Restore an Old Cast Iron Jambalaya Pot

Have you ever wondered how you could restore that old jambalaya pot your Grandpa gave you? What about an old Dutch oven or cast iron skillet you found at the hunting camp or in Grandma’s kitchen. Have you wondered why you should even restore either of these classic pieces of history? If you have ever wondered how to “bring back” any piece of cast iron cookware from an old rusty state, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s first address the question, why should I restore an old jambalaya pot? The fact is, an old hand-me-down jambalaya pot, or Dutch oven is a priceless heirloom that could be passed from generation to generation. Cast iron products like jambalaya pots and Dutch ovens are made of, well, cast iron, which is virtually indestructible. If properly maintained, they will last for a very long time, making them perfect gifts to pass on to your children or grandchildren. A gift like this will help them appreciate their heritage and a little bit of history.

So what do you do when you find this old gem and it’s in less than desirable condition? Don’t throw it away! As a good friend of mine from Cajun country says, “Let’s bring the black pot back.” What he means is, let’s restore this rusty jambalaya pot. There is a process to bringing it back. The process is as follows:

  1. First take care of the inside by using a piece of fine steel wool to remove any rust. After loosening the surface rust, dust out the jambalaya pot and repeat the process until no more loose rust is present.
  2. After you have removed all of the surface rust possible with the fine steel wool, the pot may still have a red tint to it. There is still rust in the pores. To remove this rust you need to place the jambalaya pot on your cooker or over an open flame and fill it with water. As the water begins to warm, use a coarser piece of steel wool to scour the inside. The warm water helps to loosen the embedded rust and the course steel wool will then remove it. When the water gets so polluted you can not see the bottom of the pot, dump the water and begin again. You may have to repeat this step several times. Be careful not to bring the water to a boil, it just needs to be very warm, as warm as you can stand it.
  3. When you are satisfied that you have removed all of the rust from the inside of the jambalaya pot, it is time to season it. There are several ways to accomplish this but we will concentrate on the easiest way for large pots. Place the jambalaya pot on the cooker or open flame again and begin to heat it up. Once it is hot, take three to four pounds of bacon and place it in the pot. Cook the bacon as long as possible without burning it. While it is cooking, take a paddle or big spoon and move the bacon around so that it covers all internal areas of the pot.
  4. Just before the bacon burns, remove the heat from the pot and remove the bacon. Take clean WHITE paper towels (not designer) and dab all of the excess grease from the jambalaya pot. Take this opportunity to smear the grease again on all internal surfaces. Place the pot back on the cooker and turn the heat down very low. What you want to accomplish here is, maintain a steady even heat on the pot for about an hour. This allows the pores to open up and soak in the grease.
  5. Step three and four needs to be repeated at least two more times with one exception. Instead of using bacon, you can use lard or fat but do not use vegetable oil or shortening. When you see your jambalaya pot begin to take a nice shine on the inside surface you have successfully seasoned the cooking surface.
  6. Now you just need to touch up the exterior. Unlike the inside surface, you don’t have to remove the rust if you don’t want to. Some people think the rust adds character. However, whether you remove the rust or not, you should take some of the grease from the last round and wipe down the outside of the jambalaya pot.

I hope you enjoy your jambalaya pot and can successfully restore it to proper cooking order.