OT - Mrsmortamixer & Others - How to Season Cast Iron?

AnnaAJuly 13, 2014

About 2 years ago there was a wonderful thread on everyone's methods for seasoning cast iron skillets. I remember a few posters use very high heat - 450+. I can't seem to find that old thread.

I have found some great posts and YouTubes advocating the high oven heat method but am just a bit hesitant and thought I'd read up on it a bit more before I crank the oven up.

Any leads on the old thread, or seasoning experts willing to share their experience?

Thanks all

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Imp.capensis

Sorry I can't help with the old thread, but I just finished using Sheryl Canter's method (linked below) to season my cast iron skillets. I learned about it in a Cook's Illustrated cookbook. The key is flax seed oil, according to Canter & CI. The jury is still out as to whether the seasoning "took" but my skillets did look like Canter's pictures of her seasoned cast iron when I finished. It's such a long process, and I did it over several days. The worst part was getting rid of all the previous seasoning. I've used both pans once since completing the seasoning process, and they worked beautifully (no sticking) but they don't look so perfect now. I'll see how they work when I use them again. My oven doesn't go above 450 so the seasoning may not be as bullet proof as pans seasoned at the prescribed temp (altho I think Canter said temps of 500 are not really required); I only realized afterward that I could have used the grill for the higher temp.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sheryl Canter's cast iron seasoning

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 5:20PM
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rmtdoug

Not a seasoning expert, but have used cast iron for almost 50 years. The seasoning itself is a layer of polmerized oil and food that builds up on the surface of the pan. I've only bought one new cast skillet in my life and seasoned it by simply cooking with it. You use more oil at the start but within a month or two it will start to build up a layer and after a year or two, just a few drops of oil or a half-grape size bit of butter is more than sufficient.

The key to keeping the seasoning is to preheat the pan and never go above medium-high heat. After every time you use it, scrape the bottom with a strait edged metal spatula until no resistance is felt and then rinse under hot water with a soft bristle brush. Never use an abrasive of any kind. I also never use soap. Lightly dry the pan for next use.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:55PM
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new-beginning

The thread on cast iron seasoning showed up not too long ago - basically, very thin coat of cooking oil, put in oven on 475 F for 2 hours - allow to cool, repeat as needed (the inside should have a glazed, shiny, almost glassy appearance)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:01PM
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farmhousebound

We have a collection of old cast iron, some from DH's grandparents and some we have gotten from antique places and DH has cleaned and seasoned. We started giving as wedding gifts to young couples and this are the instructions we include with them for caring:

Use and Care of Cast Iron Cookware

Cooking:
Before cooking coat the inner surface of the cookware with a light coating of bacon grease, solid vegetable shortening, or PAM. Use more for frying.
Cast iron cookware heats evenly, therefore it is not necessary to use extremely high cooking temperatures. Best results are obtained with medium to medium-high temperature settings.
Allow the cookware to heat as the burner does as a very cold pan on a very hot unit could crack.
Uncover hot food after cooking because steam will work to remove the seasoned finish from the cookware.
If possible deglaze the pan while it is still hot. Add a little oil and scrape the glaze from the pan with a spatula. For some sauces you may wish to use wine.
Most residues will wipe out with a paper towel. Frequently this is all the cleaning the cookware will need.
Washing Tips:
More stubborn residue will yield to the Steel Scrubber and Hot Water. Let it soak for a few minutes first. Careful though, cold water added to a hot pan can cause the iron to crack.
Never use Detergent as it will remove the seasoned finish from the pan.
If you feel that you must use soap, use soap, not detergent.
Storing:

Dry on the stove at low heat and then very lightly coat the still warm cookware with bacon grease, a solid vegetable shortening, or PAM. Wipe away all that you can with a paper towel. It is best to store cast iron in a warm dry place with the lids off or upside down.
Newly Seasoned or Reseasoned Cookware:
Do not use detergents or a dishwasher.
The first few times you use your cast iron cookware avoid cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes and beans, or foods with a lot of water content. Instead, fry up some bacon or ham.

Seasoning or Reseasoning

Seasoning is required for new cast iron cookware and any time you detect rust on your cookware or a metallic taste to your foods. Newly seasoned cookware will be brown and perhaps have an uneven color. The more it is used the more seasoned the finish will become. The cooking surfaces will grow darker and become more shiny and non-stick with each use until they finally become black. The cookware can be reseasoned any time you wish (even if it doesn’t need it) this will only improve that slick black non-stick finish that great chefs covet.

Seasoning Instructions:

Wash your cast iron cookware thoroughly with soap and water.
Light rust will yield to steel wool and soap. Heavy rust will require a steel brush or light sand paper. Then apply Coca~Cola to rusty areas for at least ten minutes.
Rinse and dry over low heat to remove all moisture from the metal.
With a paper towel lightly coat the entire surface of the heated pan or pot with bacon grease, solid vegetable shortening, or PAM. (Do not use butter or margarine). Coat the inside, outside, the lids, and corners.
Lower both oven racks to the bottom two positions and place a cookie pan or aluminum foil on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
Bake the cookware upside down at 300 degrees for 90 minutes without pre-heating. Then allow the pan to completely cool in the oven. For darker pans use a higher temperature.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:20PM
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springroz

I usually just put mine in while I bake something..... but NEVER use harsh soap, just water and some salt to scour, if needed, and dry in a warm oven, or over a bit of flame.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:36PM
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AnnaA

These are great tips. Farmhousebound, what a great idea finding used cast iron, cleaning them up and giving as wedding gifts w/ care instructions.

Imp.compensis, never heard of using flax oil, but the rationale makes sense. Springroz, seasoning while baking other things - great idea! New-beginning, that is what I'm reading too, and will likely be doing 3 - 5x per skillet with some sort of solid fat, ie., Crisco. Rmtdoug, yes, I've been learning about polymers - thank you.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:53PM
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spanky_md

I have a lot of enameled cast iron cookware with bare cast iron on the bottoms only and I am planning to use Sheryl Canter's instructions linked above. Since my cookware only needs seasoning on the bottom, not on the cooking surface at all, I am going to use raw linseed oil (which is the same as flaxseed oil, just not food grade). I had to order it online because nobody carries it locally.

Her explanation of why flaxseed oil is the best made a lot of sense to me.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 8:58PM
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christina222_gw

I just rub mine all over with a little oil and pop it in a moderate oven for an hour or so if it needs re-seasoning, which isn't often. I wipe out with a paper towel and use coarse salt if it needs a bit of scrubbing. Constant usage and no soap are the best way to keep them in good shape I think.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 10:41PM
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