Cast iron pans are probably that one thing in your kitchen that has the longest life if you know how to keep it right and preserve it.
If you are a cast iron fan, you know all about the seasoning process and how you are supposed to store your cast irons after having used them.
This article is dedicated to the processes by which the seasoning can be removed or can come off completely, and then also how to fix that by restoring a cast iron through seasoning.
Restoring a cast iron pan
If you have a cast iron pan, then you know how useful and versatile it is a cookware. And in the case of weird accidents happening, you need to be fully equipped with the knowledge to be able to restore it.
First, we must take into consideration all the different reasons that will call for the restoration of your cast iron.
You know how sometimes you have guests over and that one person who is trying to be over efficient and helpful ends up washing your cast iron with liquid soap and that steel wool, making sure no seasoning remains.
And if you have ever bought a vintage or antique cast iron pan from an unknown source, you may end up finding that they were not preserving the pan like it should have been preserved. And since you have already bought it you need a way to restore it.
You might also need to restore it if you cook something super acidic in the pan because that will just corrode at the seasoning and you will have to start over again.
In the end, it hardly matters how you got into this mess but how you can get out of it. In order to get out of this mess, you have to start over from the very beginning. Now that the seasoning is completely off, we have to almost like recreate it.
Just to make things clear for everyone who might not be familiar with the term seasoning, let’s talk about what the seasoning really is and why it is so important.
It is basically just fat molecules. So these molecules are joined to the upper layer of your cast iron pan, so let’s just say that the first layer of your cast iron pan is basically fat molecules.
As far as fat molecules go, they can be taken off by any activity cleaning or otherwise, that would be able to remove any greasy substance from iron or metals.
So before restoring you need to clean your pan completely, some people suggest placing you cast iron into a self-cleaning oven and since the temperature can go up to 700-900 degrees. A temperature this high can practically turn all organic material into nothing and that’s what you want right?
Well yes, but no, this way is highly inadvisable because temperatures that high can also be super damaging to your cast iron pan. So essentially it could cause breakdown of your precious cast iron, maybe not instantly but eventually.
Let us look at something a little different but just as doable, maybe even simpler.
So, for this simple method, you are going to need the things listed below
- Over cleanser
- Trash bag or garbage bag
- Some patience and time
So the simple method includes applying and slathering your cast iron pan with the oven cleaner first, this is a good cleanser for metal pans. Then place your pan in a trash bag and just wait for about a good 30 minutes or so.
30 minutes is the smallest amount of time you HAVE to give this, but some experts suggest leaving it like that for days, up to 7 days to be exact.
After 30 minutes are up, take it out and scrub with all that soap still on and some water. If any grease still remains, you have to start over. Keep doing this till your pan is squeaky clean.
After you have a squeaky clean pan, just add some vinegar to your pan and let it stay and then throw it out. And then let it dry completely. The vinegar part some people skip because sometimes you don’t really require it, but if you do go through with this, no doubts will remain.
The vinegar is acidic and will corrode at whatever grease is left in the pan.
Dry it immediately though because otherwise you are leaving it out to rust and be attacked by all the different things in the air.
After you are done cleaning it all up, it is time to install a new layer of seasoning.
This is quite simple, just a few easy steps and you are done. So you start off with some shortening or vegetable oil, whatever is available, and apply a very thin layer on your pan.
Now turn your pan upside down and place it in the oven at 375 degrees, and just bake for one hour. Make sure you place your pan in the middle of the oven to get even heat.
After baking it just cool it back down, and that is all, your seasoning is done!
Now that you have gone through all this effort, make sure not to make the same mistakes again keep your cast iron in the best position, especially if it’s an antique!
Image credits via Flickr Creative Commons; Suzie Ridler
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