Cast Iron Cookware 411

Here are some handy dandy tips for seasoning and maintaining your cast iron cookware from What’s Cooking America. <– Learn more at that link.

 

How To Season Cast Iron Pans and Cast Iron Skillets:

Definition of Seasoning: To season a cast iron pan means to create a slick and glassy coating by baking on multiple thin coats of oil. This will protect the cast iron pan from getting rusted and makes for a non-stick cooking surface.

  • You season a cast iron pan by rubbing it with relatively thin coat of neutral food-grade oil (I stress a light coat of oil). Rub the oil off with paper towels or a cotton cloth. The pan will look like there is no oil left on the surface, but there is as the oil is just very thin (the pan will look dry, not glistening with oil).

    Use vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, etc.), shortening (like Crisco shortening) or lard for seasoning your cast iron pans.  I recently experimented and found out that food-grade coconut oil/butter also works great.

  • Place the cast iron pan, upside down, in the oven, with a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom to catch any drips. Heat the pan for 30 minutes in a 450 to 500 degree F. oven. Once done, turn off the oven, and let the pan cool to room temperature in the oven. Repeating this process several times is recommended as it will help create a stronger “seasoning” bond. I usually do this process 3 to 4 times. NOTE: Seasoning cast iron pans does generate smoke similar to cooking in a dirty oven.

  • The oil fills the cavities and becomes entrenched in them, as well as rounding off the peaks. By seasoning a new pan, the cooking surface develops a nonstick quality because the formerly jagged and pitted surface becomes smooth. Also, because the pores are permeated with oil, water cannot seep in and create rust that would give food an off-flavor. Your ironware will be slightly discolored at this stage, but a couple of frying jobs will help complete the cure, and turn the iron into the rich, black color that is the sign of a well-seasoned, well-used skillet or pot.

  • Never put cold liquids into a very hot cast iron pan or oven. They will crack on the spot!

  • Be careful when cooking with your cast iron pans on an electric range, because the burners create hot spots that can warp cast iron or even cause it to crack. Be sure to preheat the iron very slowly when using an electric range and keep the settings to medium or even medium-low.

Important: 

Unless you use your cast iron pans daily, they should be washed briefly with a little soapy water and then rinsed and thoroughly dried in order to rid them of excess surface oil. 
If you do not do this, the surplus oil will become rancid within a couple of days. 

Remember – Every time you cook in your cast iron frying pan, you are actually seasoning it again by filling in the microscopic pores and valleys that are part of the cast iron surface. The more you cook, the smoother the surface becomes!

How To Maintain Cast Iron Pans and Cast Iron Skillets:

Every time, after I use my cast iron pans, I do the following:

  • Let the cast iron frying pan cool.

  • Wash it with dishwashing soap and water. Never soak or let soapy water sit in the pan for any length of time – just briefly wash it out. Rinse thoroughly, then dry with paper towels. NEVER put cast iron cookware in the dishwasher. 

    A lot of people disagree with using dishwashing soap and water to wash cast iron pans. A chef told me that if a health inspector ever found a pan that had not been washed with soap and water in his kitchen, he would be in trouble. Plus the grease that is left behind will eventually become rancid. You do not want rancid oil in your foods and body.

  • Place the cleaned cast iron frying pan on the heated burner of your stove for a minute or two to make sure that it is bone dry. While the pan is still hot and on the stove burner, lightly oil inside of pan (I mean a light coat) with a neutral cooking oil. I use a paper towel to spread the oil lightly over the pan.

    Neutral Food-Grade Oils –
     Use vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, etc.), shortening (like Crisco shortening) or lard for seasoning your cast iron pans.  I recently experimented and found out that food-grade coconut oil/butter also works great.

  • Leave frying pan on the hot burner of stove for a few minutes. Remove from hot burner and wipe excess oil off the pan with a paper towel.

  • Store your cast iron cookware with the lids off (especially in humid weather, because if covered, moisture can build up and cause rust). Be sure that you place a couple paper towels inside your cast iron pan when storing to make sure that any moisture that forms will be absorbed by the paper towel. Never put the utensil in the dishwasher or store it away without drying it thoroughly.



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3 Responses to “Cast Iron Cookware 411”

  1. Hello, I log on to your blogs like every week.
    Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

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