Cooking with cast iron has been regaining popularity recently. Despite what you may believe cast iron is easy to clean and care for. Learning how to season a cast iron pan is very simple.
What does it mean to season cast iron?
The key to the nonstick capabilities of cast iron is having a good season on your pan.
A well seasoned cast iron pan is nonstick without any of the icky chemicals that give traditional nonstick pans their nonstickyness. Nonstickyness is now a word. I declare it so.
Seasoning is the process of baking oil into the cast iron. It is technically called polymerization. When oil is heated to a high enough temperature it changes states from a liquid into a slick, hard surface. Without this protective layer your cast iron pan will rust due to the exposure of moisture and air. Also, without this protective layer you do not get the nonstick protection that cast iron users love.
Three Easy Steps To Season Your Cast Iron Pan
Okay if you were intimidated by polymerization then you are about to be blown away by the simplicity of how to season your cast iron pans.
- Rub melted shortening or vegetable oil all over your cast iron pan. You want a glossy sheen but not so much oil that it is dripping. Put the oil not just on cooking surfaces but also the handle, the bottom, and just all over. I use a paper towel to do this.
- Put your cast iron pan upside down into a 450 degree oven for one hour. You may want to place some foil on the oven rack below your pan to catch any oil that drips off.
- Allow pan to cool
It really is that simple.
A Few Important Notes
- If you use too much oil then your pan will come out sticky. This is why is use a paper towel to apply the oil and make certain that I am not using too much.
- You can use other types of oil. Grape seed oil is a favorite for many due to having such a high smoke point but it is not usually an oil that most people keep on hand. You can also use vegetable oil, melted shortening, or canola oil. I personally like to use avocado oil or melted shortening.
- Do not use olive oil! Olive oil is great to cook with but has a low smoke point and you do NOT need this kind of mess in your kitchen. Think smoke alarms and nasty smells. Yuck.
- Yes you should put the pan upside down. If the pan is right side up then any extra oil may collect inside the pan and become a sticky mess.