Cast iron pots are being used by more and more people. Thrift stores, Second-hand shops, and online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are all great places to find them.
They are easy to cook on, take a lot of abuse, and are relatively easy to maintain if you know how. There are many websites on the internet and on YouTube that show how to care for cast iron pots and the information can be overwhelming as many people have different ideas and opinions on what is the best manner to care for them.
I recently found three pans made of cast iron that was rusted and grungy looking when I found them and tried 3 different methods of cleaning and seasoning them. Now, I am sharing those three methods and even some alternatives to restoring, cleaning, and seasoning your cast iron pots. I have also included some hints on how to store your cast iron pots. Hopefully, this will take the guesswork out of their care.
How to Restore Cast Iron Pots
To restore cast iron you have to remove the rust from the pot before you can do anything else. Here are 3 ways to do so.
This first method uses steel wool.
- Scrub entire pan with a dry steel wool pad until rust is completely gone. (this includes the handle, the sides, and the bottom.)
- Wash the pan with a mild soap and water, rinse completely.
- Wipe dry with a clean towel.
- Drizzle cooking oil onto the pan and wipe the entire pan until the pan is completely coated in oil.
- Wipe dry again with a clean towel.
- Place in a preheated oven at 350° for 1 hour.
- Let pan completely cool inside the oven or on the stovetop.
- Repeat the oiling and baking process until pan comes out looking new. (may take 3 to 4 times)
This method uses a vinegar and water soak.
- Clean cast iron pot with soap and water.
- Soak the pot in a solution of half vinegar and half water. (make sure the pan or pot is completely submerged.)
- Let soak in solution for 1 to 4 hours. (no longer) (acid in vinegar dissolves rust.)
- Remove from solution.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Dry thoroughly. (if rust still shows use a fine sandpaper to remove and rinse again, dry.)
- Coat entire pot with cooking oil.
- Wipe again and place in an oven at 350° oven for 1 hour.
- Let pan cool completely.
- Repeat the oiling and baking process until the pan looks new. (may take 3 to 4 times.)
This method uses salt and a potato.
- Add about a half of a cup of coarse salt to the bottom of the pan or pot.
- Cut a potato in half.
- Use the half of the potato, cut side down and rub the salt into the pan in a circular motion. (scrub the entire pot.)
- Rinse and repeat as necessary.
- Dry on the stovetop for 2 to 5 minutes on low heat.
- Season with oil as above.
- Heat on the stovetop on low for 30 minutes.
How to Season Cast Iron Pots
Seasoning cast iron pots are necessary to ensure the continued safe use of the pot. Seasoning the pot should be done after each use.
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Wash with soap and water.
- Rinse, dry thoroughly.
- Add oil to the pot and rub in thoroughly. (the entire pot)
- Place the pot or pan upside down on center rack in preheated oven.
- Place aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch any drips.
- Bake 1 hour.
- Turn off the heat and let the pot or pan cool completely.
- Check for rust or dull spots and repeat the process until pot looks new and shiny.
How to Maintain Cast Iron Pots After Use
After using your cast iron pot or pan it is wise to repeat the seasoning process. This will ensure years of safe use for your family.
- Rinse after use with hot water. (do not use soap)
- Dry pot thoroughly.
- Place on low heat on stove top. Allow the pan to smoke.
- Coat pan with oil.
- Place on stove top until the smoking stops.
- Let cool. Store.
Check out Epicurious post on care for cast iron pots here.
Cast iron pots will become your favorite cooking pot if taken care of properly. Some things to note…Do not use soap once your pots have been restored. Soap is not beneficial if used on a regular basis, only when restoring your pot. Also, using a soak of vinegar and water is ok, but watch your pot while soaking. Vinegar will remove the rust but if left in the solution to long it will start eating away at the cast iron.
When storing your cast iron pots it is best to store them inside of the oven. If you must store them in a cabinet or pantry, always keep air flow between the pots and the lids to prevent rusting.
Do you use cast iron pots for cooking? How do you season your pots and where do you store them?