How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet?

There is hardly a kitchen utensil or appliance that can stand up to the cast iron skillet. And how can it? Iron skillets and Dutch ovens have been around forever. They heat evenly and are versatile. You can use them anywhere such as on the stove top, camp fire, your kitchen oven, and grill. Anywhere you can get heat you can use a skillet. There is not a need for special cooking utensils as you do not have to worry about scratching the bottom. Cast iron skillets are a great tool in the kitchen yet are overlooked. Why?

Most people feel that cast iron skillets leave a bad taste in your food or that everything sticks when you cook. What they fail to realize is that a properly seasoned cast iron skillet is way more effective than a chemically coated skillet. But it is not there fault, they just did not know how to season it properly. And to do it properly, it may take up to several attempts to get the desired seasoning. The object of seasoning is to bake oil into the pores of the skillet and eventually have a black coat or non stick surface on the bottom of our pan. This not only helps as far as keeping foods from sticking, but also adds flavor to your food.

The Process of Seasoning an Iron Skillet

With any new or refurbished skillet, the first thing you will want to do is give it a quick rinse to clean any surface dirt. After drying with a paper towel then it is time to find some oil or animal fat. At this time you will also want to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. This is just a starting temp and others have been known to go much higher. Once you have located the oil source and turned on the oven you then need to apply a very generous amount of oil to the inside of the pan. Obviously there is not a need for a lake of oil inside the pan, but just short of that is the goal.

season-iron-skillet

The next step is to place the pan upside down on the top rack of the oven. Yes, oil will run out and yes, something needs to be there to catch it. A cookie sheet will work and even better if it is wrapped in aluminum foil. You will want to leave the pan in the oven for at least an hour if not a little bit longer. It will smoke a little bit, but that is normal as the oil is baking into the skillet. After the minimal time has elapsed you can pull the skillet out to cool. Opinions vary but many people repeat this process a few times even before using it for the first time. That is up to you but it will only get better the more times you season your skillet. A few things may still stick a bit, like maybe eggs. But after a while that should not be a problem.

Using Your Iron Skillet

Although a cast iron skillet is the way to go, there is a few words of caution. The most important one is safety. They get very hot, especially the handle. Please exercise common sense when using your iron skillet. Some will say to not wash your skillet, but a quick wash of soap and water will not hurt. You just do not want to soak your skillet in soapy water and ruin all the hard work you did. It is also important not to put cold water into a hot pan as it will crack right there on the spot. You will not want to store any food, especially acidic food, in your skillet as it will pull iron out leaving a metallic taste. But aside from those few minimal things, a cast iron skillet is prime tool in any real cooks kitchen and you should not be without one.