Traditional cast iron cookware can be intimidating and daunting for those unfamiliar with owning and maintaining it. Myths abound about the “proper” way to season and clean cast iron cookware, but the truth is with a couple minutes of effort and some common household supplies, you can season and maintain your cast iron skillet, grill pan, or griddle - and, it will last you the rest of your life!
This week, we here at Consiglio’s tackle restoring a rusted, neglected cast iron grill pan, restoring its beautiful finish and ensuring it will last year (if not decades) to come! For this article, we'll be working with an old Lodge 26cm square cast iron grill pan, though the method will work just as well for any of the Lodge cast iron cookware, or old cast iron in general.
For those unfamiliar with cast iron cookware, there are a slew of benefits to its use:
The one major downside with cast iron cookware is that it can rust very easily if not maintained. The good news is, this is fast, easy and inexpensive to fix yourself! Whether you’re well-meaning babysitter threw your cast iron skillet in the dishwasher, you inherited an old, rusty grill pan, or you just fell behind on maintaining your griddle, you can remove the rust and re-season your cast iron in no time!
Sad, old rusty grill pan
The first step in restoring your cast iron is to remove the rust buildup. To do this, grab some steel wool and scrub the rust off of the surface. Yes, it really is that easy. I recommend wearing some rubber dish gloves when working with steel wool to protect against small cuts and splinters.
Half-way through scrubbing
Within 5 minutes of scrubbing, I was able to remove all of the rust off of the grill pan pictured above. Once you think you’ve got it all, wipe the pan out with some paper towel, rinse it under some running water, and dry thoroughly. Still see some rust? Grab the steel wool and give your cast iron another scrub, making sure to get the handle and all external surfaces. Repeat this process of scrubbing/rinsing/ drying until the rust is all gone.
Once the rust has been removed, it’s time to season your cast iron. To do this, you’ll want to make sure that your pan has been dried thoroughly, both outside and inside - if working with a grill pan, make sure to dry between the raised ribs!
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and use a paper towel to coat the pan in a thin, even layer of cooking oil. For the pan used in the images shown here, I used vegetable oil, though coconut oil, peanut oil or canola oil will all work well - the trick is to make sure that you coat the entire surface, including the handle and external surface. Once oiled, pop the pan into the preheated oven for an hour; when the hour’s up, turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven for another hour. Your cast iron skillet or grill pan should now have a gorgeous coat of seasoning!
Good as new!
Now that your cast iron pan has been restored and seasoned, you’ll want to make sure to keep it that way! The best way to keep your pan well seasoned is to cook with it, so make sure to use it often. After use, clean your pan with a bit of dish soap and hot water - the Lodge scrapers and grill pan scrapers also work wonders to remove any stuck on bits. Once clean, completely dry the inside and the outside of the pan, and rub with a very thin coat of oil - your cast iron skillet is now ready to store.
I own a Staub grill pan and cast iron skillet. I believe that the surface is supposed to be coated with some sort of non stick material. <br />I find that I have a terrible time cleaning this by hand. Food sticks to the surface and it is difficult to remove without using a dishwasher . <br />Any suggestions?l
I did not correctly season a Le Creuset crepe pan, and now it has "shadow marks" from the original items cooked in the pan. Can these be removed and/or the pan seasoned to remove these marks?
Another thing you can do with a pan that's in rough shape is put it into your self-cleaning oven for the cleaning cycle. This will literally burn off any old seasoning (as well as baked on soil) and get you down to an almost virgin surface. A light rub-down with 0000 steel wool will get any remaining soil off, at which point you can wash, dry and season your pan. <br /><br />Some people swear by flaxseed oil as substance to season with you… Apparently, it forms an almost indestructible coating on the surface of the iron, much stronger than vegetable oil does. Others prefer shortening or lard, or even bacon grease. <br /><br />I don't use soap on my cast iron unless if been deep frying in it. Hot water and a dish cloth are usually sufficient to clean a well seasoned pan. Then, I use paper towels to dry the pan , because it's usually a teeny bit greasy. But that's what you want; a thin film of oil on the surface to maintain the seasoning.