Farming Advice: How to Season and Clean Cast Iron Pans

Farming advice from MOTHER and her readers, including how to season and clean cast iron pans and a recipe for cast iron cornbread.

| June/July 1997

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their farming advice, fun tips and country folklore, including information on how to season and clean cast iron pans. 

In our grandmother's day, cast iron was the cookware to own. It was durable, it heated evenly, it never warped, and it kept its slick, no-stick finish forever with just a small amount of maintenance. Using the grand old cast iron cookware can turn out meals that will not only be a source of pleasure, but will also please the most particular palate. For all the good things we can say about cast iron, one problem exists. Cast iron pieces rust if not not taken care of properly. But with just a few short steps, we can cover that same rusty skillet with a satiny finish, ready for the next delicious pan of cornbread. If you purchase a new cast iron piece, you will need to clean and season it before you can use it, this article shares how to season and clean cast iron pans. If you don't season it, the food will stick. It is that simple. Favorite pieces that have been in the family for years can benefit from a new seasoning, too.

To season any cast iron item, follow these directions:

1. Wash the cast iron piece in hot soapy water to remove all machine oil and gum from labels. At this stage of cleaning, soap is safe to use. However, after a piece is seasoned, don't use soap because it will remove the seasoning and you will have to start all over again.

2. Dry the piece thoroughly.

3. Preheat the oven (gas or electric) to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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