Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How To Season Cast Iron Cookware

Hello everybody!  Some more about healthy cast iron cooking today....

While it's true that cast iron is practically indestructible and, like cockroaches, would probably survive an atomic bomb, there are some special things that you must do to keep your pan black and shiny with a non-stick surface.

The first thing after restoring an old piece that you must do is to re-season the pan.  This will fill in the microscopic holes that are in all cast-iron and make your pan smooth as glass (hopefully).  If you buy new cast iron, you can pay a few more bucks and purchase a pre-seasoned piece.  These pans are ready for the oven immediately, after washing the pan with water, no soap.  But you will still need to re-season now and then.

Ok, so you have your pan that needs seasoning or re-seasoning.  Here's how I do it:

1.  Make sure the cast iron is free of rust and gunk (see earlier post).
2.  Rub the entire pan, including handle and bottom, with a thin coat of Crisco or vegetable oil.  I have found that Crisco does better and oil can leave splotches, but I don't generally have Crisco in my cabinet, so I  use Canola oil, which does fine, although there may be a splotch or two.  Don't overdo it with the oil/Crisco, just a thin coat.  If you use Crisco, put a cookie sheet on a lower rung in case the Crisco drips.
3. Put your oven rack on the top-most rung that will still accomodate your pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
4. Place your pan, upside down on the top rung and bake at 400 degrees for one hour.
5. Then turn off your oven and let it cool down with the pan still in it.
6. When the pan in completely cool, remove it from the oven.
7. You may have to repeat this process several times before the pan achieves the sheen that you want.  If it isn't nonstick when you cook most things, then put it through the seasoning process again.  Remember, though, no one is going to cook a hamburger patty or something similar without some sticking.

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