I am a cast iron cookware devotee. I do like my stainless steel cookware, but when it comes to non-stick, a cast iron is my go-to pan. Granted, even well seasoned cast iron cookware is not as ‘non-stick' as some other “Non Stick” labelled cookware, but I'm way too leery of all the chemicals and processes that are involved in making the ‘non stick' feature of other non-stick cookware. I'll always default to a low-tech, no chemical, tried and true item that's been safely in use since the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD).
In addition to the set of 4 Lodge 5-inch cast iron skillets that I've written so fondly about (skillet apple crumble, skillet brownie, skillet pecan pie); I also regularly use a Dutch Oven, a 10-inch skillet, a 12-inch skillet and a 2-sided grill/griddle.
All that being said, you can't just throw your cast-iron skillet in the dishwasher or for that matter, wash and forget it. So this is where I got stuck (no pun intended) on my cast-iron learning curve. Of course, I never put it in the dishwasher! But I know I didn't ‘tend' to it on a regular basis like I should have. My skillets are actually in pretty good shape, but the lid of my dutch oven became rusted on the inside because I didn't make sure it was dry when I put it away and my grill/griddle was just a hot mess because I seasoned it poorly several years back.
“BAD Cast Iron Owner!! BAD”?
I recently decided it was time to take back my cast iron and resolve to be a better cast iron owner. To that end, I need much research on how to rescue rusted cast iron cookware. I realized that I needed to take off whatever finish remained on the dutch oven, its lid and the griddle and start from scratch.
After the Self Clean Oven Treatment and Wire Brush Drill Attachments
Now here's where you'll get all sorts of opinions. I've read about Flax Oil (which is awful expensive to be coating your cast iron with), lard, vegetable oil and coconut oil. I've worked with the vegetable oil with moderate success (operator error I'm certain), but this time I thought I'd try something new. I read about a product called Crisbee and decided to give it a try. Scouts honor, I am not affiliated with Crisbee at all and they don't even know I'm writing about them.
Crisbee comes in a puck form or a stick, rather like stick deodorant. It is a proprietary blend of soybean oil, palm oil and beeswax. The company claims that the addition beeswax helps the oil bond to the cast iron better than just vegetable oil I liked that it was a solid, making it easier to get the thin coat you need on your cast iron. I think where I went astray in my past cast iron seasoning attempts was that I had too much vegetable oil and it puddled or baked unevenly. The puck is so easy to use, especially on an ongoing basis after each use. I may give the stick a try next time just to compare. The puck is $7 and the stick $10, but shipping is free.
I had read somewhere that instead of baking the cast iron in your oven, you could do it outside on your grill. Even though I think the Crisbee put off fewer fumes than regular vegetable oil, I'd be lying if I didn't say that there is still the burnt oil smell coming out of your oven. So, I thought ‘What a great idea!” and turned my grill on. Here's the rub…my grill thermometer doesn't work real well..I guess. After one hour, my grill/griddle looked like it did after the self-cleaning mode which removed the oil I had just put on…obviously my grill was hotter than what the thermostat claimed. Plus there's the whole thing of having indirect heat in the oven versus direct flames on the grill.
At the end of the day, I figured I was better off doing it inside and dealing with the burnt vegetable oil smell. Luckily its a cool day and I can have the windows open.
So, now that I've taken my cast iron cookware down and built the finish back up, I am determined to keep it well-seasoned on a regular basis as opposed to having to go through this process again. You need to invest several hours (4 hours for self-clean cycle, plus 3-4 for each 450° ‘baking' cycle…so up to 20-hours total baking time.) Granted, you are not actively involved for most of the time and the process can be spread out as long as you need, but why even bother if you just keep it well seasoned! (Can you hear me motivating myself to do a better maintenance job?)
This was on my to-do list for some time and it feels good to scratch off of my list
RESCUE RUSTED CAST IRON COOKWARE! Yay me! Now I can start doing fun stuff…like getting ready for the upcoming holidays!
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