I think a lot of people are intimidated by cast iron, and honestly I was one of those people a couple of years ago. I’m here to tell you with a little bit of love and care it’s really not so intimidating, I promise. Today I’m going to walk you through a couple of simple steps to season or re-season a cast iron pan and a few ways I maintain a nice seasoning.
STEP ONE – To season your pan you’re going to begin by washing is thoroughly with soap and water. If you’re seasoning a used pan and there is stuck on crud you can use salt and a soft/stiff bristled brush. This will help lift whatever is stuck on. Many people claim you can’t use soap on cast iron after it’s seasoned, but IMO, mild chemical free soaps like Dr Bronners or Sal Suds shouldn’t hurt your seasoning, or at least they haven’t hurt mine. No, I definitely don’t wash with soap every time, but if it needs it I will. Most often a good rinse with water does the trick. Helpful tip…cast iron is not the kind of pan you want to let air dry. If you air dry your pan you run the risk of rust. I always dry as soon as I’ve rinsed it or wiped it out.
STEP TWO -Time to oil up your pan. I have done some research about seasoning pans and while most people use vegetable oil or lard…I personally use coconut oil to season my pans. Coconut oil has a medium to high smoke point and it seems to works well to season cast iron with. You can use vegetable oil or lard, I’ve just opted to stick with coconut oil. You’ll want to coat your whole pan with a thin layer of oil with your hands. Make sure to cover the inside and outside of it. You don’t want so much oil that it dripping out of your pan, just a thin coating all over. I cover the sides, handle, top rim etc. Once I’ve coated it I go in with a clean cloth and wipe off any excess.
STEP THREE – Place your pan upside down in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes. Carefully pull out your pan and give it another wipe down with your cloth. This will remove any excess oil in your pan.
STEP FOUR – Place your pan back in your oven this time at 400 degrees for at least one hour. Once your timer turns off allow your pan to cool completely in the oven. *Note you’re going to need to allow your oil to reach it’s smoke point. You want it to smoke…it’s going to stink, that’s normal, make sure you turn your exhaust fan on, and I like to open my kitchen windows too. Because no one wants to breath that in, am I right? Also, I’ve successfully seasoned cast iron in my grill outside…Same steps, the benefit is that you don’t have to breath in the smoke.
STEP FIVE – Depending on the condition of your pan you may need to repeat this process several times. Basically you want a nice glossy surface when your pan in well seasoned. I recommend cooking some high fat foods in your pan once you’ve reached a nice season. Fried chicken, bacon something thats going to add to your seasoning base!
EXTRA HELPFUL TIPS
I like to oil my pan after each use. Not everyone does this… I do this so that I know I am maintaining that shiny non stick surface. After cooking I rinse and dry my pan right away. Then I put on another thin layer of my oil and I’m good to go for my next meal. You can set it on the burner and let it warm up, but if I’m lazy I sometimes skip this.
Cast iron and acidic foods don’t mix well. The acid in the foods will actually eat away at your seasoning so it’s best to avoid cooking things like tomato sauce and other highly acidic foods in your pan.
Someone recently asked how to avoid rust….water and iron don’t mix so you do not want your cast iron sitting with water on it. Rinse and dry right away and never let it sit with water in it or on it.
Always preheat your cast iron. I always preheat then add my butter/oil in my pan before I place any food in it. Cooking with butter/oil each time you cook in a simple way to maintain your pan every time you cook. This is helping to keep that nice non stick surface. I prefer ghee, organic butter, bacon dripping, and coconut oil for cooking.
Do you have any cast iron questions, I would love to try to help any way I can. I’m certainly no expert, but I have learned a thing or two over the last couple of years! Go ahead and leave your comments and questions below!
Blessings and happy cooking,