Cast iron is a great choice of material for cookware because it heats evenly and retains heat well. However, in order to get the best results from your cast iron cookware, you need to season it properly.
In this blog post, we'll discuss the best way to season a cast iron skillet so your food comes out perfectly every time!
Why Do You Season Cast Iron Cookware?
Cast iron cookware is a great material for cooking because it heats evenly and retains heat well. However, in order to get the best results from your cast iron pan, you need to season it properly.
Seasoning your cast iron ensures that food doesn't stick to the cooking surface, and it also gives the cookware a nice, crisp finish.
Here are a few reasons why you should season a cast iron pan:
1. Food doesn't stick as much to a seasoned cast iron pan.
One of the best benefits of seasoning a cast iron pan is that food doesn't stick to it as much.
Seasoning creates a natural nonstick coating on the surface of the pan. This means that you won't have to spend as much time scrubbing your pans after cooking, and it also makes cleanup a lot easier. It won't be as nonstick as a true nonstick pan, but it'll be about as good as you can get with a pure metal skillet.
2. The seasoning will help protect the metal from rusting.
If you don't season your cast iron pan, the metal will eventually start to rust.
However, if you season your cookware properly, the seasoning will form a protective layer on the metal that will help keep it from rusting over time.
3. A well-seasoned pan has a nice, crisp finish.
One of the best things about seasoning cast iron cookware is that it gives the pan a nice, crisp finish.
When you season your cast iron, the fat will penetrate the pores of the metal and create a hard, glossy surface. This surface will help keep food from sticking to the pan.
It will also add some flavor to your food depending on the oil you use; if you don't want this to happen, use a cooking oil with a neutral flavor to season, like canola oil.
Do You Have to Season a Cast Iron Skillet?
While it is not absolutely necessary to season your cast iron skillets, it is definitely recommended.
If you don't season your skillet, food will stick to the surface and it'll be difficult to clean. Seasoning will also help protect the metal from rusting.
So, now that you know why you should season your cast iron pan, let's discuss how to do it!
HOW TO SEASON CAST IRON: STEP BY STEP
The best way to season your cast iron pans is to use a fat or cooking oil that has a high smoking point. Some good options include grapeseed oil, canola oil, and flaxseed oil.
There are a few different ways that you can season your cast iron cookware - each with their own set of benefits. In this section, we will discuss some of the best methods for seasoning cast iron.
First, of course, you'll need a good cast iron pan. Check out our picks for the best cast iron skillets.
Method 1: Oven Method
The oven method is the most popular method of seasoning a cast iron pan. It is simple, easy, and it results in a very even seasoning.
Step 1. Clean the Skillet
The first step is to clean the skillet thoroughly. You want to make sure that all of the dirt and grease is removed, so use hot water and a small amount of soap or kosher salt.
The general rule of 'never use soap to clean cast iron' does not apply to this step - you need to make sure the skillet is clean before you start seasoning it!
If you have a new cast iron pan, you can just give it a quick rinse with hot water. On the other hand, if you have an old and rusty pan, you can use steel wool to scrub it to a clean slate. This is the only case where you should use steel wool in a cast iron skillet.
Step Two: Dry the Pan
Once you have cleaned the skillet, make sure to dry it completely. This is very important, as any moisture will prevent the seasoning from sticking to the pan.
You can dry it with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, then place it on the stovetop at maximum heat for about 60 seconds.
This will help remove any moisture from the skillet, which is important, because even a small amount of water will prevent the seasoning from sticking. Take the skillet off the heat and leave it until it's completely cool to the touch (10-15 minutes).
Step Three: Apply the Fat
Next, apply a thin layer of fat to the surface of the pan. You can use vegetable oil like grapeseed, canola, or flaxseed oil. Avoid using olive oil or butter, as these have low smoke points and will not work well for seasoning. Use about 2 tablespoons of oil per side.
You can spread the grease using a paper towel - just be sure to cover every inch of the cooking surface. This also includes the underneath of the pan and, yes, even the handle!
After it's fully coated, use clean paper towels to remove the excess oil. You don't want any oil dripping from the pan. Only the thin layer that remains is good enough for the seasoning process.
Step Four: Place in the Oven
Place the pan upside-down on the middle oven rack at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for 60 minutes. This will help seal in the fat and create a nice, even seasoning on the surface of the pan.
We recommend placing a sheet of aluminum foil on the rack below the pan to catch any dripping oil.
Step Five: Let it Cool
Once the 60 minutes are up and the oil has started smoking, allow the skillet to cool completely in the oven before removing it. When you do remove it, be sure to wear oven mitts, as the skillet and handle will be very hot!
If you want to make sure the seasoning really stays, or if you have a very old and worn skillet, you can repeat the oiling and heating process again.
Method 2: Stovetop Method
The stovetop method is another popular way to season cast iron. It's a bit more labor-intensive than the oven method, but much faster, and can be helpful if you are trying to season a large piece of cast iron.
Step One: Clean and Dry the Pan
As with the oven method, make sure to clean and dry the pan completely before proceeding. You normally don't need to use a lot of soap or water to clean it well.
Step Two: Ventilate the Kitchen
Next, turn on the exhaust fan and open a window or door to help ventilate the kitchen. This is important, as you will be creating a lot of smoke while seasoning the cast iron.
Step Three: Apply the Fat
Apply a thin layer of oil (about two tablespoons) to the cooking surface of the pan. For this method, we'll only be seasoning the inside of the pan, not the entire pan. Using your paper towel, spread the oil all around the cooking surface and rim.
Step Four: Place the Pan on the Stovetop
Place the pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. After a minute, turn the heat up a bit more, to around 70%. After two more minutes, heat it to about 90%. Make sure the oil is spread evenly the entire time, but don't touch the hot cooking surface at this point!
Wait until it starts to smoke and the oil turns dark, usually around the three or four minute mark.
Step Five: Let the Pan Cool
Once the oil has been cooked, let the pan cool completely. It can be hot for up to a half after seasoning, so be careful not to touch it. When it's starting to cool off, wipe the oil around the pan every five minutes to keep it evenly spread until it reaches room temperature.
If you did everything correctly, your cast iron should now be nicely seasoned!
If the pan has excess oil, you can rinse it under a bit of warm water and then use another paper towel to remove the excess fat and water.
FAQ About the Cast Iron Seasoning Process
Why is My Cast Iron Sticky After Seasoning It?
If your cast iron is sticky after seasoning it, there can be a few reasons. Firstly, you may have used too much oil, which can cause the seasoning to be sticky.
Secondly, you may not have cooked the fat long enough, or it may not have been cooked at a high enough temperature.
Finally, there may have been residual oils on the pan that weren't removed before seasoning, and these will need to be cleaned off before re-seasoning.
Can I Use Olive Oil to Season My Cast Iron?
Olive oil is not a good choice for cast iron seasoning, as it can go rancid and has a low smoke point. It's best to use a fat that has a high smoke point, such canola or grapeseed oil.
How Often Do I Need to Season My Cast Iron?
You can use either one of the above methods every few months, or whenever you notice that the seasoning is starting to wear off. In general, you should only have to re-season your cast iron 2-3 times per year.
If you have a new cast iron pan, it'll need to be reseasoned less often than an old one.
Can I Use a Non-Stick Cooking Spray to Season My Cast Irgon Skillet?
No, using a non-stick cooking spray will actually prevent the cast iron from seasoning properly. It's best to use a fat that will stick to the pan.
Conclusion: Seasoning Cast Iron Skillets
The cast iron seasoning process is often overlooked, but it's one of the most important steps in getting good cooking results from this type of pan.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your cast iron skillet is properly seasoned and will last for generations.
Thanks for reading!