Ah, Cast Iron…
We may have a small cast iron addiction in the Harper House. We actually had to make a rack just to hold all the frying pans, and we are about to outgrow that one. We also have a large collection of Dutch ovens. Oh, and a few griddles, and a popover pan, and a corn pan and a Swedish pancake pan and…well you get the idea.
I’ve cooked about everything there is to cook in cast iron. From baking a wedding cake to fried chicken. It takes a little gettin used to. Cast Iron holds its heat for a long time. But, It has pretty even heat distribution, and over time develops a great non-stick surface. They work great on a gas grill, or my favorite…over a campfire.
My favorite is vintage cast iron. I am constantly on the lookout at antique stores, flea markets, and yard sales. I’ve come across some pretty nasty looking pans. But, after trying a few different cleaning methods. I’ve found a method that’s really worked for me.
What I look for when purchasing cast iron.
Like I said vintage is best. I generally look for Wagner and Griswold manufacturers. But, really the name isn’t a big deal. The most important thing to look for is damage to the structure of the pan. Check for cracks, pitting, chips, and warping. Nevermind any grim, grease, or even rust.
I found the one we used for this post at an antique store. It’s neither of my favorite manufactures nor do I think its considered “vintage” (I’m not a cast iron expert, just an enthusiast) 🙂 But, it was good and grimy and perfect for this how to.
Place the frying pan in an oven upside down on the middle rack. Turn on the self-cleaning function. Open the windows and maybe leave the house. It’s gonna get stinky!
As soon as the cleaning is complete and the door is unlocked. CAREFULLY remove from the oven using oven mitts or pads. It will be super hot! Do not set on any surface. This is when I hold the pan over the sink and brush/rub out the leftover ash/rust and crud. I just used paper towels this time. You can use something a little more abrasive it needed.
Once get you the majority of loose crud rubbed off. Add a couple tablespoons of oil. I use flaxseed or canola oil. Rub that in… Really buff it in- Don’t be a wuss, put some muscle into it.
After it’s all oiled up and you’ve buffed out any leftovers. Place back in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. Take out and allow to cool and walah! Beautiful pretty clean cast iron. Ready to cook some of your most loved recipes. Like yummy biscuits (stay tuned for that post).
The finished product
Next- just cook…Fry until your little heart’s content. The more you use it the better the seasoning gets and the more “nonstick” it becomes. After cooking I usually clean with coarse salt and hot water. Sometimes an abrasive cleaning pad is needed.
I’ve always been told not to use soap. I’ve read somewhere that that is just an old wives tale. But, when I’ve used soap it seems to remove the good seasoning I’ve worked so hard to achieve. So I don’t.
After it is clean set on a warm burner to dry completely, then spray with cooking spray and wipe out with a paper towel.
Check out this comparison.
Pretty snazzy, huh?
So keep an eye out for the gross and grimy cast iron. You’ll grab up a treasure others may pass by, and be cooking up a little love for your family in no time.
Or if nothing else, you’ll have something to defend yourself with when a burglar breaks into your house.
We’d love to see your favorite cast iron finds, send us a pic via email, or on one of our social media accounts below.
Whelp see ya,
Doris and Jessie