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Ladyguide: Seasoning your Cast Iron Skillet

It is well established that I’m not really a cook.  I can make about twenty things, and most of those are a version of grilled cheese.  In fact, everything I know how to cook is probably already a recipe on this site somewhere.  But! I do love my cast iron skillet, and thanks to my apathy towards using it very often and giving it a good season regularly, it’s in great shape.

Seasoning cast iron helps to build a non-stick coating on the surface of the pan, and makes the pan more durable.  It only takes a few minutes of work, and seasoning once or twice a year is sufficient to keep it in good working order.

What you need:

Solid vegetable shortening (like Crisco)

Paper towels or clean cloth towels

An oven

A cookie sheet covered in foil

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 350° F.

Cover a cookie sheet in foil, to catch drippings.

With paper towels or a towel (or your hands, if you like to get a little dirty in the kitchen) rub the entire inside of your pan with a generous layer of shortening.

Turn the pan upside down on the cookie sheet, and place it on the center rack of your oven.

Set the timer for three hours, and go do something fun.

When time has passed, carefully remove tray from the oven and let the pan cool for at least half an hour.

Wipe the inside with a towel to remove any extra oil.

That’s it, you’re done!

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

13 replies on “Ladyguide: Seasoning your Cast Iron Skillet”

Mine came pre-seasoned. My understanding is that as long as you maintain the seasoning it should be fine but I am by no means an expert! I never use soap on mine and rub it down with vegetable oil after I use it. If there’s any food stuck to it (which almost never happens) I boil water in it and use a wooden spoon to gently dislodge the stuck food. Then I dry it off and oil it while it’s still warm.

It never hurts to re-season now and then. But the best way to keep the pan at its best is to use it for EVERYTHING. Bake savory breads (cornbreads, especially) in it, sear meat in it, make lots of sauces in it.

I always rinse mine off between uses and use a soft brush to get obvious dirt out. Food just tastes way better when it’s been done in a cast iron skillet. Fact.

It sounds like of like seasoning baking stones. Will washing the skillet out with soap remove the seasoning? Can you wash cast iron with soap? I read somewhere when I was a lot younger that you can use terra cotta pots to make bread if you season them before hand.

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