Cast iron cookware is amazing. I love to use it. But for it to work properly, it needs to be seasoned the right way. Here is an easy way to do that!
I love my cast iron cookware. I have pictured some of the ones I like the best. Years ago, when I still used non-stick frying pans, I read about the dangers of using them if the coating flaked off. When my last frying pan that I had received as a wedding gift finally fell apart, I said “NO MORE!” and cleaned the dust off the stack of cast iron cookware I had been toting around through 10 moves!
I have found some great pieces – a skillet (pictured below) that was a rusty $2 thrift store find. I also have found multiple skillets in various sizes in many states of disrepair. I even have a superb dutch oven with lid that makes the most delicious cube steak with gravy ever!
When I pulled them out, I realized they were in rather sorry shape. So I started looking around for the easiest way to season them. My mom, who had used cast iron for years, shared with me this easy way to take care of my cast iron so I could pass it down to my own kiddos.
You know that you need to re-season your cookware when food sticks, or if it is a dull gray color rather than a dark black. You can see in the picture below that this piece I have (but am not currently using) needs to be re-seasoned.
The steps are really pretty simple.
If you are starting with an older piece of cast iron that has baked on gunk, you can get rid of this in a couple ways. The “old school” way is to stick the cookware into a burning fire to burn everything off. However, there are reports about this method causing a discoloration to the cookware and possibly causing cracks in the iron.
A newer way, if you have the time and a self cleaning oven, is to stick your cookware into your oven while you have it on self cleaning mode. I’ve done this myself, and boy does it burn the gunky mess off. They come out with gray ash, and all you have to do is move to the next step.
If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, you can use soap and a stiff brush, or a steel wool soap pad, to clean, since you know you’ll be re-seasoning it. As a rule, you don’t need to use soap to clean, just hot water, or even wipe out with a paper towel. Rinse the soap off and dry completely.
Once the cast iron piece is clean, you can follow these steps to season it:
- Apply a very thin, even coating of MELTED solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware inside and out. Too much oil will result in a sticky finish. Use a cloth or a paper towel to make sure the amount stays even and thin. (I’ve made the mistake of too much shortening, and I had to re-do it!)
- Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven (not directly on bottom) to catch any drips.
- Set oven temperature to 350 – 400 degrees F.
- Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven to prevent pooling.
- Bake the cookware for at least one hour. After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.
- Store the cookware uncovered, in a dry place when cooled.
- Repeat as necessary.
Once you season your cookware, you will be able to use it for anything. And i you notice it not working as well as you want, all you have to do is repeat the steps above!
If you have cast iron cookware that has been sitting and gathering dust because you aren’t sure how to make it ready for use, give the steps above a try and see how you like them. Give me a shout in the comments below about your experiences or share with me on my Facebook page at My Greener Way
In upcoming posts I’ll be sharing some ideas for recipes to make in cast iron cookware. You could try this Salisbury Steak in a cast iron skillet or even this Refrigerator Soup in a dutch oven. If you have requests, let me know that below too!
Til Next Time