Last spring I went on a shopping hiatus. For one month I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t a necessity (including secondhand items). While it was a good exercise in realizing that I was wasting a lot of time buying things I don’t need, I did realize that I missed the act of shopping. While I still do not buy new clothing or accessories for the most part, I have become a little bit of a thrift store/estate sale/antique shop junkie. I love the treasure hunt and when you find something unique it is so much fun!
One thing that I’m always on the lookout for is vintage cast iron. This past Christmas I was on a search to find Derek the perfect size cast iron pan for deep dish pizza. As luck would have it, I found a 11 3/4 inch pan at a local estate sale. It needed a little rehabbing but from what I could tell it was just surface rust. Luckily it is pretty easy to take a rusty cast iron pan and return it to its glory!
As you can see on these before pics, this pan was just a little rusty and wasn’t in too bad of shape after I dusted off the cobwebs. There were no cracks or pitting which was a good sign.
Here are the steps I took:
- Scrub the pan all over really well with steel wool (wear gloves!). The goal is too scrub off the old seasoning. You want the inside to feel smooth to the touch.
- Next soak in a vinegar bath for 8 hours to remove rust. I used a large roasting pan filled with enough vinegar to cover the entire pan.
- Scrub again with steel wool to remove any lingering rust spots. By this step the rust should be gone.
- Wash with hot soapy water.
- Season. Rub entire pan with vegetable oil. In a 350 degree oven, place pan upside down on oven rack with a sheet pan on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake for one hour.
Here’s the after shot. It cleaned up pretty well!
The great thing about cast iron is the more you use it the better it gets. To clean cast iron, I have read many times not to use soap but I do use a little soap and a scrub brush to clean ours when it is extra dirty and it seems to be fine. I also just heard about this product (affiliate link) to help clean cast iron but have not tried it yet. I think the most important thing is to season your pans regularly and always make sure they are completely dry after washing to prevent any rust buildup.
Do you enjoy shopping for any specific vintage items? Have you ever tried cooking with cast iron?