We are all aware that most cast iron skillets if not “all” come pre-seasoned naturally with soy-based vegetable oil or flaxseed seed which gives the skillets a great natural nonstick coating that resists sticks, rust and corrosion. However, without maintenance, the surface sooner or later will lose its nonstick quality and performance. So how to season cast iron skillets? In this guide I will walk you through the details you’ll need to season your skillet the right way.
Do You Have To Season Your Cast iron Skillet
As I have mentioned already, cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned naturally with a strong layer that can offer high resistance and performance. Therefore, you don’t need to treat it the same way as the other types of skillets and apply the first seasoning before use. But, no matter how strong the nonstick layer is if it’s not properly maintained it will eventually lose that quality and in the worst-case scenario, it will damage the skillet to an extent that you will be forced to change it.
How Often Do You Need To Re-season Your Cast Iron Skillet
That depends entirely on the quality of the cast iron skillet and on the user. If you are the type of person that takes good care of his cookware then probably you won’t have to re-season your cast iron skillet for years. If you want to be more cautious, you can add extra layers of seasoning before the first use to strengthen the nonstick quality of the surface so that you can ensure it will withstand heavy cooking for a long time.
How To Tell if a Cast Iron Skillet is Seasoned Properly
A well-seasoned skillet will always look shiny with a smooth surface that’s free from any rust or dry patches. Always test the coating of your skillet with any type of cooking to see if the food sticks or not.
I highly recommend during re-seasoning that you repeat the procedure a few times if necessary to ensure a higher yet stronger coating that can last for years.
How To Season Cast Iron Skillet Using Oven
- Scrub Brush
- Dish Soap
- Dry Cloths or Paper towels
- Vegetable oil
Step 1: Clean and scrub your cast iron skillet in soapy water to remove the rust (Note: make sure to scrub both the inside and the outside to clean all the dirt).
Step 2: Rinse it well and dry it completely using dish cloths or paper towels.
Step 3: Double-check that the whole skillet is dried then pour a bit of vegetable oil or canola oil on the surface to give it a good coating (Note: you can use a paint brush to support you coating both the inside and outside of your skillet).
Step 4: Now the skillet is ready to bake. But, before that, line the bottom rack with aluminum foil to catch excess oil and keep it from smoking.
Step 5: Place the skillet upside down inside the oven and set it at 400 °F for one hour.
Step 6: Finally, let the skillet to cool inside the oven for about 30 minutes until it is cool enough to handle.
Step 7: Take off the skillet and wipe it clean with a paper towel.
You may need to repeat this procedure twice or so until the skillet is shiny and ready to use for some heavy daily cooking.
7 Tips To Maintain a Healthy Cast Iron Skillet
1. Never use olive oil or butter during seasoning or re-seasoning. Always use either vegetable oils or canola oils.
2. Cast iron skillets are naturally seasoned so don’t be afraid to use any utensils to cook your meals.
3. The performance and the quality of cast iron skillets improve over time especially if you cook with them on a daily basis.
4. Never leave your cast iron skillet wet or drown in your sink. Always clean it and dry it immediately before storing it.
5. Avoid using dishwasher and clean your skillet by hand.
6. Soaps aren’t always necessary to clean your cast iron skillet however you can use them as much as you desire as long you clean your skillet and dry it right away.
7. Avoid acidic food during cooking to maintain the coating quality. Food such as tomatoes, vinegar, wine… can reduce the life of the coating. Using or cooking a bit of those food is totally fine as long as you keep them on minimum. (Note: you can always re-season your skillet using the method described above if the coating quality decreased)
Seasoning is an important task of owning a cast iron skillet. It may seem to be a complicated procedure at the beginning, but trust me, after few tries, you’ll surely get the hang of it.
There may be several different methods to season cast iron skillets however I always recommend you to use the oven one since it’s less smokey and is long-lasting.