Soon after my husband and I were married, his grandmother gave me one of her old cast iron pans.
I hated it.
Seriously. I tried to fry eggs in it and they stuck horribly. So I ended up taking a steel wool pad to it to get it clean each time.
*Sigh* Those of you who know and love your cast iron are just sitting there shaking your heads, I know. Because for those of you who do not know, you never scrub a cast iron pan! And if you do, you need to reseason it!
Once I finally figured this out a couple years ago I resurrected the pan and came to love it. So much so that I’ve been on the lookout for them at garage sales all summer long trying to build up my stash. I ended up having to wait until our rummage sale at church and found a set of 3 unseasoned pans for just a couple dollars.
Now the advice here on the web on how to season a cast iron pan is quite diverse. Some cook on a low heat for a long time, some do an extremely high heat for shorter periods. I can’t say that a low temp is wrong, but I’ve only done the high heat variation so take this as you may, but it has worked out well for me.
How I season:
- Clean your oven. If it’s dirty, don’t skip this step or you will be dealing with mad amounts of smoke in your house. Please don’t ask how I know this……
- If you have a very sensitive smoke alarm near your kitchen, put a chair underneath it to make it easier to turn off.
- Whether you are re seasoning or doing and initial season, wash and scrub the pan. You don’t have to go to crazy, but for a re season you’ll want to scrub off any rusty spots, pits in the seasoning, and any burnt on gunk off. For a new season, the reason you scrub is that now a days pan manufacturers are putting a food grade wax on the pan which makes it hard for the oils to carbonize onto the metal. Just a quick scrub will do it!
- Slather the pan inside and out in some sort of fat. Unsalted butter, coconut oil (what I use since it turns liquid from the heat of my hands and makes application easier), olive oil, or beef lard all work wonderfully. And from what I’ve heard on a few different sites is that veggie oils take longer to carbonize (plus they are rather icky anyways) so use a natural fat. You want the entire pan covered in a thin layer with no pooling.
- Place the pan face down on your top oven rack with an aluminum foil lined baking sheet underneath it on the lowest rack.
- Turn up your oven to 500 degrees.
- Open windows, turn on the vent fan above your oven, and have fans ready to go if need be! These pans will smoke!
- Cook your pan for a few hours or until there is no smoke coming off of it when you check on it.
- Let cool.
- Repeat cooking your pan until you have a nice black carbon layer on it. This took 4 times for my unseasoned pan, and only once for a my re seasoned one. (also, use butter/oil liberally the first few times you use it after seasoning)
Seasoning it this way is supposed to make it last basically forever, as long as you use and wash the pans correctly. I can’t comment on that to much since I’ve only had my new ones a few months, but the pans I recently seasoned have been cooking and frying food wonderfully!
So do you season yours any differently?
Part two – how to care for
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