How to restore a rusty skillet ...

Thank you, Lori T. I have done the work and got rid of the rust, and it was not the onerous chore I thought it might be. I plan to cook something easy like fried eggs and mushrooms in it soon. I will keep away from, or avoid prolonged contact with tomatoes and vinegar. Now, I just want to discover what are the best recipes to use the skillet for.

One further question - if the skillet is not a big mess without lots of debris, do you need to do the oiling and baking the pan in the oven for an hour every time?

Thanks for your detailed explanation, and the time you put in to help a skillet novice!

Heather Baker


Nancy October 26, 2020
A few more foods to add to those already mentioned:
▪︎bake a cake;
▪︎make pancakes;
▪︎make soup or stew.
Lori T. October 26, 2020
Glad to hear the work to clear the rust went well. If you haven't already done so, now is the time to oil and bake your skillet. That's what people are referring to when they talk about seasoning or re-seasoning a skillet. And no, it's not a process you need to do each time you use it. Ideally it would be a once and done thing, and only need to be redone on the odd chance that the seasoning coat was damaged or a bit thin in a spot. What you will need to do is perfect the routine maintenance after each use. That's really easy to do as well. If you just fried something, then all you need to do really is remove excess oil by pouring it out. Then you can wipe out your skillet with a clean paper towel. If you really feel you "must" wash, then do so under hot running water, and use no more than a sponge to wipe it out. No soap needed- or really wanted. Then you dry it well, and put it on the stove for a few minutes on low heat to make sure it's dry. Then a few drops of oil, rubbed all around the inside surface and a teensy bit on the outside- and store away in a nice dry space. Best things to cook in a cast iron skillet? Roasted or fried potatos! Nice steaks or chops, to get the best crust ever. If sweet is on your mind, look for recipes for skillet cakes. Or heat your skillet up in the oven, and plop in some homemade pizza crust. Get that half baked, and top with a smear of sauce, toppings and cheese- and bake until the crust is done. And definitely bread - cornbread, rolls, biscuits, even hearth breads - using the skillet as the baking pan. Roast a chicken, a beef or pork roast. Then make the pan sauce in the pan while the meat rests - and get every single delicious brown bit that was made into the sauce. Roast veggies of all sorts in it. And that's just the start of good things. Don't be scared of it. Cast iron is TOUGH stuff. And honestly, it is still a skillet or baking pan- just heavier than your usual version. Should you get a rusty spot, or a spot that sticks- you now know how to handle it. I usually give mine a once a year rub-down trip to the oven spa, whether they are hollaring for it or not- just to be sure. And if the outside starts building up stuff, it can even make a trip through the fire pit, or in your case- bonfire night fire. It'll need reasoning after that- but it will come out nicely cleaned of all grease buildup. You really have to do something radical to ruin a cast iron pan. And that usually involves a hot pan and cold water. Short of thermal shocking it into cracking- cast iron becomes heirloom cook pans for several generations. So use it in good, long health- and enjoy it.
gandalf October 26, 2020
Here are some more ideas: pan-seared steak or pork chops; some pan-seared fish (here is a link to a video on pan-searing salmon in a cast-iron pan, ); and if you like Southern cooking, fried okra and fried green tomatoes.
gandalf October 26, 2020
To me, cornbread always tastes better when it is cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
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