thanks Minnie, Crisco really does fix everything!
Happy frying y’all!


  1. Eryn, I just came across your blog today, and I am totally in love with it! Like you, I am a first grade teacher and I'm pretty OCD when it comes to organization and anything else that will make my life a bit easier. :)

    I am in love with my cast iron cookware, and one of my favorite pieces is my oversized pot that I use to make large batches of jambalaya. YUM! My problem is that it was accidentally left on the patio to air out one night, and someone covered it while it was still wet. New Orleans heat + moisture sealed up in a cast iron pot = lots of rust and a ruined piece. I tried every trick in the book that I could think of to remove the rust, but to no avail.

    I noticed your skillet had some rust. Did you do anything special to remove the rust prior to re-seasoning it with the Crisco/baking method? I'm just nervous about trying your method prior to removing the rust. It seems to me that the rust will actually get baked deeper into my pot during the process. Any thoughts on this?

    1. Hi Rainell! Thank you so much for your kind words! I am by no means a cast iron expert, so I will just speak from experience - I did not treat the rust on my skillet prior to re-seasoning it with the Crisco, and the rust seemed to be eliminated after the treatment. I hope that your rust comes out as well! We Southern girls need our cast iron!

    2. Thanks so much, Eryn! I'm going to try this and am keeping my fingers crossed that it works! AS I said, it's a pretty large pot, so I may have to do the process 2 or 3 times. Unfortunately, it's way too large for my oven, so I'll have to do it outside on my crawfish burner. I'll let you know how it turns out.