Kelly Liston

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When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I knew exactly what I wanted.  An 8-inch unseasoned cast iron skillet.  This would be my FIRST cast iron kitchen tool, can you believe it?  Well, I guess that isn't entirely true.  I do have several pieces of enameled cast iron.

Don't get me wrong, I love my enameled cast iron. The only thing they are missing is the 8-inch skillet.  It is the perfect size for scrambling eggs for the kids.  Not too big, not too small.

I don't know why I have waited so long to buy this $15 kitchen tool.  Until this arrived on our doorstep, I have been cooking my eggs in this non-stick pan that we got as a wedding gift.  Easy, does it there – friends!  I can feel you all staring at me.  Stop it.  Baby steps, remember?

Moving on.  Now I have this lovely skillet and I have to season it.  I knew that I wanted to do my own seasoning because I didn't want any canola, soy, or vegetable oils in the skillet I would be cooking my food with.  Why not?  Mostly because they are rancid and genetically modified.  I really didn't need any more reasons than those.  I prefer to use the healthiest cooking oils for these kinds of tasks!

So, where to begin?  All I knew about how to season cast iron was that I had to oil it and cook it and oil it and cook it, and that was about where my knowledge ended.  Turns out, Google seems to know a lot about seasoning cast iron!  A lot of websites had great advice that mostly turned out to be the same.  So, I decided to wing it (kinda like how I do a lot of things around here) and see how I would do.  I started with this shiny, new skillet.

Brand new cast iron skillet – right out of the box

To start, I preheated my oven to 350F degrees.  While it heated up, I oiled my skillet with coconut oil using a paper towel.  I just wiped it all over.  Friends, don't do what I did and oil the bottom!  For some reason, I thought this was necessary.  In hindsight, I realized I would be placing this skillet on a hot stove.  No oil needed on the bottom.  (Sometimes I do stupid stuff.)  When the oven was ready, I placed the skillet upside down in the middle of the oven and put a foil-lined cookie sheet underneath it.  I cooked it for an hour then turned off the heat and left the skillet to cool in the oven.  When it was cool, this is what I found:

After the first round in the oven.

I do want to mention that your skillet will smoke during the curing process.  And it makes your kitchen kinda smelly.  But it will be worth it, trust me.

The next day, I did it all over again.

After the second round in the oven.

Then again:

After the third round in the oven.

And one last time for good measure:

After the fourth round in the oven.

I should be clear that each time I placed the skillet in the oven, I first wiped it with coconut oil.

Now I decided that it was time to inspect my work.  I didn't think there was a test more fitting that scrambled eggs.  I had my fingers crossed for non-stick.  That was the idea right?

I made them how I always make them.  Heat the pan, melt some butter, and add the eggs. The whole experience was beautiful.  The eggs never stuck.  They slid right across the bottom as my spatula did all of the work.  My heart sang and I may or may not have done a little happy dance.

After the first test drive!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, there are a couple egg bits on the side.  I am telling you, nothing was sticking during cooking.  Nothing.  I can happily say that I successfully seasoned my first cast iron skillet, and I am stoked!

Now what?  I have a dirty dish.  Do I just wipe it out?  Rinse it out?  Use soap?  No soap?  Again, google had LOTS of different advice.  I decided to go with my gut on this one and rinsed it out using hot water and a scrubbie.  I got all of the food off, dried it with a towel and then set it on a low burner on my stove to dry it out some more.  Before I put it away, I wiped a thin (tiny bit, really) layer of coconut oil to make it happy.

I have used it many times, and it is going great.  This curing method certainly worked for me and so far the cleaning and storing method is going well.  What about you?  What are your curing and cleaning secrets?  Do tell!  Are you still afraid of cast iron care?  I am here to tell you, it is super easy.  Now go get yourself one!

 

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33 Comments on “How to Season Cast Iron”

    1. Avatar

      I linked to the cast iron skillet that I have in the body of the post. Anyway, my hubby bought it for me. I think his reasoning was that it was 8 inch and it was unseasoned. He didn’t focus on brand too much. Just my requests. ๐Ÿ™‚

      http://amzn.to/15fMWX6

  1. Avatar

    Thank you for this timely post. I was just (30 seconds ago) looking at pre-seasoned nonstick cast iron skillets and trying to find out what they’re seasoned with, etc… Now I’ll just get an unseasoned one and do it myself!

  2. Avatar

    your methods look great- the only thing I do differently is that I never use metal scrubbies, or metal utensils with it. That will scrape off all the seasoning that you just spent all that time putting on. I have seen pans that have been used for 10 years, daily, and still have no seasoning on the bottom, and plenty of seasoning on the walls of the skillet, since people have used metal utensils and scrubbies- it scrapes off the seasoning Just wipe it clean. If there is anything stuck, heat the pan with some water, and gently use a wood scraper or spatula to scrape off the stuck food- dont use scrubbies, unless you have to- if the pan is bought at a thrift store, or gets neglected and then rusts, then use scrubbie, but its adviseable to re-season after doing so. I love your blog!

    1. Avatar

      Thanks for the tip! While I did use a scrubbie, it wasn’t metal. I agree that metal would be too abrasive, here.

  3. Avatar

    I season new pan with lard or coconut oil AND salt; put on top burner of stove, heat up, until it smokes, then turn down to med. low for an hour. Grand parents used to use salted pork fat to do this chore; never washed with soap, just wiped out with paper.

  4. Avatar

    Great post. I’ve recently been determined to finally, season my carbon steel wok (after having it for about seven years). Since I’ve successfully done that, and I’m about to get a propane cooktop (another finally) I’ve been thinking about getting out my cast iron, some of which I never did season, and setting to work. Your instructions, and success, have given me the confidence to attempt this daunting task! I’m feeling confident in what needs to be done, so when the cooktop is ready, so, to, will my cast iron be! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Avatar

    I just seasoned some of my old cast iron skillets last night! I used coconut oil and put them in my oven on 250 and left them for several hours. Seem to be doing great tonight :). My skillets (9 of them) are all either from yard sales/thrift stores, or handed down from my husbands grandmother and I use them daily. A couple of them just needed a bit of attention after the DH left them immersed in water/soap in the sink.

  6. Avatar

    Recently bought 2 skillets at a thrift store. They’re Lodge. Don’t know how long they’ve been there. Perfect sizes, 12″ & 8″. My problem is, I’ve scrubbed n scrubbed with rags, veggie brushes, even soap and water (gasp) all to my dismay. I cannot get the pans to wipe clean. My hands are black. The rag is black and so are my brushes! I’ve oiled and baked upside down per directions (300 degrees for an hr, then oven off). I thought, what the heck, I’ll sautee some green pepper, onions, sausage with a little olive oil & ghee and top with some tomato sauce. Nothing stuck, but when I rinsed out with hot water and swiped with a paper towel….. More black …. I guess I got my weekly dose of iron eating the sausage combo over rice. Was delicious, really couldn’t ‘taste’ the iron. I have a 6″ that was my Dad’s (at least 50 yrs old) …. seasoned so well, perfect for pancakes, they just slide out, wipe out … done, easy~peasy. Do I just keep scrubbing & oiling & baking …. or should I use the stovetop? Any suggestions?

    1. Avatar

      If you are trying to strip the old seasoning the easiest way is to just put it in the oven and run the self cleaning oven feature. Then season with flaxseed oil. (Because it has a low smoke point it works the best for seasoning, just don’t COOK your food with it!)

      1. Avatar

        Wow, what a good idea … except I don’t have a self-cleaning oven, unfortunately. Guess I’m in for a workout this weekend. Scrub, scrub, scrub and more scrubbing. I know it’s a ‘no-no’ to use steel wool, but in this case, would anyone suggest it?

        1. Avatar

          If you are trying to “rehab” a cast iron pan I think steel wool is ok. At least, my husband’s grandma suggested it to me when my pans turned rusty after we moved.
          I don’t think you’re supposed to cook tomatoes in it though – the acidity reacts to the pan.

    2. Avatar

      the best way to clean an “abused” cast iron skillet is to pour in some oil ‘n salt it heavily. the salt will act as the “scrubber” ‘n break down the “gunk”. never, ever use soap ๐Ÿ™ always make sure ya dry ’em well either on the stove or in the oven (preferred). always apply a thin coat of oil beforehand until it’s well seasoned, then it won’t be required except fer touch-ups if they are heavily used. i have 4 cast iron skillets. one which was my great grandmothers ‘n has been passed down, the other 3 are from garage sells. if it’s jest horribly disgustin’ (as some are), heat up the skillet in the oven at 250 with a light coatin’ of oil. grab yer oven mitt, take it out ‘n pour a thin layer of salt. put it back in the oven for a couple of hours on 200. while it’s still warm, use a scrubby. on some, this process has to be repeated several times. this will also get the rust off. never pass up on a cheap rusted skillet, they are worth the effort to bring ’em back to life.

  7. Avatar

    The one thing I would add to this post is to make sure the cast iron products you buy are NOT made in China. Buy American made and eliminate the worries of dangerous chemicals in the iron. To my knowledge, the Lodge brand of cast iron is the only brand still made in the USA (in Tennessee). You can also find older brands that were made in the USA but not still in production, such as Griswold & Wagner, which you can find in antique stores from time-to-time.

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      So glad for your information Karen. Just looked a the bottom of my Dad’s pan … and it’s a “Griswold”. Awesome ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Avatar

      The Cajun Cookware linked from Amazon above are made in China. I bought the 3 pack of skillets (unseasoned).

  8. Avatar

    Pam, I read about & am using easy off. Spray, tie it up in a trash bag for 2-5 days, wipe off & repeat if needed. Easy cheese.

    1. Avatar

      Thanx Amanda, I used Dana’s method and it worked splendidly! My little condo smelled pretty bad for a while with all the smoking from the pans. Just propped back door open. Worked great! I’ll prob repeat tmrw…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Avatar

    great post! i love my cast iron pans, we don’t use anything else. on the rare occasion you do get sticking, fill the bottom of the hot pan with some water and let it sit. i also love that you can use a metal spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan with no worry of ruining the pan. we have a smooth top stove and cast isn’t recommended for use with them. we took our pans into the garage and and used the electric sander, or maybe it was a grinder, anyway it was electric and it smoothed the bottom of the pans so we have no worry of them scratching the stove top. you may need to go through the process of seasoning the pan once in a while, but it’s well worth it. my husband makes wonderful omlets and i love cornbread baked in ours. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Avatar

    I use The Big Green Egg to season my cast iron, fry pans pots Dutch ovens hot plates & the like, I load the egg up with charcoal put all my cast-iron in then open the egg up (open the bottom draught slide, leave the top Damper off) then just let it get as hot as it wants, let cool down overnight, in the morning all done, oil everything of cause

  11. Pingback: How to Restore a Cast Iron Skillet | Mama and Baby Love

  12. Pingback: How to Restore a Cast Iron Skillet | Mama & Baby Love

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