Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Clean a Cast Iron Pan

As I mentioned the other day I finally got a cast iron pan!!! This is very exciting to me because, one, I have been looking for one for a while, and 2, I love cooking lately, and now have one of the most versitile cooking tools ever made in my arsenal.

When I say I have been looking for one, it is easy to just say "well they are for sale everywhere" which is true, but I wanted to "find" one, a pan I dont know everything about, but that can me my recovery and rescue project.

Last week I was at Goodwill with the family on what the boys like to call a treasure hunt, and low and behold, there it was a rusty, gunky, old, cast iron frying pan!

In to the cart it went, but being the way I am, I couldnt wait to use it. I couldnt cook with it in its current condition, so the refurbishment process began... it is remarkably easy, and here is where this post will double as a how to for you.

Here is a look at the pan in the condition it came home in, Rust spots, and a lot of stuck on "gunk".

Step one, combine oil and salt in the pan, about a tablespoon of each is plenty. With a paper towel.

Scrub vigerously all over the pan. The oil makes it easy to slide around, and the salt acts as sand paper.

As the paper towel becomes full of the "gunk" get a clean one and keep scrubbing. you will not need more salt or oil, as there will likely be plenty left in the pan. The salt will start to turn brown, as long as it is still crystalized, the color wont matter.

Focus the scrubbing on parts that have extra grime on them , or are rusty. Repeat until the paper towel only yields a faint brown hue after scrubbing the pan.

Now that the pan is clean, you can recondition it. This is a simpler process. First Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Lightly coat the inside of the pan with oil. you can spread it with a paper towel, as this only needs to be a very light coat.

Cook the pan empty for 30 minutes. Then take it out and reapply the oil. Repeat this step 3 more times. Take it out and let it cool off.

Voila!! It is ready to use!!! I love cooking with cast iron, because, it is naturally non stick, to put this to the test, I decided to fry an egg. Eggs always stick if you dont spray the pan enough, so I tried it. no problem, it came right off. It does leave the surface a bit brown, so if you like your eggs perfectly yellow and white, you may still want to poach them for a while.

I took the one fried egg, and combined it with peppers, onions, and parsley, and fried that all up. Another great thing about it, still only one dirty dish.

I then took that mixture, and stuffed it into omeletts. The flavor was great!

When done, I took just a tiny bit of salt, and scrubbed the pan, anything in there comes off much easier now that it has not been sitting dirty for who knows how long.

So instead of paying a ton for a new cast iron pan, feel free to grab that old vintage one at the thrift store, now you know how to restore it.


  1. I really love that you gave this little pan a new life. Thank you for your tutorial on how to clean it! Meals cooked in cast iron DO taste so much better. I don't think I could live without my cast iron tagine base...

    (Popping in from the Etsy Blog Team!)

  2. Oooh, good to know! I see pans like this all the time at various thrift stores, but I never knew how to clean them.

  3. So glad to know this! I recently got a set of Le Creuset pans, one being a non-enameled cast iron pan. It is already starting to get a little gunky (maybe I'm not cleaning it properly to begin with?) but will have to try this out once it gets super scuzzy!