About a year ago, I started cooking with cast iron after our pediatrician recommended it to help with my daughters iron levels. My biggest fear was cleanup- every cast iron pan I had seen in stores was sandy looking, and them at would seem to hold food and be a pain to clean.
Enter the world of internet research. I found TONS of people describing how cast iron is as nonstick as anything you buy from the store today, even the antique stuff out there. I was sold, and a couple days later, I had a set of 3 Ozark Trail cast iron skillets.
Now, YES, you get what you pay for…. but I wanted to try it before I spent a ton of money on good stuff.
So, I started cooking scrambled eggs in it, following the instructions on YouTube from a guy who was cooking cheesy scrambled eggs. Guess what…. they stuck. I tried it a number of times, and just got used to it sticking. I kept up with it because it DID help my daughters iron levels- so it’s worth every bit of effort…. but dang, it was a pain to clean.
I eventually got some chain mail to help scrub, and a combination of that and kosher salt did wonders, but it was still a hassle compared to my Teflon pans.
I looked up whether I could machine the pan smoother, and found a video where a guy polished a pan to a glass smooth finish, and claimed that things stuck MORE after polishing… so I just figured I was stuck with the extra effort.
I ended up at an antique shop in Cedar Rapids where they had a whole WALL of antique cast iron. A careful glance revealed something: The good quality antiques were almost glass smooth in the bottom between the machining when they were made and the years of use. NONE of them had the “sand finish” that my cheapies did.
Time to go back to YouTube. Why not, the kids do it, right? And who DOESN’T like a bombardment of political ads?
This time, I found a video where the author had the same problem I did… and he used an angle grinder and sand paper to remove the rough finish, leaving only some of the pitting … and showed how much better it worked after a proper reseasoning
A trip to homeless despot, and I got the grinder wheels…. and by mid afternoon I had the old finish worn down to a nice smooth pan.
Now, I’ll admit, I did a crummy job seasoning, and need to re-season the pan after I strip it down. That being said, I put 2 layers on, and let’s of this on are glass smooth, and the whole thing IS as non stick as my Teflon coated pans that, honestly, cost more than the $15 set of three skillets.
I certainly plan on not only re seasoning the big skillet, but also stripping down and polishing (and properly seasoning) the other pans, too!