Dear Lynne, 

My find of the week was two cast iron pans at the thrift shop for almost pennies. They are a little rusty. Can I use them? What do I have to do?  

–Andy from New York City

Dear Andy, 

You scored: Cast iron lasts for generations. Scrub away the rust with steel wool soap pads and hot water. Dry them over a very low stove burner. Let the pans cool off the heat, then “season” them, that is prepare them for cooking.  

To season cast iron: 

Generously rub the pans inside and out with a flavorless oil (canola, corn or safflower). Bake them in a 300-degree-Fahrenheit oven for an hour, then turn off the heat. Leave them in the oven as they cool completely. Wipe out the excess oil and repeat the process two more times.

Lightly scrub the pans out after cooking with just a little coarse salt, paper towels and warm water. Never again use soap or steel wool, nor put them in the dishwasher. Wash them with hot water and scrub with salt if anything sticks. Always dry them thoroughly over low heat. Rub on a little oil before storing. In a short time the pans will be slick and almost nonstick.


Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.