Welcome to The Pauley Principle!

The Pauli Principle, named for Wolfgang Pauli, deals with atoms and electron-sharing that results in new, stronger bonds. Think 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen, a shared delectable (!) electron and VOILA! Water!

Similarly, when you prepare whole food to share with family and friends, especially foods you've grown, something amazing happens. Meals become tastier and healthier. Your soul, not just your stomach, becomes fulfilled. You live life more abundantly as a result. During a shared meal, the bonds that people create grow stronger and become something new: GREATER than the sum of the parts! I give you The Pauley Principle.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Restoring a Rusty Cast Iron Dutch Oven

wall hangers

more wall hangers

cast iron skillets that I use daily
I grew up with an appreciation for cast iron cooking, and began collecting new and vintage cast iron and  steel pieces at an early age. The secret to their longevity is in the seasoning. A cast iron piece that is well-seasoned will hold up to most cooking techniques without rusting. MOST.

Occasionally I have bloopers, but I can't show a picture of what I did to my 12 quart cast iron Dutch oven because I was so beside myself I didn't think to take one. I had prepared peach cobbler over coals, just like I had done many times before, but this time my cobbler had boiled over! We had eaten around a campfire after dark and I decided to wait until morning to clean it. To my dismay, the lid was stuck on. I meant to ask Chris to try to pry it off, but I forgot about it and then left it out in the rain. You should never ever EVER do that, and I knew better. Life gets busy and I totally forgot. My beautiful Dutch oven rusted. Badly. Normally, all you have to do if a piece of cast iron cookware has some rust is to gently rub out the rust and oil it, but NO! Mine was crusty rust!


Chris came to my rescue. Dressed in heavy gear, he took the first step in restoring my treasured piece. On the day he was rescuing the hay rake that he acquired, he took my dreadful-looking Dutch oven and also sand-blasted it. That is an extreme rescue, but by the time I got the lid off, it was so bad inside and out that it had been rendered useless. Cast iron is a good investment and should last lifetimes, so we both knew this piece needed intervention if it would ever become an heirloom.
my cast iron Dutch oven after sand-blasting

Then came my part in the restoration. It had to be seasoned. Otherwise, it would become a rusty mess and would be unsuitable for cooking. I used regular vegetable oil and a cotton cloth and simply rubbed oil all over the inside and outside of the Dutch oven and its lid. Then I placed the pieces in my gas oven at 200 degrees F. for 2 hours. To be sure it was covered completely with oil but with no oil pooling that would gel, I took it out and reapplied a thin coating of the cooking oil to the entire surface. Then, back to the oven for an additional 5 hours.






ALMOST fully restored



This is how it looked after seasoning, a darker patina, ready for cooking again. After the next few uses, I will oil it each time and place the Dutch oven back in 200 degrees F. for 2 hours to complete the seasoning process. Then, eventually, it will have the even black color of my other vintage pieces.

10 comments:

  1. Nice! I love your collection. We once ruined one trying to make popcorn in it over a fire.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I responded to you below earlier then realized you might not see it.

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  2. Oh, that's sad. It can happen so easily. I hope you held onto it. They can be fixed. You wouldn't believe what this one looked like.

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  3. Ronda you haven't been camping in so long that you don't know the new technique.....we now use bee's wax.....much better than oil and healthier also.....just don't put it on the outside and then put it on an open fire (might I say flame) Kenny I need your help! You and Chris really need to come and hang with your old friends, just 2 time a year.....spring and fall.

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    1. Christa!!! I didn't know you read my blog! I didn't have enough beeswax unless I melted my candles. Didn't want to do that. But you're right. My rendezvous days are too far behind me. Chris said he didn't think you and Kenny still did that. I'll tell him differently. I would love to get back to it. And yes, this is the same Dutch oven I used so often at camp!!!

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  4. I got a very nice little oval cast iron skillet the other day at the flea market for $4.

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    1. What a find!!! What a treasure! Some of my best are ones that I found the same way. They should last forever.

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  5. That is all my wife uses to cook with as well. Food just doesn't taste the same if you use anything else!

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    1. You're absolutely right! Pair the cast iron with a flame for cooking and you've really got something special. You can't get that richness with other cooking methods.

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  6. I would like to invite you to join me at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week! http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/11/clever-chicks-blog-hop-10.html

    I hope you can make it!
    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

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