I’m one of those people who doesn’t read directions. I didn’t in school, I skip them when I get new electronics, and I ignored them when I got new cookware.
Well after I completely abused my first cast iron skillet, I learned my lesson. My mom gave it to me and asked me if I knew how to clean it. I rolled my eyes. YES MOM I CAN CLEAN A SKILLET. Silly me. I thought hand washing my new favorite piece of cookware with steel wool with soap and hot water, and allowing it to air dry was the right thing to do.
Once my skillet was looking dull and almost rusty, I decided to google: “cast iron care.”
So… I have learned my lesson. I DO read care instructions for my cookware. Thank goodness cast iron skillets are nearly indestructible, and you can bring them back to life.
Every now and then you may need to re-season your skillet. Even if you wash your skillet properly, if you are cooking with a lot of acid, it can start to get dull over time.
How can you tell if it is time to re-season your skillet? Drop a tiny drop of water on your skillet. If the drop stays in tact, still in almost a sphere, your skillet is still in good shape. If the drop spreads out on the pan and almost starts to absorb into the skillet, it is time to re-season, (see below for a skillet that needs to be seasoned.)
Here is how I saved my cast iron skillet. It is pretty easy, and gets your skillet looking better than new!
Completely clean your skillet. Give it a good scrub under hot water with soap. You are about to re-season it, so do not worry about how wrong this feels! After the scrub down, clean it again in the dishwasher. Once the dishwasher cycle is done, dry with a towel to ensure the skillet is completely dry.
Heat oven to 300° F. Place skillet in oven to heat up. After 15 minutes, remove skillet from the oven.
Preheat oven to 500° F, (or as high as your oven will go) with a rack set in the center of the oven. With a paper towel, rub about 1 T of flax seed oil all over the skillet in a thin, even coat. Make sure this coat is thin and even, because it is basically a layer of non-stick paint.
Place skillet on rack in center of oven, upside down. “Cook” for 1 hour and then turn off heat. After the oven cooks for about 3 hours, remove skillet from the oven.
Repeat steps 3 and 4, three more times.