How to Clean a Cast Iron Pan
How to clean rust from a cast iron piece and how to regularly care for your cast iron
So, one day, I left my cast iron pan a little wet after washing it. And of course, it rusted. This is superficial rust, so luckily I only need soap and steel wool to remove it. I can easily scrub it off. If it’s deeper rust, there’s a vinegar soak method you can use (per the Lodge website). As I scrub, I’ll rinse to check my progress. And get back to scrubbing until there’s no trace of rust left. Also, heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Dry it thoroughly - if you have a larger pan, it’s easier to heat it on the stovetop to evaporate any moisture.
Now that I’ve scrubbed off any seasoning with the steel wool, I get to re-season the pan! Get an oil with a high burn point. I’m using ghee. Olive oil won’t work for this. Lard or tallow is awesome for this. Put a little, like less than a teaspoon, depending on the size of your pan, of the fat in the pan, and set it in the preheating oven for 5 minutes to melt the fat.
After 5 minutes, let the fat drizzle around and take a paper towel to spread it evenly and up the sides. Now put your well-coated pan back into the oven for an hour.
After an hour, let the pan cool for 10 minutes and take another paper towel to CAREFULLY wipe out any remaining oil. If it didn’t bake into the pan, you want to wipe it up so your pan isn’t sticky. You can repeat this process a few more times if you want to be thorough. Or season it after every time you use it. So let’s go over that!
I frequently use my small cast iron pans to reheat leftovers, like thai red curry. So, I’m going to wash it with soap and the scruffy side of a sponge. It’s fine, you won’t scrub off the seasoning. Because the oil breaks down into polymerized oil in the heat and it turns into an almost plastic-like substance. Rinse out the soap, dry thoroughly, and heat it. Take a tad of oil on a paper towel and rub it into your hot pan. Let the pan keep heating until it almost smokes. Then wipe in another light layer of oil. Your pan is done! The best thing you can do is keep cooking in it. That will continue building the seasoning of your pan which contributes both flavor and non-stick-ability.
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