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.
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:
- Clean and dry the cookware thoroughly
- Apply a thin coat of an appropriate oil
- Cook the cast iron in the oven
- 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:
- Heat the oven to around 350 degrees. For flax seed oil, use a higher temp like 450.
- Place the pan or skillet upside down on the top shelf of the oven.
- Place a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom shelf to catch any drippings.
- 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!