Monday, September 19, 2011

From Ugly Ducklings To Swans

Today (I lied, it was yesterday) I set about getting my "new" cast iron pans ready for duty. First order of business? Decide how I was going to tackle their rust issues. After some investigating I felt the easiest (and cheapest) method would be to soak them  in a tub of vinegar. I have plenty of white vinegar on hand, as that is what I use for fabric softener. I poured a gallon of vinegar into a plastic Rubbermaid shoe box, inserted the first of the pans and added just enough water to cover. I didn't want to dilute the vinegar too much. I let the pan soak for a couple of hours.

Then I removed the pan from the vinegar and put it into some fresh water to which I added a tablespoon of baking soda to neutralize the acid. I used a wire brush, followed by steel wool, to remove every bit of the rust. Then I coated the pans in lard and baked them for 2 hours at 350 degrees. I let them cool and then repeated that seasoning process twice more per pan. Here are before and after pictures of the pans.

Small Pan Before Restoration

Small Pan After Stripping

Small Pan After Seasoning

Medium Pan Before Restoration

Medium Pan After Stripping

Medium Pan After Seasoning

Large Pan Before Stripping
(The bottom of this pan looked good)

Large Pan After Stripping

Large Pan After Seasoning

I am very happy with the method I chose for removing the rust. It did a great job, quickly and easily, and without removing all the original seasoning. I'm not a collector and do not care one bit if my pans look perfect. They worked hard for that seasoning and I see absolutely no reason to strip them all the way down to bare metal. The vinegar removed only the rust. With a few uses the coloring will even out. I used both the small and medium pans, today. LOVE THEM! Even more than I thought I would. After my 3 coats of seasoning the pans are perfectly non-stick. Here's the small pan frying up our morning eggs.

And the medium pan making a grilled cheese sandwich.

I will never go back to those lame, worthless Teflon fry pans. These cast iron pans work great on my glass topped range (which I loathe). The pans are flat so they heat up quickly and evenly...unlike my Teflon pans with their weird concave bottoms. Clean up is a snap. NO SOAP! Run them under hot water and scrub with a nylon Quickie brush. Then set them back onto the warm burner to dry and coat them with a little bit of corn oil. That's it. Easie peasie. Treated properly they should never rust again.


NewlyAwakened said...

I am sooo happy you got your pans! Also happy you went with the vinegar method and not the oven cleaner. I was going to say something... but figured you research stuff and would decide against it :) I did the same thing with mine (vinegar and elbow grease) and didn't want to strip it down to the metal and just left the older black seasoning as is. I read a lot about not cooking eggs or that it ruins the pans. I always fry my eggs on my cast and it does well. I think it may be from people who don't have it seasoned well enough. Anyway, congrats on the great deals.

crazihippichic said...

Yes, the research is half the fun. Who needs classes when we have Google.

I agree that those who warn against frying eggs in the pans just haven't seasoned them well enough. That's why I did it 3 times, to make sure I had a nice non-stick layer. My smallest skillet is in the best shape, having retained most of it's original seasoning. I fried in it twice today and the coloring is already looking very even.

I've threatened to dismember anyone who leaves them in water.