Seasoning cast iron will make your cookware last longer and food taste better.
Buying cast iron cookware is an investment. While the cookware can be a bit more expensive, it also provides superior cooking quality and flavor for your meals. Seasoning cast iron will not only lead to better flavor, but it will also protect your cookware.
How seasoning cast iron works
Most cast iron cookware comes from the factory pre-seasoned. Any seasoning inconsistencies on your cast iron are normal and won’t hinder cooking performance. Seasoning cast iron cookware is an essential process if you want your cookware to last. Oil is baked into the pores of the iron to prevent rusting and to eventually provide a natural, non-stick cooking surface.
It’s important to re-season your cast iron cookware by applying a thin layer of vegetable oil before you cook and after each cleaning. You can also use cast iron seasoning spray to treat your cast iron. Seasoning cast iron is an ongoing process and the more you use your cast iron, the more the seasoning is improved. Unlike other types of cookware, cast iron only gets better with each use.
What if there’s rust on my cast iron?
Don’t worry if you notice a seasoning bubble, flaking or rusty color on your pan. The rusty color is the first layer of seasoning. Rub oil into this area to improve appearance and seasoning. Flash rusting is normal and can easily be remedied by briskly rubbing vegetable oil with a cloth on the rusting area.
Profile rusting can be seen and felt on the cookware. Remove the rust by scrubbing with a soap pad. Once raw cast iron is revealed, re-season the area immediately.
In severe cases, rust can cover the majority of your cast iron. No amount of scrubbing can remove the rust. To remove the rust, you’ll have to sandblast it until it returns to the raw cast iron. Re-season the raw cast iron right away.
Seasoning cast iron
While maintaining the seasoning should keep your cast iron in good condition, at some point you may need to repeat the seasoning process. If food starts to stick to the surface,or if you notice a dull, gray color or rust, it’s time to re-season.
Start by washing the cookware with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. Soap is normally not recommended for washing cast iron unless you are about to re-season. Soap breaks down the oil you are trying to build. After you wash the cast iron, rinse and dry completely.
Apply a thin coating of melted vegetable shortening both outside and inside the cookware. Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven and place the cookware upside down on the top rack. Bake the cookware for at least an hour at 350-400 degrees. After an hour, turn the oven off and let the cast iron cook in the oven.
Caring for your cast iron cookware
Remember to apply oil before you cook. Only use wooden or silicone cooking tools to avoid scratching the surface of the cast iron. If you are having trouble removing stuck on food, boil some water in the pan to loosen residue.
Always hand-wash cast iron. Don’t put it in the dishwasher. Rinse only with hot water. Scrub with a stiff nylon brush to avoid stripping the seasoning oils from the cookware. Be careful to not put hot cookware in cold water to avoid thermal shock to the cast iron.
Never let the cast iron air dry. Letting the cast iron air dry can cause it to rust. Always towel dry and apply a light coating of oil while the cast iron is still warm. Store cast iron in a cool, dry place. The oven is a great place to store cast iron.