My Love Affair with Cast Iron

I’ve got a love for cast iron.  A cast iron skillet with a good patina will cook much better than any of those fancy, new-age, carcinogenic Teflon pans.  I take very good care of mine, and it takes care of me.  Just ask Courtney – I don’t even let her touch it without permission!  I demand to be supervising any time she asks to use it for something.

I bought a pair for less than 8 dollars (one was  Griswold brand and the other just had a “C” on the bottom) and got one for free.  That’s because they were sitting in people’s back yards full of water.  These poor things were rusting so badly that the rust was coming off in flakes.  The sight was bad enough to make a grown man cry.  I had to save them, so I actually paid money for them.

Back at home, I got out my trusty Dewalt 18V cordless drill and put a wire brush in the chuck.

Then I went to town on that poor, neglected piece of cookware.  After an hour or so of grinding away on it, the pan is looking much better.  Take it into the house and wash it well in the sink. Side Note: Never use soap on cast iron.

To season, I put it on the stovetop and get it nice and hot.  Then I begin with a paper towel with some vegetable oil and wipe the whole thing down.  Let it get nice and hot again and keep doing this several more times.  It’ll get pretty smokey, so keep the window open.  You are baking on layers of oil that will create the patina, or the non-stick surface.  Once you’ve got a nice layer going, you’ll be amazed at how well it works for cooking.  I cook scrambled eggs in each of my skillets and cleaning them is a breeze.

Another side note: never cook tomato sauce or any other acidic foods in cast iron lest you lift the patina.  Use stainless steel instead.

To clean up after cooking, I always wait until the pan cools down.  You could crack cast iron if you expose a hot pan to cold water.  Once cool enough, run under water and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush.  No soap necessary.  Dry off and place back on the stove on medium heat for a few moments.  Once hot again, wipe down with an oiled paper towel again to protect until the next time you use.

Here’s my next project.  I will update you on her progress.

Thanks,  Robert

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8 responses to “My Love Affair with Cast Iron

  1. Robert and Courteney, I agree that cast iron cooking is the best. I have a favorite I lugged all the way back from a flea market in NJ. The brand I have is Wagner Ware. I clean it the same way you do. My husband, Jim, thinks fried eggs taste the best in bacon drippings and a good cast iron skillet. Jean

    • Robert @ hisandhershomesteading

      Jean,

      Wagner and Griswold are the two best brands – you’ve got a keeper for sure. I took your advice and baked some bacon grease onto mine this morning. Really looking forward to scrambled eggs tomorrow morning now.

      Thanks,
      Robert

  2. I must admit I’m a total fan of cast iron too. It was a little hard getting use to the pans at first but I’m hooked! I love that I can cook something on the stove top and then place the pan in the oven to continue baking! Good lucj on your next project… You are brave!

    • Robert @ hisandhershomesteading

      Mavis,

      The heat retention takes a little getting used to. You can’t just take something off the burner when you want it to stop cooking.

      I’ll post pics once I’ve made some progress on the new one.

      Robert

  3. Can you use a cast iron skillet on an electric flat top range? I would love to use them but afraid of breaking my stove top/wish I didn’t have a flat top now. thanks

    • Robert @ hisandhershomesteading

      Donna,

      Courtney’s grandparents use a large cast iron skillet (8″ dia with 4″ deep sides) on their flat top electric range all the time and don’t have any trouble at all. We have gas where we’re living right now, but had electric coil ranges everywhere else we lived. I’ve also used my cast iron skillet to cook over a camp fire. That really speaks to the versatility of these tools.

      Thanks,
      Robert

  4. Stephanie Walker

    The bottom of my frying pan has like thick layers of build up or something. The inside is fine..I have been cooking with it more here lately..but the bottom is so thick and uneven and I have a flat top stove so it rocks around on it. How can I get this build off. Or should it be like that? I have tried to scrub the bottom. but I never scrub the inside. Thank You for any advice you have.

    • Robert @ hisandhershomesteading

      Stephanie,

      I don’t think your skillet should be rocking around on a flat surface. It is hard to make a recommendation without looking at it or seeing a picture. Have you tried scraping that stuff off with a putty knife? You could also scrub with kosher salt to get some more abrasion.

      Good luck. Robert.

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