Cast Iron Makeover

One of the perks to a biking lifestyle is that you're always up close and personal with free piles. On the way home the other day, Jason spotted two cast iron skillets that were more orange from rust than black. We have a rule here in our tiny house, that we can't bring anything home free unless we have an immediate plan for it. If we can't put it to use the next day, it has to stay at the curb. This prevents endless "I'm going to get to that someday" piles.

So we started the makeover the very next day, because cast iron skillets are an amazing kitchen essential and we wanted to keep them around.

Here's how they looked before:

rusty cast iron skilletrusty cast iron skillet(EEEEKKK!)
 

My research on the internet pointed me to a technique that used course salt and a halved potato, and while that kind of worked, I had much better results when I broke out the big bad steel wool. After a dab of a little bacon grease, and a bit of scrubbing, both skillets magically transformed with a dark glossy finish. Magic I tell you.

steel wool and skillet

Next I rinsed off the steel particles and placed the skillets in the oven - set at 250. Once the water evaporated, I coated the skillets' entire surface with more bacon grease. The last step was to place the fat coated skillets in the oven for another hour of baking, and by doing this, the skillets are getting re seasoned. It's recommended to do this often to keep your cast iron skillets in their prime condition, and to avoid (gasp!) them rusting over. This is why they're so amazing. When cooking with them, they're completely non stick!

(Note: vegetarians, or anyone grossed out by bacon grease, can use vegetable oil. Using bacon fat, for me, felt like I was following an age old tradition)

Here's how they looked after scrubbing, greasing, and baking:

cast iron skillet beautifiedcast iron skillet looking good

It's like we bought brand new skillets. They look amazing.

The small skillet past the test by cooking a perfect omelet that did not stick at all. Admittedly, I have never flipped an omelet with such ease and satisfaction since I ditched the teflon days.

eggs in skilleta beautiful omlette

I hope this tutorial helps if you ever catch someone neglecting their cast iron ware. Just remember: keep them greased, try not to ever use soap for cleaning, and never let them sit with water for long periods of time.