The majority of cooking in my kitchen is done with cast iron pans. Why? Cast iron is virtually indestructible and can easily go from stove-top to oven to open flame. Actually, I can’t think of where it can’t go. (Well, maybe not a microwave but we don’t own one.) Cast iron is easy to maintain and requires little cleaning, but it’s s also inexpensive and long lasting. Most people get hung up on the seasoning of them.
Here’s the seasoning secret: seasoning cast iron is nothing more than putting a glaze on the raw metal so that when you cook with it, the food doesn’t stick. After the initial seasoning is done, they’re super easy to maintain.
What else do I like? No added chemicals. I used to wonder what was peeling off our non-stick pans and going into our food but with cast iron, there’s no peeling.
To season cast iron, simply warm your oven to about 250 degrees and wipe or brush your cookware with olive oil. Place in the oven for 20 minutes and repeat. Do this several times and your pan is ready for action! Clean it with water, baking soda (make this clever baking soda shaker) and a metal scrubby. Don’t let water sit on it otherwise you’ll get rust spots. Don’t be tricked into letting it soak either (my husband and kids think ‘soaking’ is good – it’s really their way of trying to skip out of work) because rusty pans require a little seasoning touch up.
Here’s a short how to video…
Our first cast iron pan was a wedding gift from Brad’s grandmother. As a young bride and inexperienced cook, I almost got rid of the cast iron pan because everything stuck to it! Don’t make my same mistake. Keep the cast iron and season it. It can definitely take the heat in the kitchen!
Do you cook on cast iron? How do you keep it seasoned?
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11 thoughts on “How to Season Cast Iron Pans”
Wow…that’s a great tip Sara. Nothing like a great cast iron pan. Baking soda is magic.
I have always struggled to get a good seasoning on my cast iron…. and have thrown away rusted pans as a result. Great tutorial!
Thanks, Kim! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. You’ll find more cast iron pans easily – that stack in the picture was a discard pile next to a dumpster! Free is a very good price! 🙂
My husband dug a cast iron skillet out of who-knows-where for camping last summer. I think it belonged to his grandparents. It was a brand we weren’t familiar with, so he looked it up online–that particular skillet is worth over $100! Who knew one of the most valuable items we take camping would be an old skillet? 🙂
I know it! We used to take our treasured skillet camping, too. Now it gets a prized position in the kitchen. I had no idea how easy – or desirable cast iron skillets were – until I really started cooking on them. That was after I got rid of the grocery store non-stick skillet we bought as newlyweds! 🙂
I find cast-iron skillets at Goodwill all the time. Some of them need a little scrubbing with steel wool, but they’re a real bargain once cleaned.
Do you periodically re-season your pans? I don’t know if it’s as damp in Portland as it is in Seattle, but mine seem to develop rust by sitting in the cupboard, if I’m not using them often enough. I’ve had to re-season my dutch oven a few times.
And, yes, we have “soakers” in our house, too! Drives me crazy!
I do re-season my pans and should add that we store ours in the oven – so they’re regularly getting a little touch up. You don’t have to store them in the oven but we don’t have much room in our kitchen and the oven is a good spot for them.
What should we do with our soakers???
Hey, are you going to IFBC in September? International Food Blogger Conference. It’s in Seattle. If you are, I’d love to meet!
I looked up the weekend of that conference, and I have two things booked on Saturday and Sunday. 😦
Boo! Another time, I’m sure. Portland and Seattle aren’t that far apart!
I need to find a dryer spot in our kitchen for storing cast iron. Maybe in the cupboard above the fridge.
Many years ago I read Christopher Kimball’s The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook. He described how to season cast iron on the stove. I use a condensed version of his method periodically. After I clean with water, I dry the pan on the stove. Then I let it heat until very hot. At that point I put a bit of olive oil in the pan, and use an old rag to coat the interior. I love cast iron and use it daily.
Oh, very nice, Rebecca! You can’t go wrong with Christopher Kimball. I like the stove top version of this so thank you.
We toured the ‘Test Kitchen’ a couple of years ago. It really impressed the teenagers because we all love to watch that show.
Thanks for the good tips!
I cook with nothing but cast iron on the stove top. We do have one dutch oven that we use on the stove top and in the oven. Cast iron is great to take camping because clean up is so easy. If I cook something simple like, grilled cheese, most of the time I’ll take a little oil and a paper towel to wipe out the pan.
We use a square nylon scrapper thing or a nylon scrub pad and hot water to clean our cast iron. After we dry the pan we coat them we a little oil and they are ready to go! If you get rust on your pans or need to season them do not fear, your oven on low temp is a wonderful place. With it being summer use your grill.
I had some icky marinade stuck to my favorite pan this winter. My husband had some boxes to burn so he put my pan on a grate over our burn barrel. First, he burned the gunk out of the pan then scraped it off. Next, he oiled the pan and it season very nicely. (We used a rag to wipe the pan down good until all the black came off. Then used our final coat of oil.) If you try it this way you need to be very careful/comfortable with your grill and/or an open flame. If not, use your oven. We are outdoorsy people.
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