Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hearth and Home: Seasoning Cast Iron With Potato Peels

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So, here's something I didn't know but my mom taught me (whose grandmother taught her).  Instead of seasoning a cast iron skillet with different types of grease my mom SWEARS by this method instead.

Take potato peels (preferably from potatoes that you are eating for dinner or what not :) and place in pan (mom recommends about 1/2 the way full with potato peels).  Add water to cover said potato peels.  Boil like heck for an hour and then dump out the potatoes (and water obviously) and coat the pan with a good layer of your oil of choice.  Voila perfectly seasoned cast iron (never done this myself, but it supposedly removes the rust coating the pan comes with and other scmutz and makes the pan take the seasoning perfectly).

You can also go HERE where shares how to season a skillet by frying potato peels in oil...this one seems a BIT more nasty to me as the idea of boiling potato skins in oil until the oil is smoking up your house is a bit much for me.  Mom's method seems a lot less ucky :).

A couple more cast iron tips:

1.  Never use soap on a cast iron skillet!  It will wreck your seasoning on the pan.  Cast iron, when seasoned correctly is non-stick and should remain that way. 

2.  Instead of using soap either add some fat to the pan with some kosher salt and use as a scouring mechanism to get the pan clean or scrub in hot water with a hard bristled brush, dump salt (if you use that method), dry well and then apply oil to the pan to reseason it and protect it from rust.

MY method for cleaning cast iron is the same one my great-grandmother taught my grandma who taught my mom.  I wash my cast iron pans in hot water with a stiff bristled brush (I use the ones that normally you can add dish soap to...they sell the 2 packs of them at Target in the dollar section from time to time...I always use one to clean my cast iron skillets and then use the other as a vegetable brush :) and then instead of drying them with a towel (that can leave water on the pan you might have missed) I put my cast iron on a back burner on my stove and heat it on high heat until the water has completely evaporated (it does not take long) and then while the pan is still warm I apply a good coating of oil (right now I use olive oil since it's safe for my son, but I used to use Crisco back in the day).  Result?  Pans that are clean, sanitized (thus the heating it back up to the point it'll cook off the water) and re-seasoned for use another day.  Love this method myself :).

3.  Try not to stack like pans on top of one another for very long.  You can create a problem by making a seal between the two pans which can build up condensation (ESPECIALLY in humid climates) and the next thing you know you'll have rust on your pans.  Not a fun situation as then you'll end up scrubbing said pans with steel wool to remove the rust and have to re-season your pans all over again.


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