If your cast-iron cookware has rusty patches, looks dull, or isn't as nonstick as it used to be, it's time to reseason. Most cast-iron pans, even ones that get heavy use, need to be reseasoned from time to time. With a little effort, it's easy to revive worn-out cast iron and make it look smooth and glossy again. Follow our steps to get it right.
Steps To Reseason a Cast-Iron Skillet
A school of thought about cast iron entirely rejects using soap to clean it. But there are exceptions to every rule. Get started by scrubbing the pan well in hot, soapy water. Yes, using a little soap is acceptable in this case because you are reseasoning the pan. Use a nylon scrub brush or fine steel wool scrubber to remove rust. Once the pan is clean, dry it thoroughly inside and out. (And keep the pan dry in the future to prevent rusting.)
Another method for cleaning rust is to immerse your pan in equal parts vinegar and water fully. Keep checking in with the progress of the skillet. The rust may be gone within an hour, but you can soak it for up to eight hours if needed.
Use oil with a high oleic index (oil that performs well at high temperatures), such as safflower or canola. Otherwise, use shortening. Make sure to cover the inside, outside, and handle. Don't add too much. You don't want the pan to be too oily that it's slippery. Aim for a nice even coating. Remember to coat the entire pan, not just the interior.
For long-term care, it is best practice to oil an iron skillet after each use. A well-seasoned skillet has a distinct look to it. It is noticeably dark with a shiny, semi-gloss finish. Of course, if you rarely use your cast-iron skillet, oiling it only two to three times a year will work.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the pan upside down on the middle oven rack—This prevents the oil from pooling inside the pan. Put a sheet of aluminum foil on the lower shelf to catch any drips. Bake the pan for one hour.
You might need to repeat the baking step to achieve a newly seasoned skillet's good look and feel. Don't be afraid to repeat this process three times so your skillet will have just the right non-stick surface. You could also try prepping a meal in the skillet to see if that aids in getting the right semi-gloss look you are trying to achieve.
After one hour, turn off the oven and leave the pan in the oven to cool completely. When the pan is cool, wipe away excess oil with a paper towel. When it's time to cook with your shiny new skillet, wash it with hot water (no soap this time) and dry it thoroughly after each use. If a skillet is not completely dry, it will take on rust.
Create Your Best Recipes with Cast-Iron
We have our opinions on who makes the best, but cast iron is a classic Southern kitchen tool because of what you can create with it. From main courses to desserts (you need to master baking a pie with your cast-iron skillet), you'll never want to remove this pan from your stovetop. Be sure that you understand the ins and outs of using cast iron, so you are getting the most from this versatile kitchen friend. Here are some recipe ideas to get your cast iron cooking started.