For the longest time I avoided buying cast iron cookware because I didn’t know if I was up to the challenge of seasoning cast iron. I mean really, cookware should be easy to maintain, with minimal effort, right?
But once I realized that cast iron was a necessary part of my cookware repertoire, I knew I would have to learn how to maintain this cookware. And I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it really is.
First, what is seasoning?
Seasoning is the process of treating the surface of a saucepan, wok, crepe griddle or other cooking vessel with a stick-resistant coating formed from polymerized fat and oil on the surface.
Why do you need to season a cast iron pot?
Seasoning helps make the surface non-stick as well as protects the iron from rusting.
Seasoning cast iron
Since most new skillets come pre-seasoned from the manufacturer, for this purpose, we are assuming that you are re-seasoning a skillet that is already in use.
- Clean thoroughly with hot water and soap. Use a stiff brush if needed. The idea is to strip the surface of the pan completely. Rinse.
- Thoroughly dry the surface of the pan.
- Coat the inside and outside of the pan with melted saturated fat (lard, Crisco, coconut oil). You want to make sure the fat you use has a high smoke point so avoid olive oil and butter. You could also use any cooking oil though traditionally it was always recommended to use melted saturated fat that is solid at room temperature.
- Wipe off any excess grease.
- Heat oven to 400 F and place the cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven. Place an aluminum foil at the bottom to catch any excess grease.
- Bake the cookware for at least an hour.
- Turn off the oven and let the pan cool to room temperature in the oven. This will take several hours.
Congratulations! You have now learned the art of seasoning cast iron cookware! Now if you follow the instructions for ongoing care, your cookware should remain non-stick and rust free for quite a long time. And if you feel that the pan is starting to stick or has a gray, dull color to it, you just have to repeat steps 1 to 7 again.
- After use, clean immediately with a brush and hot water. Do not use soap (unless re-seasoning).
- Dry thoroughly. Do not let it air dry as it can rust.
- Apply thin layer of oil while the pan is still warm.
- Store uncovered in a cool, dry place.