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 cast iron?
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.Source: Wikipedia
Why do you need to season a cast iron pot?
For this we will first need to understand what cast iron is. Cast iron cookware is made pouring molten metal into a mold and are composed mostly of iron (97-98%) and 2-3% carbon. Now if there’s one thing we know about iron is that, left to the environment, it rusts.
Reason #1 for seasoning cast iron – to prevent it from rusting.
Cast iron is a very porous material, unlike other cooking materials like stainless steel or aluminum. Porous means it has tiny holes on the surface through which a liquid or air can pass. Seasoning is technically a process of ‘baking’ oil into this porous surface and allows the baked oil to seep into the pores and form a smooth layer. Over time, repeated layers create a naturally non-stick surface that allows food to be easily released from the pan.
Reason #2 for seasoning cast iron – to form a natural non-stick layer on the pan
In a nutshell, seasoning cast iron helps make the surface non-stick as well as protects the iron from rusting.
Seasoning cast iron – 7 steps
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.
Best choice for cast iron cookware
Cookware Advisor best choice based on performance and value for money is Lodge cast iron cookware.
Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.