Cook like grandma: How to clean and reseason a neglected cast iron skillet

cleaning and seasoning a cast iron pan 1

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but this neglected cast iron skillet was in my otherwise neat and orderly kitchen. I hadn’t used it while, and it had languished in the oven where I had been storing it and started to rust. My mother would be ashamed of me for not taking better care of my toys.

When I pulled it out to make Fried Apples ‘n’ Onions, I knew that project would have to wait for another day until I got my skillet back in tip-top shape.

First, I gave the skillet a good hot water rinse and a scrubbed it with steel wool to get the rust off. After drying it well, I put the skillet on the stove and heated it over medium-high heat. Once it was warm, I turned off the heat and added about a 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and a 1/2 cup kosher salt to the pan.  I used tongs to hold a paper towel and gave the pan a good scrub all over the bottom and sides of the pan. Here’s how it looked when I was done:

cleaning and seasoning a cast iron pan 2

After all that scrubbing, my arm needed a rest (and the pan needed to cool completely) before I moved on to the next step. After taking a break to binge watch Downton Abbey allow the pan to cool, I returned to finish the task. I wiped out all the oil and salt and then rinsed the pan in hot water to get off any lingering salt crystals. After drying the pan thoroughly, it was looking pretty good; but I still wasn’t finished:

cleaning and seasoning a cast iron pan 3

I put the skillet back on the burner and turned it up to 11 heated it over medium-high heat. Once the skillet was nice and warm, I added some vegetable oil.

cleaning and seasoning a cast iron pan 4

Then, I used a paper towel to rub the oil on the bottom, sides, outside edge and handle. I turned off the heat and let the pan cool. When I was done, I was left with a perfect nonstick surface to work with:

cleaning and seasoning a cast iron pan 5

It takes a bit of time to complete this task, but it is worth it. When your cast iron skillet is properly seasoned, you should avoid using any detergent on it to wash it. Since it has a perfect nonstick surface, all you need is some hot water and a dish cloth or a paper towel to wipe it clean!

Do you have a cast iron skillet? Do you use any different methods to clean and season it? I’d love to hear some new tricks!

P.S. It’s not too late to take advantage of the Mother’s Day sale happening now in the Emmet Street Creations store! We don’t have any products to keep your cast iron pans clean, but from now through May 12, get 20% off any purchase of $10 or more. To get the discount, enter the code ILOVEMOM at checkout.