How to PROPERLY Season your Cast Iron Cookware

Ugh! Why, oh why is it that people don’t understand what seasoning really is? Once again, FROM THE TOP:

  1. First, cast iron is STEEL. It’s just very high-carbon steel. Look up a complete steel phase change diagram.
  2. When people would buy cast iron cookware, the first thing they would do is scrub it with either steel or copper wool or a wood bristle brush and sand to remove all the rust.
  3. Then, they’d wash it with soap to remove all grease, dirt and impurities.
  4. Then, they’d heat it over a fire until good and warm, about 180 to 250 degrees – from “too hot to touch” to “water will sputter.” The fire would impart a fine layer of soot.
  5. Here’s where the magic begins: They’d wipe some sort of vegetable oil (olive, linseed, doesn’t matter) all over the pan as a preservative until it’s first use.
  6. Here’s where the magic continues: Before cooking, they’d toss a dollop of lard, grease, or a chunk of animal fat into the pan.
  7. Here’s where the magic explodes: They’d cook their food. Seriously — THIS is what seasons a pan. Cooking. That’s the magic.
  8. Here’s where the magic concludes: After cooking, they’d splash water in a hot (250 deg F) pan, toss the results, and when it cooled, rubbed oil on the pan.

THAT’S IT, people: 1) Grease before cooking, 2) Hot scrub (water only) and rinse, 3) Oil before putting away. This guy gets it right.

That’s ALL “seasoning the pan” involves. It literally meant one would use it for a season, or after using it for a season, it’d be broken in.

They did NOT coat it with linseed oil and stick it in the oven!

Okay, repeat after me: “I will NEVER try to “season” my cast iron cookware! I will instead clean it and oil it before storage, and use grease (solid fat at room temperature) before cooking, and THAT IS ALL!!!

Thirty-five years ago, I had a girlfriend who grew up in Appalachia. She taught me how to properly care for my pans because her mother taught her. Her mom’s pans were perfect. After listening to her, mine became perfect, as well. I now have five perfectly seasoned cast iron pots, pans and a griddle. I NEVER “seasoned” any of them in the oven. That’s NOT “seasoning.”

Updated: December 23, 2020 — 10:56 pm