May 292015

No Fail Friday: Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware

Here are some simple steps to putting a cast iron pan into service or keeping yours in cooking-worthy condition. Even a newly purchased, “pre-seasoned” pan will benefit from being seasoned at home. And if you’re lucky enough to find decent cast iron cookware at tag or estate sales (’tis the season) don’t shy away from purchasing any that’s a little rusty or pitted. They’re usually salvageable—here’s how:

How to Season A Cast Iron Pan

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Using warm soapy water wash the skillet with a sponge. If your skillet is really in bad shape with rust and crud you’ll have to have at it with steel wool or a stiff brush to remove as much surface rust and ick as you can. (This is the last time you’ll want to use soap, or an abrasive brush on your pan until you the next time you season it.)
  3. Once washed, rinse and dry the pan thoroughly.
  4. With a paper towel or clean cloth apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the entire skillet, inside and out.
  5. Pan manufacturers such as Lodge claim any oil or lard will do, but there’s a scientific argument here for why pricier, harder to get Flaxseed oil might be best.
  6. Place the skillet upside down on the center rack of the oven. A layer of aluminum foil on a baking sheet placed on the rack below can catch any spills, but there shouldn’t be any.
  7. Bake for one hour.
  8. Turn off heat and let the skillet cool completely before removing it from oven. Could be as long as another hour, sometimes more.

Your wonderful rejuvenated pan now has a non-stick coating that you will love to use. Caring for it after use is as simple as wiping it out. Avoid soap as much as possible. If you do need to remove burned-on food, try a mild abrasive such as coarse salt and a non-metallic brush. Always clean your skillet right after use and ever let cast iron soak in water. A light coat of vegetable oil after cleanup will also discourage rust and help prime the metal the next time you cook with it.

Remember when storing your cast iron that the wrong environment can invite and encourage rust. Store it in places that are moisture-free.

There seem to be as many ways to season and care for cast iron as there are cooks who love to cook with it. If you have a preferred method or useful tip please feel free to share it in the comments below.

Christine

Very excitable and prone to fits of glee, Christine cooks on a vintage 1950 General Electric double-oven stove, does not have a dishwasher unless you count the husband, and is guilty of posting cat cuteness on the interwebs. She photographs and blogs about food and other joyful topics from her home in Vermont.

Co-Author of Garden Candy Basics

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