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Archive for April, 2013

5 Steps to Restoring a Rusty Dutch Oven

April 19th, 2013 by ironcooker

5 Steps to Restore Cast Iron - Featured Image

Okay, so not everyone uses their cast iron dutch oven for every meal.  This is a reality that I’ve come to accept—begrudgingly.  And maybe you’ve already got a great dutch oven in your kitchen that you barely use.

So, let’s say you’re reading one of the recipes, you think, ‘that sounds delicious!  I have to try it!’ You go back to dig through your cookware and you find it—and it’s got a bit of a patina.  Now this isn’t an episode of American Pickers, this is your kitchen, and you accept that you’ve go to throw it out.

But don’t!  That little bit of rust might be the result of poor cleaning, neglect, or letting the pot sit—but it’s certainly not ruined.  In only six easy steps, you can return your dutch oven to its cooking prime and have some hot Cowboy Beans or Barbecue Brisket ready in no time.

Step 1: Wash and dry

Step 1 - Wash and Dry Dutch OvenBefore you do anything else, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Next, you’ll need to get some hot soapy water for this action.  And I know what you’re thinking:

 Dude, you’re never, ever supposed to get soap on your cast iron!

That’s true, but you’re also never, ever supposed to let it rust.  In this case, two wrongs do make a right, but let’s not make this a habit, okay?  Now grab your favorite scrubbing sponge and dive in.  The goal is to clear off any rust, burned on food, loose bits of seasoning, and just general unpleasantness before you move on.

Once you’ve gotten all of the nastiness off of it, you’ll need to get it dry.  Moisture was part of the problem before, so we won’t leave anything to chance.  I hope the oven’s hot by now, because your freshly scrubbed dutch oven is going in for about 10 minutes.  That’ll evaporate all of the water that might be hiding in the nooks and crannies.  Don’t worry about the pot—cast iron loves the heat.

Step 2: Seasoning Scrub

Step 2 - Seasoning Scrub Dutch OvenTake the pot out of the oven (careful!) and preheat it to 450 degrees.

Now remember, your cast iron cookware isn’t just a tool, it’s an ingredient!  So we’re going to be doing a little bit of seasoning.  Pour one quarter-cup of any kind of cooking oil you want into the pan.  You can use canola oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, or whatever else you’ve got on hand.  Add to that one cup of coarse kosher salt, right into the middle of the pot.

Let the pot cool until you can touch it comfortably then, with a clean cotton rag, get right into that abrasive emulsion and scrub the whole thing.  Inside, outside, and whatever else you can touch with the rag.  If you need more oil or salt, go ahead and throw it in.

Step 3: Acid Scrub

Step 3 - Acid Scrub Dutch OvenRinse off the pot to get as much of the oil and salt off as you can.  Then, in a separate container, mix up a diluted acid solution using one cup of white wine vinegar to one quart of water.  Grab another rag and use the vinegar solution to scrub off anything else that will come off.  This is going to take care of any remainder rust, loose seasoning, or other types of persistent filth.

What’s been uncovered is just plain old bare metal, and that’s what we’re after.  That’s where you can apply new seasoning.

Once that’s finished, give the pot another rinse and put in back in that 450 degree oven for another 10 minutes.

Step 4: Seasoned Coating

Step 4 - Seasoned Coating Dutch OvenRemove the pot from your oven and let it cool.  While it’s cooling, reset your oven to 300 degrees.  The seasoning is build up from fats that you’ve used to cook many meals, and this process is going to try to mimic that.  Use a manageable shortening (like Crisco) to coat the entire pot in a thin layer.  You’ll want to get the inside, outside, lid, handles—don’t skip on anything.

Open the windows and put the pot back in the oven facing upside down.  Leave it in there for an hour.  You might consider putting in a cookie tray with some parchment paper in it just underneath to catch any drippings.  And you should probably prepare yourself mentally for the realization that your house will smell like a smelting plant.

Take the pot out of the oven and let it cool, wiping away any excess grease that might be condensed anywhere.  Reapply your shortening and put it back in the oven for another hour.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Step 5 - Finished Clean Dutch OvenRemove your pot from the oven.  You’ve successfully restored a seasoning base!  Remember, this is a living, breathing piece of cookware.  The more you use it, the longer the seasoning will last and the better it will perform.  Or, if you want to skip all of these steps, you could take the opportunity to buy a new dutch oven.

Have you brought your cast-iron cookware back to life?  Do you have any tips, tricks, or advice for other readers who are undertaking this project?  Let us know in the comments below! 

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Posted in Iron Cooker Updates | 1 Comment »

4 Reasons Why Cast Iron is a Must Have In Your Kitchen

April 9th, 2013 by ironcooker

4 Reasons Why Cast Iron is a Must Have in Your Kitchen
If you’re a frequent reader, you know that we’re very enthusiastic about cast iron.  But for the uninitiated, it’s easy to wonder what place cast iron cookware has in a world of microwaves and Teflon.  Why should you want to shop for a cast iron skillet when there are so many other options out there?

For our readers who are already cast iron users, we’re aiming to give you some new tidbit that you can be excited about.  And for those who aren’t—here are the big 4 reasons why we love cast iron cookware!

1. Super Skillet and Pan Perfection!

Cast Iron Pans Over Flame CookingCast iron skillets are a trustworthy, durable piece of equipment whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or over a campfire.  Unlike other treated pans, a cast iron skillet will endure exposure to open flame and it will distribute the uneven heat to reduce hot spots.  Put them on the stove top, in the oven, and even atop a campfire.  This is one of the only types of pans that lets you sear a delicious cut of meat or fresh vegetables on the range and then finish by evenly cooking in the oven.

If you’re wondering about some specific applications, a cast iron skillet is a uniquely suited vessel for cooking your favorite deep-dish pizzas.  That’s because the evenly distributed heating and tolerance for very high temperatures will get pizza dough deliciously browned while all of the great fillings and toppings are cooked through.

Iron Cooker Cast Iron Pan on Sale

2. Get Your Money’s Worth

Cast iron pans are remarkably affordable, and you can usually find one below $25.  Other pans may cost that much on up to hundreds of dollars for a single piece!  And how often will you need to replace them?

A cast iron pan can last for generations.  Where nonstick coating wears off of other pans and copper may corrode and turn strange colors, cast iron skillets season over time and only darkens as the slick coating builds up. Truly, cast iron is one of the most versatile cooking materials around, and you’ll be able to use it for anything from breakfast to dessert!

3. Health Benefits

Cast Iron Pan Health BenefitsWell-seasoned cast iron is super slick, which means you won’t need to use as much oil as you would in other pans just to keep food from sticking.  Even a non-stick pan will call for using oils, and as the coating wears off, you’ll actually be using more cooking oil in your food over time.  The opposite is true with cast iron—the more you use it, the more the coating accumulates.

And what happens to that non-stick coating when it sloughs off?  Where’s it going?  It seeps into the food that you’re preparing.  Not only does case iron not contain those dangerous substances, but it actually fortifies your foods with additional iron.  That’s great for your health, and especially for ladies.

Cast Iron Pan Easy Clean Up

4. Easy Clean Up

I’ll put it flatly: cast iron doesn’t even need to be washed.  To clean a skillet, just pour in some salt and use it as an abrasive scrub to remove any stray food particles.  After that, you can just wipe it with a cloth.

You can put it under some water if you’d like, but be careful to keep your pan very dry in storage to keep it from rusting.  Any soap is a big mistake—it’ll ruin that great seasoning you’ve been building up for so long.

Did you learn anything about our favorite cookware in this post?  Did I miss any cool facts?  If you’ve got something more to add or you found out something new in this post, tell us about it in the comments below!

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Posted in Iron Cooker Updates | 6 Comments »

5 Steps to Restoring a Rusty Dutch Oven

Friday April 19th, 2013 in Iron Cooker Updates | 1 Comment »

4 Reasons Why Cast Iron is a Must Have In Your Kitchen

Tuesday April 9th, 2013 in Iron Cooker Updates | 6 Comments »

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