Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cleaning and refurbishing old cast iron.

I love cast iron. I think it is the easiest to use and clean. The only thing I dont like is how heavy it is. I have to take extra time and care handling it because I can hurt myself easily. It is so worth it to know that my family is eating healthy instead of being exposed to the chemicals that are in non stick surfaces. I have read that it can help add iron to your diet as well. Right now I am cleaning a old dutch oven. It was covered in rust.

I started by soaking it in vinegar. I am not sure if it matters what kind to use but I used apple cider vinegar. Which will from now one be referred to as ACV. White distilled vinegar is WDV. Just because I am a little lazy and prefer to shorten things. I left it sit overnight in my sink. I put some in the bottom part and added water to it. I think it was 30% ACV and the rest water. i then poured the same on the top.

Look at all of it coming up! I really should have taken pics before I started cleaning it, but like I said, I am lazy, or forgetful, or something. This is a pic of the "foam" it creates. It really did get rid of half of the rust that was coating this entire thing.

After I rinsed it all out and dried it, I started scouring off the rest with Baking Soda and steel wool. This dutch oven was so rusted it took me 3 months to get it in working order.

I scoured this thing like this for a week.

You can see there is still rust on the bottom. It isn't nearly as bad as the inside was. I hadn't even touched the outside with my scouring yet. The "wet" marks are where the oil dripped down from the top, when i had it sitting upright.

I did use many different techniques on this thing to try to get it right. This is where I baked oil on it in an effort to get under the rust. It did help. It helped bake off another layer of rust actually. I then used my steel wool and the baking soda again and got it even cleaner. The last part was the lid. I needed some extra help getting into the edges. I grabbed this wire brush and some oil and scrubbed it until it came off.

You can scrub it off with oil and steel wool, baking soda and steel wool, and bake it off and then scrub with whatever. When you finally got it clean you can wash it, dry it in the oven, then reseason it. My husband actually found this in an old lady's junk pile in the middle of a snow bank where it had been for many years. It is now one of my favorite things. There might have been an easier way to clean it. I have heard soaking it in lye works but that was too toxic for me.

The finished product. The lid from the top. Then the inside of the dutch oven itself.

Then the bottom of it. Because I had to actually have one picture where you could see before and after.

In order to season it, you coat it with oil, then bake it in the oven at 350 to 500 degrees. The oil coat needs to turn black. You should do it a couple of times. You need to put the pan upside down on the rack and put a cookie sheet that you don't like under it to catch the dripping oil.

I have used this to make all kinds of things already. I make a one pan casserole. I brown the meat, then add the potaotes and the other fixings then put it in the oven. From stovetop to oven. I do that with my skillets too. I have baked whole chickens, roasts, and even used it to make stock. I just took it on a camping trip. I can put it right into the coals to bake stuff. It was used to store food and keep it warm. Next time I would like to try and bake biscuits in it. I absolutely love how easy it is to keep clean. I dont have to scour it unless something sticks. Usually i just rinse with water and wipe it out, dry it off real good and re-oil it.

I am in love with my cast iron and already dreaming of restoring more. It satisfies me to get something for free that someone was going to throw away, make it like new again, and get 30 more years use out of it.

1 comment:

  1. I followed your advice to clean one of my pots that I loved and it worked perfectly! I thought it was ruined and now it is completely restored.

    Thanks for sharing this information. Who knew that vinegar and baking soda were so powerful?