Cast iron love affair

Everyone has heard of cast iron but not everyone has used one . I personally LOVE mine . when taken care of properly it will literally last a lifetime .”Seasoning” the skillet is the most important thing in keeping it around and worthy of the cabinet space . Most new ones bought at the store come pre-seasoned to a point and the more you use it the better it will be . But if you are like me and found a hidden treasure covered in rust and looking like a train wreck there are ways to bring it back to the original beauty it once was. The way that I found that worked for me is to first use steel wool and remove the rust and bake the skillet in a 250 oven turned upside down on a cookie sheet for 1 1/2 to 2 hours to allow all the oils and grease to drain off as it heats up. Remember you just baked a piece of cast iron so it will melt your skin off if you touch it , Take it out and use oven mitts to handle it and again with the steel wool to take off any rust or grease that is left , WATER IS THE DEVIL when it comes to cast iron but once you have scrubbed it clean rinse off any steel wool fibers and in order to prevent rust put it on a medium heat burner and allow it to heat up and evaporate any water and the pores will open up once hot , heat it for about 10 minutes to be sure all the water is out and then the you are going to rub it down including the handle and outside with the oil of your choice , olive oil , bacon grease, whatever you want and as it cools the pores will shrink locking in the oil and therefore “seasoning’ the skillet . Then once seasoned it will be non stick for the most part and every time you use it the seasoning will build up and be amazing ! I have a certain way that I clean mine after using it that works great for me , After im done cooking it i put about a half inch of water in the bottom of it on top of and pan drippings that are left and i heat that up to a heavy boil and use a spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the skillet to break up and thing that may have stuck and then pour it all out and put the skillet back on the burner empty to evaporate any water for about 10 minutes and the rub it down with a paper towel with another layer of what ever oil you want as it cools and then it is perfect and ready for the next time . for heavy use or for stubborn pan drippings I use a coarse seat salt to scour the pan and then back to the steps I listed before .  I  have a nice heavy 10 inch skillet to use when making something in the oven in it or a big batch of fried chicken on the stove top but it is rather heavy so i also have a 8 inch skillet that is perfect size for me .  then the holy grail .. the dutch oven , this thing is built like a tank it can be used in oven or on the grill or directly over a bed of hot coals . I hope the next time you see that sickly looking cast iron at a garage sale you will pick it up and try the things I have told you about to  bring that beauty queen back to her original state , I promise you will not regret it ! There are a ton of recipes for cast iron for the camp fire or even the oven , google it and give it some of them a try  !
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