Aside from being objects that (to me) represent endurance, quality, and comfort, cast iron cookware comes with the kind of ritualistic care I tend to latch onto. ML and I cobbled our collection together mostly from antique and thrift stores, two were found on the street in Brooklyn in pretty poor condition.
Over the years I've tried a few methods for completly rehabbing cast iron surfaces, but a good friend turned me on to a technique that I now believe is the only way to go. You use your oven's self-cleaning setting to get the pans down to the raw metal and apply successive ultra-thin coats of flax-seed oil*, heating the pans and allowing them to cool between coats.
I wish I had true before photo, but here they are after they've been stripped of thier old coating and before I removed the rust:
And here are the same pans about halfway through the resurfacing process:
The results were super impressive, I could see tooling marks on the surface I had no idea were there:
After this initial reseasoning, a bit of regular maintenance has kept these guys in good working order for the past four years. I've only recently considered repeating the process and starting over (there are a few sticky spots) but truthfully they could probably go a few more years without it.
I recently found this and have been following the routine at the bottom.
Anyone else have cast-iron tips to send my way?
*Flax-seed oil is the food-grade version of linseed oil, which I remember from my oil painting days gives paintings a durable finish. The same process of polymerization is happening on the pans and what gives it it's natural non-stick surface. Here's an AWESOME blog post that dives pretty deep into the underlying science, and why you shouldn't use lard or bacon grease, as the common wisdom suggests.