How to take care of cast iron pans and create a great patina for cooking:
- Scrub the pan with a stiff plastic brush in soapy dish water. Use steel wool if you need to remove rust.
- Dry with a cloth, and then dry more thoroughly by putting on the stove over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes.
- Turn off pan and add a blob of shortening. The residual heat from drying the pan will probably melt the shortening. If not, turn the pan back on for a few moments just to melt it.
- Spread the melted shortening around the inside of the pan making sure to get it all the way up the sides.
- Remove all the excess shortening with a piece of paper towel. You just want a light, even coating.
- Place upside down in a 325 degree oven with a cookie sheet or something on the rack below to catch any drips.
- Bake for 1 hour. Turn the off oven and leave pan in oven until cool.
Voilà! A reconditioned cast iron pan!