With a cast iron pan, your cooking days are endless. Not only will it always give you super even heat, it’s a pan that will last for years. Choosing the right seasoning for your pan is an art in and of itself, and after a few tries, you could be making your own seasoning at home.
But first, what is cast iron seasoning?
Seasoning is the process through which cast iron pans acquire a film of oil that seals the surface of the pan. This seasoning helps to prevent rust, sticking, and iron transfer to the food being cooked. If the seasoning is removed, the iron will rust, the food will stick, and the iron will stain the food.
So how to season a cast iron pan ? We’ll let you in on a couple of secrets that have proven to make a big difference when seasoning a cast iron pan.
Method 1 for seasoning cast iron pans
Although some methods require the use of vegetable oil, you want to use “cold-pressed” flaxseed oil. It has a higher smoke point and other benefits.
1) The oiling process
Many instructions tell you to bake the pan upside down in an oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. A better temperature for seasoning is 450 degrees. Cast iron is a porous metal. The higher the heat, the more pores open. This leads us to the use of cold-pressed flaxseed oil.
Note:Have you ever wondered why artists’ images remain brilliant for many years? This is often because they mix linseed oil with their colors. It is a “drying” oil. Do not dry in the direction of evaporation, but dry in the sense that it creates the hardest polymers.
Flaxseed oil fills the pores of the highly heated pan and creates a process called “polymerization”.
After 1 hour, turn off the oven and let the pan cool IN THE OVEN. A well-seasoned cast iron pan will break (or caramelize) food. Much, much better than a non-stick frying pan.
2) Rinse it in water
When you’re done cooking, simply let the pan cool and then use a brush to rinse it with warm water to loosen any particles.
One problem with a cast iron pan is that it needs to be heated. You can throw your non-stick frying pan on the stove, turn on the fire and it will heat up pretty quickly.
As soon as your cast iron pan has been heated “evenly” at all times, this will also be the case.
BUT you see, a cast iron pan is the workhorse of frying pans in your kitchen! And the more you use it, the better it will be. Do you really think that your non-stick pan will remain Alive & Well in 75 years? A well-kept cast iron pan has been around longer than you are alive!
Method 2 for Cast iron pan seasoning
- Clean pan, removing any debris.
- Dry well.
- Rub all surfaces with cooking oil.
- Bake it in oven at 450 degrees for an hour.
- Allow pan to completely cool in oven.
- Anytime you wash it, do not scrub it, and dry immediately.
Method 3 for Cast iron pan seasoning (From lodge Cast Iron company)
Lodge Cast Iron says:
If food sticks to the surface, or you notice a dull, gray color or if rust appears, follow the seasoning process below.
- Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. (It is okay to use soap this time because you are preparing to re-season the cookware).
- Rinse and dry completely.
- Apply a very thin, even coating of MELTED solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware inside and out. Too much oil will result in a sticky finish.
- Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven (not directly on bottom) to catch any drips.
- Set oven temperature to 350 – 400 degrees F.
- Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven to prevent pooling.
- Bake the cookware for at least one hour. After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.
- Store the cookware uncovered, in a dry place when cooled.
- Repeat as necessary.
When to reseason cast iron?
Typically, you’ll only need to maintain or touch up the seasoning on a cast-iron skillet over its lifetime. However, if the seasoning becomes very dull or damaged (seasoning flakes off) or if it rusts badly (cannot be scrubbed away), you’ll need to overhaul it by stripping and reseasoning the surface.
It’s time to reseason your cast-iron cookware if it has rusty patches, appears dull, or isn’t as nonstick as it once was. Most cast-iron pans, even those that get a lot of use need to be reseasoned. It’s simple to restore worn-out cast iron and make it look smooth and glossy again. Just follow the same seasoning process described below to reseason your cast iron and give it a new life.
Why is my cast iron sticky after seasoning?
Among the reasons of cast iron pans still sticking even after a seasoning: There was too much oil in the pan while it was heating in the oven. Only enough oil should remain after wiping the pan clean with a paper towel. Before putting it in the oven, it should be almost dry.
You either used too much oil or the pan did not heat up quickly enough after you rubbed it with it.
There are two options available to you:
- Heat it to a very high temperature. If it smokes and the surface becomes dry, black, and shiny, you’re good to go. If you use too much oil, the oil will be baked into a glaze that looks like furniture lacquer and will be very difficult to remove unless you put it in the oven on the clean cycle. (This will completely eliminate the cure.)
- Scrubbing off this layer is your best bet. Use a brillo/steel pan scrubber and hot water. When the residue has been removed, heat the pan on the stovetop. When it’s hot. Take a thick pad of cloth or paper towel, dab it with a very small amount of oil (flaxseed is ideal, but other high smoke point vegetable oils will work), and rub it on the hot pan. As the volatile part of the oil burns away, leaving a dry black surface, this will smoke. Just keep doing this until you’ve covered everything evenly. If the surface is tacky, you’re either using too much oil or the pan isn’t hot enough.