How to Season and Care for Your Cast Iron Skillet
How to Season and Care for Your Cast Iron Skillet. If you’re a fan of cooking, you’ve likely heard of the many benefits of using a cast iron skillet.
These durable pans are perfect for everything from searing steaks to baking bread, and they can even be used over an open flame or campfire.
One of the keys to getting the most out of your cast iron skillet is proper seasoning and care.
Seasoning a new cast iron skillet
Seasoning a new cast iron skillet is a simple process that will help protect the pan and improve its nonstick properties.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)
Before you start seasoning the skillet, make sure to preheat the oven to the appropriate temperature.
This will ensure that the oil or fat you use to season the skillet will be evenly distributed and properly absorbed by the pan.
Step 2: Wash the skillet with warm, soapy water and a scrub brush
Even if your new skillet looks clean, it’s important to wash it thoroughly to remove any manufacturing oils or debris that may be present.
Use warm, soapy water and a scrub brush to scrub the skillet, then rinse it thoroughly and dry it completely.
Step 3: Coat the skillet with a thin layer of vegetable oil or melted shortening
Once the skillet is clean and dry, it’s time to apply the seasoning.
You can use any type of vegetable oil or melted shortening, such as canola oil, grapeseed oil, or lard.
Using a paper towel or clean cloth, coat the skillet with a thin layer of oil or shortening, making sure to get the entire surface, including the handles and sides.
Be sure to use just enough oil to coat the pan; you don’t want to leave any excess oil on the surface.
Step 4: Place the skillet upside down on the top rack of the oven
To make sure the oil or shortening is evenly distributed, place the skillet upside down on the top rack of the oven.
This will allow any excess oil to drip off and prevent pooling in the bottom of the pan.
Step 5: Bake the skillet for 1 hour
Leave the skillet in the preheated oven for 1 hour. This will allow the oil or shortening to bake into the pan and create a durable, nonstick surface.
Step 6: Allow the skillet to cool in the oven before removing it
After 1 hour, turn off the oven and allow the skillet to cool in the oven. This will help to further harden the seasoning and prevent the pan from being damaged by rapid temperature changes.
Caring for a seasoned cast iron skillet
Once you’ve seasoned your cast iron skillet, it’s important to care for it properly to maintain the seasoning and prevent rust from forming.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Clean the skillet immediately after use, while it is still hot
To keep your skillet in good condition, it’s important to clean it immediately after use. This will help to prevent stuck-on food from becoming difficult to remove.
While the skillet is still hot, use a soft sponge or brush to scrub the skillet with warm, soapy water. Be sure to get all the nooks and crannies, including the handles and sides.
Step 2: Dry the skillet thoroughly
After cleaning the skillet, it’s important to dry it thoroughly. If water is left on the surface, it can cause rust to form.
To dry the skillet, you can either use a clean, dry cloth or paper towels, or you can place the skillet on the stove over low heat until it is completely dry.
Step 3: If the skillet is particularly dirty or has stuck-on food, you can use a scraper or coarse salt to gently scrub the surface
If your cast iron skillet is particularly dirty or has stuck-on food, you may need to use a little extra elbow grease to get it clean. In these cases, you can use a scraper or coarse salt to gently scrub the surface of the pan.
Be sure to use a soft scraper or a gentle touch with the salt to avoid damaging the seasoning. Once you’ve removed the stuck-on food, be sure to rinse and dry the skillet as described above.
Step 4: If the skillet has developed rust, use a rust remover or a mixture of equal parts vinegar and baking soda to remove the rust
If your cast iron skillet has developed rust, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. Rust can weaken the structure of the pan and make it more prone to damage.
To remove rust from a cast iron skillet, you can use a commercial rust remover or a mixture of equal parts vinegar and baking soda.
Simply apply the rust remover or vinegar mixture to the rust, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub the rust away with a scrub brush.
Step 5: Once the skillet is clean and dry, coat the surface with a thin layer of vegetable oil to prevent rust from forming
Once the skillet is clean and dry, it’s important to re-season it to prevent rust from forming.
Simply coat the surface of the skillet with a thin layer of vegetable oil, as described in the “Seasoning a new cast iron skillet” section above.
Tips for using a cast iron skillet
To get the most out of your cast iron skillet, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Preheat the skillet before adding food to it:
Preheating the skillet will help to ensure that the food cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Avoid using high heat or exposing the skillet to rapid temperature changes:
High heat and rapid temperature changes can cause the skillet to warp or crack. To avoid these problems, use medium to low heat and avoid exposing the pan to sudden temperature changes.
- Use wooden, silicone, or nylon utensils to avoid scratching the surface:
Metal utensils can scratch the surface of a cast iron skillet, which can damage the seasoning and make the pan less nonstick. To avoid these problems, use wooden, silicone, or nylon utensils instead.
- Do not soak the skillet for extended periods of time:
While it’s okay to soak the skillet briefly to help remove stuck-on food, you should avoid soaking it for extended periods of time. This can cause the skillet to rust and weaken the seasoning.
- Store the skillet in a dry place to prevent rust from forming:
To keep your cast iron skillet in good condition, be sure to store it in a dry place. This will help to prevent rust from forming and ensure that the pan is ready to use whenever you need it.