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How to Season your Cast Iron Cookware Like a Pro

Posted by Rachel Schwartz on 5/29/2020

Cast iron cookware is great to have in the kitchen. While a little heavy, you can make some amazing things in a cast iron skillet or whip up a big breakfast easily with a cast iron griddle, etc. They also can last for decades if taken care of properly. One way to do that is to make sure your cookware is seasoned and seasoned properly. Despite common misconceptions, seasoning cast iron is not hard and doesn't take many tools at all. 

The first step to seasoning your cast iron is to make sure it is clean. To do this, simply wash it with hot water, a little soap, and a sponge. Soap should only be used to clean cast iron if it is brand new, new-to-you like a secondhand find, or you have stripped the seasoning to redo. Otherwise, hot water, a sponge, and some coarse salt is  what you should use to clean seasoned cast iron. 

Once cleaned, do a final rinse in cold water--this will help prevent rust from forming--and rub your cast iron pieces dry. It's important that you rub the pieces dry with a towel as a any lingering wetness could result in rust later. While you are drying your cast iron, go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 

After making sure that your cast iron is 100% dry, taking a cooking oil or baking grease (coconut oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, Crisco, etc.) and a towel or paper towel and coat the entire piece in oil using the towel to apply it. If your cookware has enamel areas--like the handle--then you can skip those parts with the oil. It's important to really work the oil into the cast iron so that the surface doesn't look greasy and there are no areas with excess oil when you're finished. If there are, the excess oil could pool and form small hardened droplets or leave you with sticky areas at the end of the process. 

Once all the oil has been rubbed into the surface, turn your cookware upside if it's a pot or skillet and place it in the oven to bake for an hour. After an hour, turn the oven off but leave the cast iron in the oven to cool. Once it has fully cooled, congratulations! You are now the owner of perfectly seasoned cast iron cookware!

To maintain your cast iron pieces in between seasonings, use a stiff brush and coarse salt under running water when cleaning after use. Never use soap unless you are going to re-season your cast iron! There is no set amount of time to re-season your cast iron, but if food is sticking to the pan, rust appears, or you experience a metallic taste after cooking, then it's time to re-season. 

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