Cast iron skillets or pans are staples in a household that are often passed down from generation to generation. This is thanks to their durability and near indestructibility. Unlike other pans such as stainless steel or steel pans, cast iron doesn’t bend or take on damage as easily as other pans. This being said, to ensure the longevity of your cast iron pans to be able to last you for years and decades it come, you need to properly care for it. Seasoning plays a crucial role in that. Let’s dive into how to season your cast iron pan so it lasts for years and years of wear and tear in the kitchen.
What is Seasoning of Cast Iron?
For first-time cast iron shoppers, you may not know what seasoning is since the term is quite exclusive to carbon steel and cast iron cookware. Seasoning is the process of creating a surface, in this case, your cookware, to make it resistant to corrosion and sticking. In simple terms, the process basically turns your otherwise rough-surfaced pan into a non-stick one while protecting the material. If you recently bought a brand-new skillet from the store, it will come with some preliminary, factory seasoning which you can use in the beginning and then do it yourself after cooking for the first time.
Cast Iron Seasoning Instructions
- Clean your cast iron pan. Wipe any remnants of food from the pan with a paper towel and avoid scrubbing the surface vigorously. We’ve provided more cleaning and care tips below!
- Pour oil on a paper towel and rub the entire pan (including the handle) with the oil. Only use a thin layer of oil evenly distributed across the entire pan. We will go into more detail about what oil you should use to season your pans below.
- Now it’s time to put the oiled pan in the oven. Don’t wash or wipe the oil off or wait too long after oiling it to put it in the oven. What temperature do you need to season your cast iron pans? It’s optimal to preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and put your pan in for about thirty minutes. Don’t worry if you notice the pan slightly smoking during this time since that is a result of the oil. Also, make sure you have oven mitts on when transferring the pan since the handle will also be extremely hot.
- Repeat the oiling and baking process 3 to 4 times for maximum results. Now your pan is ready to hit the hot grill or stovetop and make a delectable, hearty meal.
How Often to Season Cast Iron Pans
The best part about cast iron skillets is they also season after each time you cook, absorbing all of the oils from cooking each meal. The seasoning process as mentioned above should be done a few times per year, not after every time you cook with your pan. Contrary to popular belief, maintaining a cast iron pan is not as laborious or a hassle for people who value the quality of their cookware. Since you can get a lifetime out of a single cast iron pan, why not offer it little extra attention?
Best Oil To Season Cast Iron Skillets
What oil should be used for seasoning iron skillets? You may be wondering. Depending on what you have available on hand, you can virtually use any shortening or oil to season your pan — that’s right! Generally, based on what is available in most households and has a lower smoking point, cooks recommend using canola or vegetable oil. You can also season your cast iron pan with spray-on oils.
Additional Cast Iron Care Tips
Seasoning is only a portion of the care you need to make your cast iron pan live forever as a family heirloom. Do these as well if you don’t already:
- Store your cast iron pan after it is completely dry – don’t put it back in your cabinets while it is wet or all of your seasoning efforts will go down the drain.
- Avoid using hot water and soap. Everything you know about traditional dishwashing goes out of the window when it comes to cast iron and carbon steel pans.
- Season your pan a few times to form a more durable layer before going in with acidic foods such as tomatoes and citruses. It is really best to avoid acidic foods in your cast iron pan.
- Avoid soaking the pan or any cast iron cookware in soap and hot water. Only vigorously scrub the pan if there is residue stuck to it that won’t easily wipe clean. You can use a damp paper towel with coarse salt to rub off the stuck-on food.
- Avoid boiling water in a cast iron pan since this is a direct path to getting a rusty pan in no time.
- Cast iron pans are quite durable, but avoid scraping the surface with abrasive kitchen utensils anyway. Opt for silicone spatulas and other utensils on your cast iron and carbon steel cookware.