Caring for cast iron cookware might seem like a chore, but it’s a chore that doesn’t take as much time as you’d think and is honestly completely worth the time. The first step in caring for a new cast iron pan is seasoning.
Cast iron pans don’t come with that wonderful smooth, dark surface (unless you purchase a pre-seasoned pan) that skillets handed down over generations have. In fact, before seasoning they can be rather rough. Achieving the beautiful patina that your great-grandmother’s pan has can be achieved over time without much work.
Pictured for your visual enjoyment: Cast Iron Pan, enamel coating outside only.
How To Season Cast Iron
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Place a foil lined baking sheet on the rack beneath the middle rack.
2. Wash your new pan in warm, soapy water. Dry well.
3. Warm the clean, dry pan over medium-low heat on your stove top.
4. Brush 1-2 tablespoons of oil, such as corn, vegetable or grape seed oil over the bottom inside and sides of the pan.
- There should be just enough oil to evenly cover the surfaces without any excess.
- Alternatively, some choose to use vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, or food-grade coconut oil to season cast iron.
5. Place the pan upside down in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for an hour.
- Some people choose not to invert the pan, however. This difference is probably just a matter of personal choice and not right or wrong.
- After the hour of cooking, turn the heat off and allow the pan to cool inside the oven for an hour.
Seasoning your new pan can be helped along if the first few recipes you cook after the initial seasoning process include the use of oil, such as sauteing an onion or deep frying. Over time the pan will become dark and smooth with a beautiful, natural non-stick finish. Additionally, you can repeat this oven seasoning process.
Why Cook with Cast Iron
There are many advantages to cooking in cast iron. In fact, the only disadvantage that I can think of is that the pans are heavy. A small price to pan for a great piece of cookware.
Seasoned, Nonstick Pan
Besides being beautiful, cast iron pans that have been properly seasoned and cared for can offer you a chemical-free non-stick surface to cook on.
Good Investment Piece
Because they don’t contain a chemical non-stick coating there’s no need to toss out a pan the way you’d toss a Teflon coated pan after a few years. They’re incredibly sturdy, too.
A well-maintained cast iron pan will likely outlive you. For a relatively small price you’ve purchased a pan that you can one day hand down as a family heirloom.
Sure a cast iron skillet takes longer to heat, it is a wonderful heat conductor – the heat is even and well maintained. Additionally, cast iron is one of my favorites to cook with because it is safely used stove top or in the oven, unlike traditional coated non-stick pans.
Increase Your Iron Consumption
If you suffer from anemia, you may want to consider cooking in cast iron. Evidence suggests that eating food cooked in cast iron will increase the amount of iron in your diet.(source)