How To Season You Cast-Iron Skillet
Make your cast-iron skillet last a lifetime by seasoning and cleaning it properly. A cast-iron skillet can be used to cook on the stovetop, the oven or the grill. A good iron skillet can be passed down as an heirloom if taken care of properly. Show your cast-iron cookware a little TLC and pass it down through your family’s generations to come!
Traditional cast-iron skillets do not emerge from the box with a non stick surface. Seasoning is the process of making your cast iron non-stick, a technique which defends against wear.
You will need a cast-iron skillet, vegetable shortening, heavy paper towels, mild soap, warm water, and an oven. Seasoning and re-seasoning a new skillet are performed the same, with the exception of the first step.
First, wash your new skillet in warm water with mild detergent. This removes the factory anti-rust coating. If you are re-seasoning a skillet, be sure to wipe the entire surface with hot water and a clean wash cloth or paper towel.
After you have washed your skillet, dry it by heating it on the stove top. When the pan has dried allow it to cool. While the skillet is cooling, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.
When the skillet has cooled completely place a dollop of shortening inside. A 10” skillet usually requires about 1/4th of a cup shortening to thoroughly coat the skillet. More can be added as required to cover the skillet entirely.
Fold the paper towel once down the center, then again horizontally. Then take the paper towel and coat the interior and the exterior down to the bottom edge and the handle liberally. Do not coat the bottom of the skillet because it will produce smoke on any cook surface that it touches as it burns off the shortening.
Once you have thoroughly coated the skillet, place it in the oven at 200 degrees. Set your timer for three hours. Seasoning your skillet at this low temperature allows the cast-iron pores to expand and the shortening to penetrate as it liquefies.
After three hours, remove your skillet from the oven and allow it to cool. Once the skillet is cool enough to touch, wipe it down with another paper towel in order to remove most of the shortening, leaving a thin coat on the surfaces. After about an hour has passed, wipe the skillet down again. After this final wipe you will be able to tell a noticeable look and feel in your skillet.
Now you are ready to use your skillet!
For the first couple of uses plan on cooking something greasy like bacon or sausage. This will help to heat cycle and re-coat the interior surface which will make the non-stick coating better. Also, be prepared for your skillet to smoke the first couple of times you use it after seasoning, as it heat cycles and burns off the water trapped in the pores and the excess lard.
Maintain you cast-iron skillet by wiping the interior every couple of months with bacon grease during a heat cycle or cooking something greasy. Re-season about every 2 years following the process above for best results.
Never allow food to sit in the skillet as this will remove the seasoning and wash the skillet out using very mild soap and warm water. NEVER wash your cast-iron skillet in the dishwater. Doing so will remove the seasoning layer.
After each use wash then dry your cast-iron skillet on the stove top. Turn the burner on high and place the wet skill on it for about a minute. This process will heat the skillet up enough to dry the water and heat cycle the pores, keeping everything about your skillet as it should be.
There is only one thing you should not attempt in cast-iron cookware- boiling water. Boiling water will cause the pan to rust. Other than that, cast-iron cooking is good for anything you have a craving for, be it peach cobbler, homemade biscuits or soup.
Cast iron takes longer to warm than other surfaces, however, it retains heat remarkably well and diffuses it evenly. It also remains hot long after it is removed from the heat source. Cooking in cast-iron also increases iron content in food. The longer the food is in contact with the cast-iron the more iron it absorbs.