The first order is to get them clean, free of rust spots and ready for curing, or seasoning. Scour the rust spots off with steel wool, wash with mild soap and very hot water, and dry immediately while still warm. The drying part is very important for the prevention of rust, if you are not going to season your pan right away. Do not worry about the color of your pan, it could be anywhere from brown to shiny black, depending on age and how much use it has had.
If you purchased your cast iron cookware new, make sure you scour it clean to remove the protective coating the manufacturer uses to preserve it in storage.
With the cleaning done, your cast iron cookware is ready for curing. Curing or seasoning is the process that renders your pan nonstick. The neutral grease that you use in the process, fills the pores of the cast iron and makes it smooth and nonstick.
Here are a few things you should not do with your cast iron cookware:
- Never store food in cast iron
- Never wash cast iron in a dishwasher
- Never store cast iron utensils wet
- Never go from very hot to very cold, and vice versa; cracking may occur
- Never store with excess grease in pan, it will turn rancid
- Never store with lids on, cushion lid with paper towel to allow air flow
- Never boil water in your cast iron cookware - it will 'wash' off your seasoning, and it will require a re-seasoning
Step back in time, and enjoy a different world of cooking, without the worry of scratching the nonstick manufactured plastic-like coating on modern aluminum fry pans.