How To Clean Cast Iron

Cleaning Cast Iron To Remove Rust

Some Things In Life Are Better Left Unchanged

Technology has brought major changes to our lives. Does anyone miss typewriters and gallons of white out typo correction fluid? Would you trade your radar oven for any of those 1950s TV dinners? How would you possibly survive today's hectic life style without drive thru fast food?

However for many homemakers there are some things that just don't seem to require updating. Even in today's modern homes there always seems to be a standard issue cast iron skillet. Some have been passed on by grandparents. Others are newly purchased.

Whatever their origin any homemaker from the 19th century and earlier would recognize your cast iron skillet because it most probably is made in exactly the same way they have been for hundreds of years. Certainly the manufacturing process has been updated but the material and finished product are surely identical to the models used over a wood stove a hundred years ago.

Cast iron cooking has not only been a staple but also a preferred method of food preparation since man discovered how to convert raw iron ore into cast iron. Despite all the modern techniques added to cast iron cookware such as enameled surfaces, non stick coatings and others. most cooks would prefer to use a plain old uncoated cast iron skillet.

It Is The Seasoning Of Cast Iron That Makes It Special

The ability of these utensils to absorb juices created during frying into their properly seasoned surface which keeps those unwanted liquids out of the finished food is one of the reasons food just tastes better out of cast iron cookware.

However just like almost everything in life there are some downsides to this material. It is heavy and if roughly handled may break or even shatter if molded in super thin material such as is found in some Asian woks.

The fact that it is fairly easy to still find hundred year old skillets testifies to their endurance. However there is a potential problem if they are not properly protected. Because they are produced from iron ore they will if left unattended attempt to rust and return to their natural state. Fortunately this is a simple problem to cure.

It is not difficult to remove rust when cleaning cast iron. Any cast iron cookware that has a mild rust appearance can be washed in mild soap and water, thoroughly dried and then seasoned. Seasoning is a simple task and you can read about it here. Seasoning Cast Iron.

How To Remove Rust And Clean Cast Iron Skillets

If you have a skillet or other cast iron cooking utensil that has become severely rusted then a more aggressive cleaning process is in order. There are a few methods that can be used that have proven effective over many years.

First pour a little vegetable oil in the skillet and add a small amount of salt and scouring powder. Now take a raw potato and cut it in half. Using the fresh cut surface of the potato scour the surface. As the potato takes on a glazed surface, remove a thin slice and use the newly created surface to continue scouring.

In many cases using this method and a little effort the utensil can be brought back to near new condition ready for seasoning. For very serious rust you can fill a plastic container such as a dish pan with Coca Cola. Immerse the skillet in this liquid and let it soak overnight.

Vinegar is another solution for soaking rusted cast iron. Vinegar may be a little more aggressive so it would be a good idea to keep checking the item and remove it from the solution once it is clean. After cleaning thoroughly dry the item by placing it over a stove burner at low heat and then season the surface as mentioned above.

Cleaning and seasoning a cast iron skillet is not difficult and if proper rinsed, dried and stored properly will require very little maintenance. Your grandmother might not approve of all those pesky new fangled gadgets and cooking utensils in your kitchen but she would be proud to see you putting that old  cast iron skillet through it's paces.