How many of you have had cast iron and the non-stick surface became a pitted metal that even the greasiest of foods would stick? (I am raising my hand on this one). For years I was told by Granny to wash the skillet with real hot water and wipe out with a paper towel. Move it to a lit burner and heat the pan. After the pan is smoking hot, add oil to coat the pan on the inside and out.
These were the instructions she gave for an old cast iron skillet that she gifted to me. I was young, and was not that skilled in the kitchen. This pan grew on the outside and became charbroiled hunks that got bigger and bigger until getting chiseled off. It was not really non-stick. I lost the pan in a divorce.
Fast forward 10 years…..
When going through the divorce I decided to buy a used set of enameled cast iron. I admiring cooking in these jewels. But through the years they have pitted finishes. My large stock pot with the letter D on the bottom did not come with a lid. This pot has deteriorated to the point that the surface is almost like sand and the edges are rusting.
To care for your enameled cast iron, use baking soda to get the hard to get stuff off. Otherwise wash in warm soapy water. The new pans can go in the dishwasher….wooohooo. The old and vintage need a little elbow grease. Sometimes a stain will occur in these dune finished pans. Simply dilute some peroxide and boil on the stove. The stain will disappear. Proceed to wash with warm soapy water and your pot looks new all over again.
Along the way I have also tried seasoned cast iron again. I kept doing how Granny taught me, but my omelets would stick. The only thing I could cook in them and not stick…..tortilla patties. The key to the success of omelets and tortillas was butter instead of oil.
But no matter what I did, the finish of my pan was pitted. I tried all different scenarios on the internet and then come across a product that worked. The key to keeping your cast iron seasoned cook ware non stick is as follows:
- Purchase flaxseed oil (keeping it refrigerated at all times)
- Clean out pan using the hot water technique and have a good scraper on hand for the hard to release bits. In hot water long enough not much scraping is needed.
- Dry inside and outside of pan with a paper towel
- Move pan to a burner. Turn burner on medium.
- Once pan starts having a little tornado of smoke arise, add about a tablespoon of flaxseed oil.
- Using a paper towel, wipe flaxseed oil to coat inside of pan and proceed to do the same for the outside of the pan (less critical)
- Move to a preheated oven set at 400 degrees and bake upside down for one hour.
- Your non-stick coating may take a few passes of this process
- Before you know it, you will not have to do this every time you use the pan.
My pan looks shiny and new. I cooked omelets this morning and you cannot even tell. Cast iron is amazing. This pan is lodge and is the lid of a bigger pan. The design is genius. As I age, it is inevitable the weight of these pans will bother me. At that time I will be able to pass them down, this was definitely a lifetime purchase.