Seasoning is the process of adding an oily coating to a pan to prevent rusting – it acts as a permanent non-stick coating during cooking, without the scary emissions of chemical non-stick surfaces. Pans need seasoning to avoid rusting, poisoning food, and the mess caused by stuck-on food
Iron cookware is one of the oldest forms of cooking pots and pans in the world. Today, iron pots and pans are still in use for many reasons, although there are now many other cookware options to choose from. People continue to cook with cast iron because it provides an even cooking surface, can be used over an open fire, in the oven, or on the stove, and after the first use or two, is surprisingly low-maintenance. Use this handy guide to find out how you can easily season and maintain your cast iron cookware so it can last for generations.
How to Season Cast Iron
- First, wash the cast iron pan with soap and hot water. Use a stiff, non-metal brush to wash away any rust or food particles from the pan.
- Dry the pan completely with an old cloth or towel. You will probably get rust stains or smudges onto the towel, so use one you don’t care about.
- Place a sheet of foil on the lowest rack in your oven, and set the temperature to 350 degrees.
- Coat the pan in a thin coating of vegetable oil or some other oil – coat the inside and outside evenly – then place the pan upside down on the top oven rack.
- Cook the pan inside the oven for one hour.
- Turn off the oven, then allow the pan to cool inside the oven without opening it.
- When the pan is cool, the seasoning process is finished.
If the pan does not have a glossy coat, and still appears dry or rusted, repeat the oiling and cooking process until it remains shiny and clean after cooking.
How to Clean and Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware
After you cook in your cast iron pan, clean the pan while it is still warm – just use a hot pad or old towel to protect your hands from the heat of the pan. Wash the pan in hot water, but do not use soap, and scrub off any food particles with a stiff, non-metal brush. (No steel wool!) Once all the food has been cleaned off the pan, dry it with an old towel, and apply a thin coating of oil over the inside and outside of the pan. Wipe away any excess oil with a dry paper towel, and store the pan in an open area without anything else inside or on top of the pan, including the lid. This will help maintain the finish and prevent oxidation.
Re-season the cookware, as necessary, if a rust coating appears, if you accidentally wash the pan with soap or in the dishwasher, and if food starts to stick to the pan while cooking.
Do you cook with cast iron? What tips can you share for keeping your pans in good condition?