Connect with Chef Alli

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Season Your Cast Iron Cookware in 4 Easy Steps

I love cooking with cast iron!  Let me tell you why:

Cast iron has very even distribution of heat, making it superior for cooking and baking; it does take longer to preheat than some materials, but this is what makes it such a reliable and steady servant in the kitchen. 

It’s versatile – going from the cook top directly into the oven is a plus. Cast iron is also great for serving from at the table because it keeps foods warm for an extended period of time.

And, yes, cast iron is heavy (probably the only down side), but that weight guarantees reliable temperature control and a super hot surface that ensures a good crispy sear on steaks and salmon fillets every time. 

Seasoning Cast Iron
Now days, most cast iron comes pre-seasoned from the manufacturer.  However, there may be times you will need to re-season your cast iron cookware or you may be starting out with an un-seasoned skillet.  Either way, you can follow these steps:
  1. Wash – Only use soap on your cast iron prior to seasoning it and NEVER again.  Rinse well with hot water, making sure to remove every bit of soap.  If you are re-seasoning the surface due to stuck-on fond or food particles, go ahead and use steel wool to create an even, clean surface.
  2. Dry – Place your skillet into a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or on a burner over medium heat for 10 minutes to thoroughly dry. 
  3. Season and Bake – Using canola oil and a paper towel, rub a thin layer of oil all over skillet, including the outside and the handle.  Place cookware into a cold oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Once oven is preheated, bake cookware for 1 hour, then turn oven off and let cookware cool down with the oven.  Once skillet has cooled to room temperature, store in a cool, dry place (I store mine in the oven.), and always coat cookware with cooking oil in between use to maintain seasoning layer. 
  4. To Clean After Use – Never put your cast iron cookware in the dishwasher!  Allow cookware to cool before rinsing with hot water.  If there are food particles that don’t want to come off the bottom and sides of the cast iron cookware, simply simmer some water in the pan for a few minutes until particles loosen and can be removed easily. 

Tips for Cooking with Cast Iron
  • The more you use it, the slicker the seasoned surface will become over time. 
  • Because the bottom of most cast iron skillets is uneven in nature, do not use it on a smooth-top stove.  Heat pockets can form between the bottom of the cook ware and the smooth-top that can cause damage to the cook top. 
  • Remember that cast iron handles become just as hot as the cookware.  Always use a good oven mitt when handling cast iron to prevent burns. 

Now You’re Cookin’ (With Cast Iron!),

Chef Alli