Re-seasoning my grandmother’s cast iron pans (and a lesson in being hasty)

When Titus and I got married I bought the Rachel Ray pots and pans set. My mom tried to tell me that it might not be the healthiest way to cook, but I told it was fine since I had made sure that it wasn’t aluminum. 

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What I failed to research though, are the health risks connected to cooking on non-stick cookware.  The more I’ve read about it the more I’m convinced that it isn’t the way I want to go with my pots and pans.  There are so many things I want to do or buy to help my family be healthy and can’t afford it. But cooking on something healthier is something I can do help protect my family.  So in the last few months I have decided to switch to cast iron cookware.   There are a lot of benefits to cooking on cast iron which this post isn’t about, go google it yourself. 😉 

This post is about inheriting two of my grandmother’s pans. Okay I didn’t really inherit them in the sense that she left to directly to me.  When my grandparents died everything was left in the house that they had lived in.  I asked my aunt and uncle if I could have any of the cast iron pans that were left in the house.  They said sure, so I have two of them.  Since they haven’t been used in such a long time they needed to be stripped and re-seasoned. I think one of the very best things about cast iron is that you can’t ruin it! I even read about a guy that fixed his cast iron pan that broke in two.  When considering having a large family having indestructible things around is a good idea! 🙂

I got a really neat square pan.  I’ve never seen one like the before! It’s great for french toast!

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And I got a regular round one.

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And at a second hand store a few weeks ago I found this cute little guy.

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The following directions did not originate with me. I followed this blog post pretty much to the T:

http://www.ibelieveicanfry.com/2010/12/reconditioning-re-seasoning-cast-iron.html

All I did was spray oven cleaner on each pan and let it soak for a few days. She recommends wearing gloves when you do this. I recommend wearing gloves for each stage!  This process is very hard on your hands. I ended up with very very dry hands with multiple burns!

Sprayed with oven cleaner:

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soaking in trash bags

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After a few days I wiped them all off with paper towels and sprayed them again and let them sit another few days.  After that I soaked them in water and vinegar for about 60 min.

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After that I scrubbed them down and put them in a super hot oven, 500 degrees.  I only had olive oil on hand to grease them with.  Next time I’d like to try lard and see how that works.  Every 30 minutes I had to put more oil on and every 15 minutes I had to wipe them down to avoid pooling.  Even doing this my round pan did pool a little bit.

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After letting them cool completely this is what they look like now:

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Julia’s pans are very golden, and I’m not sure why mine didn’t turn out the same way.  The only way I could get mine to look that way was to have my flash on when I took the picture.

And the first thing I cooked in each one (just to prove nothing blew up!)

Pork and Mandarin oranges

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Fried egg. It’s going to take some time getting used to cooking on cast iron.  It’s a really hot pan so my eggs bubbled up a little bit.

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And monkey bread (I love the fact that you can bake in the pans too!)

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I do think I was too fast in trying to re-season my pans.  I think I should have let them sit a few more days in the trash bags with oven cleaner.  I was in such a hurry though because I really wanted to write this post. 😉 And because I had already boxed up my other pots and pans and needed these.  Also I just happened to be doing this project the week Gideon kind of freaked out and was crying all. day. long.  I just wanted to be done with the pans.  The round one especially doesn’t look great, and today after cleaning it I think I saw some rust which means I didn’t scrub all of it off after the vinegar soak.  I do regret being so fast to get it done.  But the good thing is that I didn’t ruin the pans.  I can always re-season them again if I want to.  And maybe not do all of them at the same time so I’m not so hard up for pans.

I wish my grandma was still alive so I could ask her where she got the pans.  Did they originate with her? Or did she get some passed down from a mother or grandmother?  I’ll never know, but it’s still special cooking on them.  Maybe one day I’ll pass them down to Faith, and she can cook on her great-grandmother’s pans. 😀

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5 responses to “Re-seasoning my grandmother’s cast iron pans (and a lesson in being hasty)

  1. Phillips Family

    We made the switch two years ago and never looked back. I bought three pans from the thrift shop and never striped them. I just re-seasoned them and they work wonderfully.
    I could never use a chemical on them seeing they absorb.

  2. Love cast iron! Loved this story! And maybe I should try that seasoning method. Are you sure that oven cleaner is healthy?? Sorry, just had to ask! I have to say though that I haven’t been totally successful with reseasoning all of mine. So maybe something drastic is needed.

  3. I got to clean my great aunt’s house. There was a very rusty cast iron pan in her oven. I oiled it well and put it in the oven at about 650 for maybe an hour. It is perfectly black and smooth – like new.

  4. If you read the link I put in my post she answers a lot of the questions regarding using oven cleaner (and if you need more info go down and read all the comments). I felt like she had enough education and research behind what she was saying about using the oven cleaner. If your pans don’t have rust on them then you probably don’t need to strip them, just re-seasoning them would be good enough. My hadn’t been used for such a long time that I felt like it needed it.

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