So you want to learn how to how to season cast iron cookware?
If you don’t use a non-stick frying pan, you’re in good company. There’s something quite lovely about using an cast iron skillet or frying pan.
However, if you want your pan to last and your eggs to turn out perfectly, you’ve got to how to season cast iron cookware properly.
What is Seasoning?
Well, as you use your iron skillet on a regular basis, you’ll notice a build up of a sort of black patina on the surface.
This surface acts as “non-stick” layer on the base of the pan and makes certain that your eggs won’t stick and that your steaks cook right on the outside.
How Can You Season An Iron Skillet?
You’ve got two options when it comes to seasoning an iron skillet: natural seasoning or oven-based seasoning. Let’s take a look at both!
The Best Way To Season An Iron Skillet Is Naturally
Natural seasoning is the easiest way to go. All you need to is cook with your pan on a regular basis and then wipe it out when you’re done using a paper towel. No need to do much more than that.
Now, this isn’t the prettiest of processes. You’re going to notice that your pan starts to discolor in an irregular manner and while it’s building up, the seasoning will be patchy, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
If you could season the pan quickly – the seasoning wouldn’t last, it would just peel off in one big lump.
Over time, these small pieces of seasoning bond together and form a strong and durable surface on the base of your pan.
The Fast Way To Season An Iron Skillet Is In The Oven
This way isn’t quite as good, though some folks swear but it all the same. You can start the seasoning process off with a bit of a boost by using your oven to add a thick starter layer to the base of the pan.
Some people even do this again and again over time to build up an extra thick layer over their skillet.
It works by taking oil and heating it in the pan in the oven, you’re looking to get to the “smoke point” of the oil when it comes to temperature – this allows the carbon chains in the oil to break down effectively and properly protect the surface without destroying those chains.
We found, after fairly extensive testing, that the best oil for oven-based seasoning for iron skillets is refined grapeseed oil.
This gives a strong thin coat that you can build on over time. Highly fatty oils like lard, for example, break down too easily and don’t stick to the pan. Very unsaturated oils, like flaxseed, on the other hand, give a thick layer which breaks too easily.
How To Season Cast Iron Cookware With Refined Grapeseed Oil In The Oven
- Preheat the oven. We’ve found that 200 degrees is the right temperature to get the ball rolling. While you’re heating the oven make sure to gently heat the pan on the stove with nothing in it – this will remove any traces of moisture from it. Then when the oven reaches 200, put the pan inside (without any oil) for 10 minutes. Then remove it and turn the heat up to 300 degrees.
- Add the oil. You want a teaspoon of oil maximum for this. Pour it into the pan and then gently use a clean paper towel, using circular motions, to cover the surface and then remove any excess – the pan ought to look dry when you’re done with a dull finish.
- Then place the pan in the oven when it’s up to 300. In the middle rack and upside down. Then remove the pan from the oven after 10 minutes. And then wipe away any excess oil on the surface of the pan.
- Finally, heat the oven to 400 and then pop the pan back in for an hour. When the hour’s up, your pan has been seasoned.
Note: You can do this twice, if you like, to get a nice start underway but eventually you need to start cooking in the pan to finish the seasoning. It won’t season properly without real use.
Final Thoughts On How To Season Cast Iron Cookware
Seasoning an iron skillet is very easy if you want to do it the traditional way.
Just use the pan. If not, and you want to start things moving a little faster, you can season your pan a little in the oven before you put it into use.