I’ve already ranted on about the greatness of all-things cast iron. Read my post about the wonderfulness of cast iron here.
As promised, let’s talk about how to season those cast iron suckers. Sometimes cast irons skillets come pre-seasoned, but it is still a good idea to know how to re-season as necessary.
First of all, you should know that it’s super easy. Nothing scary or intimidating here. Essentially, seasoning your cast iron skillet means rubbing it with oil and then heating it. Easy, right?
Here’s 9 common questions answered about seasoning and maintaining your cast iron skillet:
1. Why do I need to season cast iron? Well, it has a porous and rough surface which means food will stick to it very easily. But once you season it with a combination of heat + fat, it becomes a fabulous non-stick surface.
2. How do I season cast iron? Preheat the oven to 350 F. Wash and dry your pan. Add about 1 tbsp of oil (any type is fine, but my preference is olive oil). Rub the oil all over the pan with a paper towel. The entire surface should be shiny but not have any excess oil pooling anywhere. Pop the pan into the oven and bake for about an hour. Turn off the oven and let it cool completely. After seasoning, the surface should be shiny and slippery.
3. How do I maintain seasoned cast iron? Once you’ve seasoned your pan, seal in all that seasoned goodness by using it to sauté food in oil the first few times you use it. This helps the pan absorb even more oil and hold its seasoning. After cooking with acidic foods (tomato, lemon, wine, etc.), re-season it by washing and then wiping it with oil and placing back in oven or on stovetop for a few minutes.
4. How do I wash cast iron? Use a mild abrasive scouring pad. Use soap sparingly- it is rarely necessary. If some food is really stuck on, add a bit of water to the pan and bring to gentle boil on stove top, scraping up bits as they loosen.
5. How do I dry cast iron after washing? There are three ways:
1. Use a paper towel to wipe it- this will save your linens from getting greasy.
2. Place your pan over low-heat on your stove and heat until all moisture is evaporated. (After it dries, you can wipe it down with a little oil and let it sit over the heat to lightly re-season it.)
3. Pop your pan in the oven at low heat until moisture evaporates. (Same as above- after it dries, you can wipe it down with a little oil and leave it in the oven for a few minutes to lightly re-season it.)
6. How do I avoid rusting? Never soak cast iron. Ever. It will rust. Dry it thoroughly after you wash it. (See above.)
7. Help! My pan is rusty- how do I fix it? No stress here- get some steel wool and start scrubbing! Scour the pan with steel wool (or a wire brush) until every speck of rust is gone. Then re-season it as above.
8. What utensils can I use with my cast iron skillet? I recommend using wooden spoons and spatulas. You can use metal cooking utensils, but be a bit gentle when deglazing the pan/scraping up brown bits as it could scratch.
9. When do I need to replace my cast iron skillet? Never. The beauty of cast iron is that it can last forever if well-cared for. Keep it rust-free and season it generously. It will stick with you for many kitchen adventures.
There you go! Now you’re all set to conquer your next recipe, cast iron skillet in hand. If you have any more questions, fire away in the comment section below!