Please don't throw away that old cast iron frying pan that was your mother's or grandmother's!

Clean it! As long as it has no cracks or nicks, you can clean, season, and use it. There are several reasons that people rave about their cast iron pans and cast iron skillets. Besides being an ideal heat conductor, cast iron cookware heats evenly and consistently, it is inexpensive and will last a lifetime (actually several lifetimes) with proper care, and it is an old-fashioned way to cook fat free.

When well seasoned, a cast iron pan will be stick resistant and require no additional oil.

new cast iron pans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Using a paper towel, cover the surface of the pan with a nice coating of Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening. I have read where others insist on lard. I prefer the all-vegetable shortening and have never had a problem with the pan being too sticky afterwards.

3. Place the pan in the oven and leave it in for 30 minutes. Carefully, remove the pan from the oven and pour out any liquid into a grease container. Return the pan to the oven and continue heating for another hour and a half.

4. Remove the pan and this time allow the pan to coll. This completes the bonding process. It is recommended that you repeat this process two more times before using the pan for low-fat foods. Foods such as bacon have a high enough fat content that they will not stick at this point. And the grease from the bacon will actually help to season the pan.

to reseason an old or rusted pan

If you notice that your cast iron cookware has developed any rust, or it seems to be sticking, you will need to reseason it.

1. Clean the pan removing any rust or food that has been allowed to build up. FIll the pan with hottest water from the faucet and let sit for 10 minutes. This loosens any grime and makes the pan easier to clean. Use a soap-free scouring pad with regular dish washing liquid to clean the pan.

2. Dry the pan thoroughly with a towel. You would be amazed how quickly rust will form, so dry the pan immediately.

3. Now repeat the seasoning process mentioned above.

care and cleaning of cast iron cookware

1. Clean the pan while it is still warm. The quicker you can safely clean the pan the easier it will be, and the less damage you inflict. If possible, simply take a towel and wipe the interior of the pan - no soap or water needed. The pan will be cleaned and reseasoned at the same time.

2. For tougher messes, use hot water and dish washing soap. Dry immediately with a towel, and apply a thin coat of Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening. Leave for 10 minutes and wipe again with a dry towel.

3. Do not store food in cast iron. The acids in the food can react with the metal and give an off-flavor to the meal.

4. Humidity is a natural enemy of iron. So store your pans in a dry place free from dust, etc.

5. Cast iron cookware will darken over time. Be proud of your iron black cookware!.