NYG95GA Dork
10/13/08 2:43 p.m.

The highly informative coffee maker thread has made me realize that this forum is a fount of knowledge (not always concerning cars), and so I want to pose a question to the esoteric brain trust that is the GRM forum.

I recently came into possesion of a set of fairly old cast iron frying pans. The set includes 8, 10, 12, and 14 inch sizes. They haven't been used is some time, and have a light film of rust on them. I don't have a lot of experience using this classic type of pan, but remember hearing about a process whereby older cast iron pans can be "reconditioned", called "seasoning" the pan, IIRC. I would like to add these to my modest collection of cooking tools, but would like to get them in proper shape before making a wretched mess out of a meal because of a cooking vessel in poor condition.

Considering the unusally high experteise shown in the coffee maker thread, I felt certain the good people of this forum could steer me in the right direction concerning what I need to do in order to bring these old pans into service.

Thanks for your help.

John Brown
John Brown GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/13/08 2:46 p.m.

Dawn + 3M scrubber pad + dry + oil + temper at 300* for 2-3 hours in oven.

Woody GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/13/08 2:51 p.m.

You may want to try electrolytic rust removal as a first step.


Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
10/13/08 3:32 p.m.

John has it. Wash/derust them however you feel like, from a scrubber to bead blasting, whatever, then add cooking oil and bring it up to temp. My wife has one that saw duty on a covered wagon from her great grandmother. Still cooks just fine.

EastCoastMojo GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/13/08 3:44 p.m.

John has it right, but for a set of four pans you may need more than one scrubber pad.

MitchellC Reader
10/13/08 5:04 p.m.

For the big one's first duty, you must make fried chicken.

Wally SuperDork
10/13/08 7:20 p.m.

I wish I could get some cast iron pots, the closet I get is the occasional dutch oven.

10/13/08 7:21 p.m.

What did we do before the internet? Hear is a youtube video talking about cast iron pans.


jdmae92 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
10/13/08 7:40 p.m.

I have heard to coat the inside with Crisco then bake it. I guess it is the same effect as oil though.

curtis73 GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/13/08 8:30 p.m.

3M pads are great for getting the rust out.

Yup, seasoning is the word. Lube it up, wipe most of it out, bake it for a while. It doesn't need to be screaming hot, just enough to open the pores of the iron.

What makes a great iron skillet is the coating of carbon on it from years of use. I have one of my great grandmother's cast iron pans. If you look at it, the cooking surface is about the texture of satin black paint, not the rough grey casting it began with. Years of carbon have filled the pores.

To start building that "crust" make sure you never use soap. You may find for the first few decades that you have to soak it for 5 minutes in water to loosen up the bits that get stuck, but don't use soap. Not only will the soap soak into the pores and flavor future meals, but it will remove the oils and carbons that are left behind by those wonderful little chunks of food.

What I like to do is (after I take the food out) is throw in a cup of water while its still hot. That's an old Chinese secret to cleaning iron woks. It deglazes all the chunkies off and leaves the carbon intact.

if you're doing it right you should start to see the carbon crust forming around the outside near the lip. If it looks like you didn't clean it very well, you're on the right track :)

To give things a jump start, Mitchell has the right idea; fry something that requires a larger amount of oil, like chicken. I deep fry catfish and walleye in mine to get them started

Just remember, protein sticks, fat slicks. If you're browning a roast, expect it to stick like glue; more fat and more patience will prove worthwhile.

Osterkraut Reader
10/13/08 9:04 p.m.
MitchellC wrote: For the big one's first duty, you must make fried chicken.

Not like you make much fried chicken anyway.

NYG95GA Dork
10/14/08 12:19 a.m.

Dang, you folks are great!

That's exactly the info I was looking for, and will be implementing it soon.

I'll let y'all know how the fried chicken turns out.

Thanks for the help.

MitchellC Reader
10/14/08 2:41 a.m.
Osterkraut wrote: Not like you make much fried chicken anyway.

Alright Nancy, who was the one that cancelled last Thursday?

Our Preferred Partners