You get a new pan from the store, or an old, new-to-you pan from a family member, and the first thing you’re likely to do is spend some time re-seasoning. Fresh from the factory, or stale from neglect, obviously is a great time to put in the effort. But what about the pans you already own and are using regularly? How do you know if they need some intensive cast iron care or even a full seasoning restart? I was cooking a batch of buttermilk pancakes this morning and noticed a chip on my twenty inch grill, the same pan that had given me some trouble a couple months back (but in a different spot on the pan!) That blemish…

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My beloved twenty inch cast iron grill pan developed an ugly blemish over the autumn months. A scar. A scab. A patch of failing seasoning crusted, bubbled and flaked off leaving a rough spot the size of a medium pancake on the middle edge of an otherwise awesomely seasoned piece. This isn’t beauty-shaming. A good quarter of the grill was rendered useless for cooking by a spot of flaking seasoning. I worked around it. At first. Then I ignored it. But it only got worse. Three years ago I had cleaned this particular pan down to bare iron. I ran it through the deep cleaning cycle of the oven and burned off all of the seasoning. It was a mess.…

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