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Kitchen Tip: Caring for Cast Iron Cookware

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.

how do you season cast iron

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.

are there benefits to cooking in cast iron

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.

Even Cooking

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)

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Brooks

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

I just pulled my cast iron skillet out of the oven after the follow the curing instructions and it is almost glass like on the inside bottom surface, I had cleaned the bottom with salt to clean up what was likely years of pour maintenance. It looks great but is that normal, most pictures I have screened picture a dull surface.

sarah

Thursday 25th of October 2012

Found out that the reason most people say to put the pan in the oven upside-down for seasoning is to prevent pooling of the oil or lard in the bottom of the pan. Just FYI.

Bill

Wednesday 17th of October 2012

Hi Katie, new food blogger here and just discovered your blog. You've done a great job. I just read this post and I agree with you about cast iron. It's a great way to cook and I have one of every size. I'll definitely be following your blog. Thanks for sharing!

Bracken

Monday 2nd of July 2012

I have one of those flat glass top /ceramic stoves.....other than worrying about placing the pan carefully on the burner so as not to break it from the weight of the cast iron pan, is it safe to use on that type of stove? Are there things to consider in using a cast iron pan on a glass top that you wouldn't with other type pans?

Dom

Saturday 11th of August 2012

Hi - I used my Le cresuet ware for years on a glass top stove, without any problems. But I have a few tips:

- never drag the pan across the glass as it can scratch the oven top and is not very safe for you either, always lift it and replace in gently on a new burner. - be aware of the type of stove you have, Vitro-ceramic burners take a while to heat up, but that is fine as it is always better to warm cast iron gently so the heat is evenly distributed. Induction stoves (which use magnetic fields to generate heat directly in the cast iron itself) have a lot of the immediate advantages of cooking on a gas stove; it is still best, however, to gradually heat the pans up - since rapidly raising and lowering the temperature will create to spots in the pan surface. This is not really dangerous, searing meat for a stew for example, but you need to give the pan time for the heat to distribute itself more evenly once searing is done.

Katie

Monday 6th of August 2012

Sorry, I don't have any experience with those type of stovetops. I have always cooked on gas. I would consult the manufacturer to find out their recommendations.

Jo Nosbisch

Friday 30th of March 2012

Hi I am a 71 yr.young Grandmother and I have 2- Iron frying skillets & 1- large chicken fryer and 2- small skillet for eggs (or a one person pan:) They belonged to my Grandmother,my Mother and now I have them & LOVE them. I gave the Large Dutch oven w/lid to my son and he uses it on his wood stove.. just keeping in the family..