Cast Iron Care and Seasoning

April 15, 2020 3 min read 0 Comments

Cast Iron Care and Seasoning

 

Cast iron is easy to maintain. Yes, you have to actually make an effort, but life is more rewarding if you work hard. The basics are these: don’t let it sit wet, clean it when you’re done with it, and, in fact, use it. I will also briefly describe the seasoning process.

Even well-seasoned cast iron cookware can rust. Rust is not good – it will ruin your pan’s seasoning and reduce its lifespan. To prevent this don’t soak your cast iron, let it drip-dry or sit wet after washing. Dry it off immediately and thoroughly. It’s preferable to leave your cast iron sitting with bits of food in it while it cools down than to leave it soaking in a sink. After letting it cool down until it’s comfortable to touch, wash your cast iron withsoap and water. Many claim the use of soap will ruin your seasoning. That’s nonsense, it won’t cause your pan any harm.

Seasoning cast iron well can be a bit of a process. It isn’t difficult by any means, but it does require some time. In my last post I noted that flaxseed oil is the best oil to use for seasoning a cast iron pan, and that’s what I recommend you use. Flaxseed oil can expire and become rancid, so check the expiration date before you start.

Sheryl Canter wrote a blog six years ago that is the most rigorous, science-based approach to seasoning a cast iron pan, and it simplycannot be outdone. I absolutely recommend you read it, but I will reproduce the steps here – you may want to do this over two days.

  1. Rub flaxseed oil all over your pan, using your hands. Coat every part –inside and out.
  2. Wipe it all off with paper towel. The pan will still have oil on it.
  3. Place in the oven (not preheated), on the middle rack, upside down. If you wish to be abundantly cautious, place a baking sheet underneath, but you shouldn’t have any drips if you wiped it down sufficiently in step 2.
  4. Turn the oven to 500F and bake for an hour. Then turn the oven off, but leave the pan in there to cool for 2 hours.
  5. Now do it all again – for six coats.

One thing not mentioned in her blog post is what to do if your cast iron is quite rough, which, if your pan is modern, it probably is. We carry Finex pans which have a smooth finish, which we prefer. Most modern makers do not polish their pans. I recommend taking a 200 grit sheet of sandpaper to the surface of of a rough pan until it becomes quite smooth. The smoother it is, the more the pores of the iron are exposed, which makes the seasoning take better. You can also do this, or use steel wool and a little vinegar, if you have to remove rust and re-season a pan.

The last, most fun way to maintain your cast iron is to use it: cooking in it, baking in it, anything that gets fat or oil on the surface of the pan at high temperatures helps maintain the seasoning on there –so make sure you actually use your cookware!

Leigh Johnson
Leigh Johnson

Leigh is a lover of cast iron and works over out our Kent of Inglewood store, Leigh considers himself a straight razor evangelist. Come listen to him proselytize any time. You can pick him out by finding the one who smells like Winston Churchill - who also wore Floris Special No. 127. When not at the shop, he's probably reading something geeky or cooking, both with a scotch in hand (neat, please).


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