Monday, May 25, 2015

How to Season Your Cast Iron

Photo credit: DF McElwee

Seasoning Cast Iron Pans Prevents Rust and Keeps Food From Sticking to the Pans

You can actually save money by buying old, rusted skillets and cookware at yard sales, use steel wool to remove the rust, then season them and they will be like brand new pots and pans.
I've seen my father do this several times. My dad's method for seasoning a cast iron pan is:
  1. Use a food grade oil, such as corn oil or vegetable oil, and wipe on a thin layer over the entire surface of your dry pan. Use a cotton cloth or paper towels to wipe off excess oil. Too much oil will cause excess smoke and may cause uneven seasoning.
  2. Place the pan upside-down on an oven rack. You may want to put a cookie sheet or a layer of aluminum foil on the rack below the pan to catch drips. Bake at 475 to 500 degrees F for half an hour, then turn off the oven and open the door. Allow the pan to come to room temperature before removing it from the oven. This may have to be done three or four times for the seasoning to be adequate.

This not only prevents food sticking in your pan, seasoning cast iron will prevent rusting.

Make it Like New with Electrolysis

Be careful: This can be dangerous!

My son likes to find old cast iron pans such as these and recondition them. He uses an electrolysis method that removes the rust, cleans the pan good to remove the black powder that forms on it, then seasons it to make it like a new pan.
He often attends auctions and yard sales to find these, and then makes them look like new. If you have any old, rusted cast iron pans, you might consider refurbishing them with this method. There are several videos online showing how to do this. However, I can't stress enough how important it is to be careful while doing this. And it should never, ever be done around children!

New Cast Iron

Seasoning new cast iron pans should be done before using the pans for the first time to be sure to remove the factory coating, as well as preventing food from sticking to the pans. Steel wool, hot water, and dish soap should do the trick.

By using new, pre-seasoned cast iron, you can skip the rust removal part. However, you need to pay attention to your cast iron when you use it. When food starts to stick, even just a little, you need to reseason the pan.
The preseasoned Lodge Logic 5-Piece set pictured here includes a 10 1/2" round griddle, 8" skillet, 10 1/4" skillet, 5 Quart dutch oven, and a 10 1/4" iron cover that fits both 10 1/4" skillet and dutch oven. This set is great at home or at camp. Because it retains heat, you can cook foods low without scorching it, or you can use a high temp to sear meat. This preseasoned cast iron cookware is great for the kitchen or campfire, and will last for decades!

Prevent Damage to Your Cast Iron Cookware

Putting a hot cast iron pan into cold, or even cool, water when the pan is hot off the stove is a good way to crack it. Sometimes, instead of cracking, the pan will warp. Make sure you allow the pan to cool on the stovetop before putting it into dish water.

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