I remember the first time I heard the term “seasoning your cast iron”. I had no idea what that meant. Furthermore, it prevented me from using cast iron for years. It seemed daunting and frankly I assumed it was more work that I was willing to put in. Oh how wrong I was.
Fast forward 15 years later, and I LOVE my cast iron. I use these pans all the time. The cooking is even, the cleanup a breeze, and the versatility unmatched. Cast iron can be used to make bread, braise meats, sear steaks, and it helps make the BEST popovers and crisps. I could yammer on all day about my love for this kitchen tool, but I am sure you get my point.
I have decided to dedicate this post to the caring of your cast iron. My contribution to demystifying the art of seasoning, and maintaining the pristine condition of your pots and pans. Hoping to prevent current and future home cooks from avoiding this incredible cooking method due to confusion around preservation of the equipment.
Seasoning your cast iron is a simple as following a few quick and easy steps.
First step, is to preheat your oven to 350°. Place the oven rack top 1/3 of oven with second rack bottom 1/3 of oven. Cover the bottom rack with tin foil or use a sheet pan with parchment and place on that bottom rack.
Next, using a vegetable shortening such as crisco, wipe the inside of pot or pan with a thin coating of the shortening. I use a piece of wax paper to do this. Be sure to coat it evenly.
Place the pot or pan upside down on the top 1/3 of the oven. Bake for an hour and then turn the oven off. Leave the pot inside until completely cooled.
How often should you season your pans? It depends on how much you use them, and if your roommate decided to scrub them with a wire Brush. Basically, if the finish is beginning to wear off, it is time.
General Cleaning of your cast iron is just as easy as the seasoning. Simply wash with a mild soap or baking soda and a soft sponge, and if food is stuck to your pan, use dry salt and a lightly damp sponge to release debris. Then rinse under clean water, immediately dry with a towel, and wipe 1 tsp of olive oil over the surface. Then store. Don’t store with lids on. Instead, store with lids off and if you can, store them hanging up.
There you go. That is it. Easy as one, two, three. Now get out there and start embracing the cast iron cooking methods and start to play with them. I promise, you will fall in love.