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How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

It is not hard to season cast iron cookware. Cast iron cookware needs to be seasoned to properly maintain its nearly nonstick cooking surface. Today, cast iron cookware comes in 2 varieties, standard black cast iron and enameled cast iron. The enameled cast iron does not need to be seasoned. In this article, I’ll discuss the best way to season cast iron cookware.

Lodge Signature Cast Iron Skillet

Why You Need to Season Cast Iron Cookware

When properly maintained, cast iron cookware can provide a nearly nonstick surface. As it is used, the oils fill in the pores of the pan or skillet, and helps release food from the cookware. If food sticks to your cast iron cookware, it is not seasoned enough or properly.

To season cast iron cookware:

  1. Clean and dry the cookware thoroughly
  2. Apply a thin coat of an appropriate oil
  3. Cook the cast iron in the oven
  4. Cool and store properly

Clean the Cast Iron Cookware

The first step of the seasoning process is to make sure the pan or skillet is properly cleaned. Rinse the pan out with warm, non-soapy, water. Using a stiff bristled brush, scraping any deposits off of the pan. Only if there are some seriously stuck on deposits is it OK to use soapy water. The soap will take away whatever seasoning has built up.

Once the pan or skillet is cleaned, dry it thoroughly with paper towels or a clean dry rag.

Apply the Seasoning Oil

Once the pan or skillet is dry, apply your seasoning oil. I use a virgin coconut oil. Use a neutral oil like food grade coconut oil, vegetable oil, Crisco, or lard. I’m hearing a flax seed oil works wonders also! I use wax paper to apply the seasoning. Others use a clean rag or even foil. I’ve found that paper towels are not the best to use because some paper remnants can stick to the cookware.

It is very important NOT to apply too much oil. If it builds up after the heating process, and is stored, the oil can become rancid. That’s not good.

Bake the oil into the Cast Iron

After the oil is applied:

  1. Heat the oven to around 350 degrees. For flax seed oil, use a higher temp like 450.
  2. Place the pan or skillet upside down on the top shelf of the oven.
  3. Place a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom shelf to catch any drippings.
  4. Cook for 30 – 60 minutes.

After the cast iron has cooked for 30 to 60 minutes, place it on the stove top or a cooling rack to let it cool.

Properly Storing Cast Iron Cookware

It is best to use cast iron cookware nearly every day. Using it and cleaning it properly on a regular basis builds up the best seasoning. If it must be stored, place a layer of paper towels or a rag on the bottom of the shelf. Store the cookware upside down, making sure there is air circulation around the cookware. Do not store lids on the pan locking in air. Seasoned cast iron needs to have ample air circulation. Locked in air will cause the baked in oil to become rancid. That’s not good.

When you are ready to use the cast iron cookware after it has been stored, rinse it with warm, non soapy water, and dry with a clean rag or paper towel. The use of soap will remove the seasoning. Very bad.

Properly seasoned cast iron cookware is a joy to use. The heating properties of cast iron and the nonstick surface will do a great job on whatever you cook, making you look like a professional chef!

Happy cooking!

 

The Growing Cast Iron Cookware Set

A Cast Iron Cookware set is not a dream anymore! Cast iron cookware is favored by cooks who like the healthy and naturally nonstick surface of cast iron. Cooks will be pleased to know that manufacturers are making additional cast iron cookware pieces that make up a full cookware set. What was once just a frying pan and Dutch oven, is now growing to include casserole dishes, sauce pans, saute pans, and other essential pieces of cookware. Enameled cast iron cookware is leading the trend with its luxurious colors and added food storage capabilities.

Le Creuset Cast Iron Cookware Set

The Popularity of Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron cookware has been popular for a very long time because of its heat distribution and retention capabilities. Still a camp favorite for that overnight camping trip, new variations of cast iron cookware introduce colors and flexibility with enameled surfaces. Manufacturers are creating essential cookware pieces made of enameled cast iron with colors that fit any kitchen decor. Able to go from stove top or oven right to the kitchen table in fashionable style makes cast iron as popular as ever. Some enameled surfaces, being non reactive with food, even allow for marinating food and food storage after it is cooked.

The Growing Cast Iron Cookware Set

A standard cast iron cookware set will include:

  • A skillet / frying pan / omelet pan
  • A Dutch oven / French oven / large casserole dish w/ lid
  • The growing cookware set can include:
  • A sauce / saucier pan w/ lid
  • A saute pan w/ lid
  • A buffet casserole dish w/ lid
  • A panini pan w/ press
  • New cookware and styles being introduced all the time!

Seasoning and Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware

 Lodge Cast Iron Skillet Traditional cast iron needs to be seasoned. Seasoning cast iron cookware is a process of adding a quality oil to the inside of the cookware and baking it for an hour at 350 degrees. The seasoning process fills in the porous surface providing a naturally non stick surface. Enameled cast iron cookware does not need to be seasoned.

Always be sure to read the care and use instructions of your cast iron cookware. Most will recommend hand washing, even the enameled items that can be placed in an automatic dishwasher. Traditional pieces definitely need to be hand washed and dried immediately.

Cast iron cookware, always a kitchen favorite, is growing even more popular with luxuriously colored enamel surfaces and essential cookware pieces. Popular brands like Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, and Calphalon have attractive and functional cast iron cookware pieces. As new pieces become available, they are being added to cookware sets, growing what was once a stingy 3 piece cookware set into full fledge 7 to 9 piece sets.

Happy Cooking!

 

Luxurious Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

Colorful and beautiful, enameled cast iron cookware is healthy cookware for every kitchen. With the excellent heat distribution and retention benefits of cast iron, enameled cast iron cookware is functional and attractive.

Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

Staub Coq au VinWhether Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, or any other enameled cast iron cookware manufacturer, the enameled colors add a luxurious look to the standard black cast iron. With various shades or red, green, blue, and brown, the colors can fit just about any decor. Cast iron cookware traditionally is one of the least expensive cookware materials. While an enameled finish will add to the cost, there are still inexpensive options. The cost will often be associated with the quality and number of enameled layers. The higher quality enamel will be chip resistant, stain resistant, and have as many as four (4) layers of colorful enamel. While the term enamel is often associated with paint, cookware enamel is a glass product, thus healthy and easy to clean.

Enameled Cast Iron Skillet

Probably one of the most famous pieces of cast iron cookware is the skillet. While today they do make casserole dishes, Dutch ovens, and even sauce pans in enameled cast iron, the skillet/omelet pan/frying pan is most common. Placing your cast iron skillet on the stove top with low to medium heat will result in fantastic fried eggs, bacon, potatoes, or anything else fit for a skillet. Cast iron griddle pans are becoming immensely popular. Ridges on the bottom make an ordinary skillet not only healthy but also gives that restaurant quality presentation. Use a grill pan for steaks or any other food where grill marks would add to the taste and/or visual appeal.

Enameled Outside and/or Inside

On the outside of the cookware, the enameled finish makes it easy to clean as well as visually appealing. On the inside, it adds a level of nonstick performance and opportunity to use the same cookware for stove and table top. It is non reactive with foods. And it does not need to be seasoned as traditional cast iron cookware.

Use and Cleaning Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

Like most high quality cookware, it is important to read the care and use instructions. You will find it is usually recommended:

• Do not use metallic utensils

• Use low to medium heat

• Do not use in the oven over 475 degrees

• Use a cloth or mitt to handle the cookware

• The surface can chip or scratch if banged or dropped

• Use plastic or nylon scouring pads. Not metal

• While some are automatic dishwasher safe, hand washing is still highlyrecommended

• Dry the cookware before storing

Beautiful, functional, and healthy, enameled cast iron cookware adds a level of sophistication to any kitchen. The busy cook, chef, or healthy cook will enjoy the colors and usefulness of enameled cookware. For more information about using cast iron cookware, be sure to read our article on The Growing Cast Iron Cookware Set.

 Happy Cooking!