Re-Seasoning My Cast Iron Cookware

Originally posted at Simple Is Working – 9/3/11

During our preparations for Hurricane Irene, I unpacked our car camping gear and got out my cast iron cookware.  When I saw them I was embarrassed!  I hadn’t cleaned them properly the last time we used them (about 5-6 years ago) and they were all rusty and nasty looking.

Seasoning your cast iron cookware is one of those projects that there just never seems to be enough time to do.

You think that oh I can just use them and they will season themselves up right away.  One problem we don’t use them for daily cooking, they are in the garage for storage and we only use them for car camping or during emergency cooking times in the garage.

This was one of the Hurricane Irene after-action report to-do list items and it was something that I wanted to get done sooner than later.

Where to do it?

Seasoning cast iron cookware is not something that you want to do in the house, it is too smokey and makes the house stink, because you are burning vegetable oil onto the cookware, the smell will last for days.  So I knew that I would use my grill outdoors to season my cast iron cookware.

First fix this problem.

That was the first problem of the day, every time I go to use my grill I have to fight with the mud wasps to get it to work right. They believe that the propane tubes are great places to put their nests.  So I had to take the grill apart to clean out the tubes.  While was doing that I went ahead and did a thorough cleaning of the whole grill. That took about 45 minutes that I hadn’t planned on, but the best part was that it worked like a charm when I got ready to season my cookware.

After all who cleans an $88 grill, you use it until it doesn’t work anymore and then throw it out – right.  Wrong I now take the time to repair things and see why they don’t work – part of becoming more frugal and being on a small fixed income.

Pictures of the re-seasoning effort.

Yes I am going out-of-order with the first two pictures – be warned.

This my second set of pans I put in the “grill” and they still look this bad is after I sanded and re-oiled the pans – not good.

Here is the first set of pans that I attempted to re-season, I forgot to wipe-out the vegetable oil and had a baked on mess in these two pans. I also didn’t put the pans upside down, so the oil would drip out and leave a flat coating on the bottom of the pan. It was a mess and I had to scrap the bottom in both and sand out some of the stuff in the pan on the right and then start over  The joys of not having done something in a long time.

Below is the result – not a professional job, but the pans are now re-seasoned and read use without embarrassing myself.

The pair of pans at the top of the picture look a lot better than the first set, that is for sure.  That is why you should experiment on something not as nice the first time and that way have a little practice for the good stuff :).
I of course did it backwards.

For a lot more information on seasoning and cooking with cast iron pans a good place to start is:

The Irreplaceable Cast Iron PansSeasoning cast iron pans and skillets – Cleaning cast iron cookware

That chore has now been crossed off my todo list, but I really do feel good about what I got done today (once I remembered a couple of things from my past).  I have always loved cooking with cast iron pans and bringing these back to being usable was a good feeling – now to slide one inside and start using it for cooking in the house ;).
Also cleaning up the grill and making it work again, instead of just going out and buying a new one, like I have done in the past was pretty cool too.  Now to go and re-fill the propane tank 3 hours of constant use finished it off.

All these little things that I am doing around the house lately, give me a good sense of self-sufficiency and that I am doing my part to save us some money, by repairing what I can or taking the time to do a little TLC to have something last longer.

I really believe that I am starting to look at things very differently than I did just a few months ago.

It is a good thing!