Dear Heloise: Several years ago, I bought my wife a new CAST-IRON FRYING PAN that is now starting to develop small rust spots on the cooking surface. I later learned that cast-iron pans are supposed to be “seasoned” to prevent this from happening. Can this pan be fixed, or should we just buy a new one? And what is the proper care of cast-iron cookware? -- Jim T., via e-mail
Don’t throw out the pan! Rust can develop when the pan is air-dried or even scrubbed with steel wool. The pan should be washed and dried immediately. Many cooks (me included) put the pan back on the still-hot stove burner to dry.
To season or re-season, use hot water, only a drop of soap and a nylon scrubbie or plastic brush to clean (NEVER place the pan in the dishwasher). Rinse and dry well. Then, to season, use melted vegetable shortening. Wipe it all around the pan until the entire surface is covered. Place in a 375 F oven, upside down on a cookie sheet. “Bake” for an hour. Turn the oven off and let the pan cool completely before taking it out. -- Heloise
P.S.: Wipe the pan with a little vegetable oil on a paper towel every time you clean it to prevent rust.
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Dear Readers: Are there certain foods you should NEVER wash before cooking? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw meats and poultry should NOT be washed because of possible cross-contamination from the juices spreading to the sink, counters, dishes and utensils. Cooking meats thoroughly will kill all the bacteria that may be present.
People sometimes soak meat, like country ham, because they think it reduces the salt content. But the USDA advises that this does not remove much salt anyway, so don’t. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I have a hint that I wanted to share. We love making s’mores around the campfire but don’t like the mess that the sticky marshmallows make on our hands.
Instead of taking the marshmallow off the stick with our hands, I make the s’more while the marshmallow is still on the stick. I have someone else hold the stick while I use two pieces of graham cracker to sandwich the marshmallow, and then just pull the stick out. No more sticky marshmallow all over your hands. -- Julie Kane, Shippensburg, Pa.
Dear Heloise: My family loves eating pies, both store-bought and homemade. My question is, Do all pies have to be refrigerated? -- Gayle L., via e-mail
No, not all pies need to go in the refrigerator. Pies that contain eggs (for example: pumpkin, cream or custard pies) should be refrigerated. Fruit pies, however, don’t have to be refrigerated (unless your kitchen is on the warm side) and can be kept at room temperature for about two days, if they last that long. Most people prefer to keep all types of pies in the refrigerator. -- Heloise