In this guide, we would discuss all you need to know about the seasoning of cast iron pans. Cast iron pans do need to be well taken care of. It increases their lifespan. If you’re interested in knowing how to season your cast iron pans, then you should read through this guide
A type of cookware constructed of a soft, heavy metal material known as Cast Iron, which is an excellent material for cooking foods. Cast Iron absorbs heat well, retaining the warmth and distributing it evenly across the length and width of the cookware.
The material slowly absorbs the heat and slowly releases it, thus making it a good choice for slow cooking ingredients. Cast Iron may be treated with a coating by the manufacturer, such as porcelain enamel or it may be produced uncoated. Uncoated Cast Iron requires a seasoning with oil before use to create a non-stick surface, while coated Cast Iron most often requires no seasoning.
Cast Iron Cookware has been used by various civilizations for many centuries. So, what are the major factors which lead to its popularity for so long? If we look deep enough, we can find the obvious answers. Cast iron has proven itself over and over again as a reliable, versatile, and durable cookware option.
Cast Iron Cookware has numerous benefits. Some are as follows:
Cast Iron Cookware is versatile in itself. With every piece of Cast Iron Cookware, you can fry, stir fry, sauté, sear, simmer, and bake and even can be used as serving ware. Cast Iron Cookwares can be used on almost any heat source, including stovetop, BBQ grill, in the oven, under the broiler, and over a campfire.
Thus we can minimize the number of pots and pans in the kitchen, just cast iron is a must for that. This versatility makes Cast Iron Cookware a wonderful addition to any home or hotel kitchen and an absolute must for outdoor cooking.
- NATURAL NON STICK SURFACE
A proper naturally chemical-free seasoned Cast Iron Cookware gives you a non-stick surface as a synthetic coating and an additional advantage is its total chemical free. So now you don’t have to depend on harmful chemicals or loads of oil in the pan for cooking.
With very little oil you can cook and eat crispier, healthier, and far tastier food. Cooking with Cast Iron Pan is a bit different. You first heat the pan on high heat and then add oil and spread it around by moving the pan. A thin layer of oil all over the cooking surface is all you need to cook the food evenly without burning it.
- DURABILITY AND LONGEVITY
Cast iron is extremely durable. It will last a lifetime if treated correctly — and in some cases, even longer than that. In some families, Cast Iron Cookware is passed down from one generation to the next as a functional family heirloom.
The reason cast iron lasts so long is that iron itself is a very tough material. On top of that, cast iron is one of the few types of cookware that actually improves over time. Instead of wearing down, cast iron builds up a seasoning over the years that make your cooking experience easier and easier. You won’t find that from any of your aluminum pots and pans.
- EASE OF MAINTAINANCE
It’s a myth that cast iron maintenance is very difficult. Cast iron maintenance is quite easy and it’s one of the benefits among others. A well seasoned Cast Iron Pan doesn’t need seasoning with every use. Just a hand wash with mild soap, soft scrubber and water are sufficient, and after that, a very thin coat of any edible oil will add few more years to its life.
Though rust is not possible in seasoned cast iron, still if some rust is there, it will be on the outside only. In that case, only dip in hot soapy water for an hour and rub it with any hard scrubber. Cast Iron never gets rusted inside. Now dry it in the oven or on the stovetop. While it’s warm, carefully coat with any edible oil and leave on stovetop medium to low flame for an hour and it will be ready for use.
- HIGH HEAT TOLERANCE
On high heat Cast Iron is best. Nothing does high heat cooking better than Cast Iron. Heavy cast iron has a very high heat tolerance capacity. Initially, it takes some time to heat to a given temperature, but once heat proper, it stays heat for a longer period and gives equal heat to the food in every corner of the pan.
That’s why it’s best for searing food. The cast iron can hold up to higher heat without warping, and it will maintain a steady temperature for a longer time than any other material.
The Science of Seasoning
When fat or cooking oil is heated for a long enough time in cast iron, its fatty acids oxidize and reorganize together (or “polymerize”) into a new plastic-like layer of molecules.
Seasoning (process heating oil past smoke point to form a layer of polymerization) makes the cast iron, which is usually silvery to dull grey the luscious black color that we all know and love.
This layer becomes trapped within the pitted surface of the pan and bonds to the metal itself, creating the slick coating known as seasoning.
Repeated exposure to hot oil continues to build on this coating, making it more slippery and durable. That’s why even though most skillets these days come with a factory seasoning, the surface will become even more nonstick with repeated use.
Proud owners of bare cast iron may put a layer of seasoning on the cookware to protect the iron from rust and deterioration. This seasoning also has non-stick properties making cleaning much easier.
Since the innovation of pre-seasoned ironware by the Lodge Manufacturing Company most cast iron on the market, today comes pre-seasoned. This is wonderful for customers, it allows new owners to be able to use their cookware straight away without the hassle and time required to season new cast iron.
If you are looking for a new piece of cookware I highly recommend cast iron, primarily because it’s the most fun to cook with. However, with all cookware, it’s not perfect. Let’s look at the pros and cons of bare cast iron.
What Does “Well-Seasoned” Mean?
A well-seasoned skillet will have a dark, semi-glossy finish and won’t be sticky or greasy to the touch. It won’t have any rust or dull or dry patches. An easy way to test a skillet’s seasoning is to fry an egg (heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes, then add egg). If your pan is well-seasoned, you should not experience any major sticking.
Use the Right Oil
The more unsaturated the oil, the more readily it will oxidize and polymerize. We have found that flaxseed oil, which oxidizes and polymerizes faster than other vegetable oils, forms a particularly durable seasoning. But cheaper oils such as sunflower and soybean are also highly unsaturated and work fine.
Seasoning Cast Iron in the Oven
Seasoning a pan—as a verb—adds a thicker, more thorough coat of seasoning all over the entire pan, all at once. It’s a way to kickstart the seasoning process and build a base layer that will grow stronger every time you cook with your pan.
Some cast-iron owners do this for every new piece of cookware they get, and then repeat the process every few months or years; others never bother, opting for a slow and steady “keep cooking” policy. Field Skillets are well-suited for either method. Our preferred method: cook with your skillet often, and apply Field Seasoning Oil after every use.
After testing every technique out there, we’ve developed an approach based on gradually boosting the temperature of the pan to bake the seasoning into the surface, not just on top of it. Your ideal seasoning temperature is just below the smoke point of your oil, the point where it breaks down into carbon and short-chain polymers that can bond with iron.
Below that point for too short a time, and the oil won’t fully polymerize; above that point for too long, and the oil runs the risk of skipping past the polymer stage and straight into completely burnt carbon.
How to Care for Cast Iron
- To rid of rust stains, rub this handy rust eraser on the stain, and then reseason pan. Find it at hardware stores, bike shops, or wood-working shops.
- To clean, use a stiff brush or plastic scrubber under running water while the cast iron is still warm but cool enough to handle with ease. Kosher salt is also a good scrubbing agent for baked-on stains. The most important tip is to never use soap!
- Before cooking, apply vegetable oil to the cooking surface, and preheat the pan on low heat, increasing the temperature slowly.
- Never marinate in cast iron. Acidic mixtures will damage the seasoning. Reseason if food particles start to stick, rust appears, or you experience a metallic taste.
Cast Iron pans are one the best cookware to make food of various cuisines. Any individual who loves cooking would know how satisfying it is to use a cast iron pan for cooking. This pan can be used to make various dishes like Eggs, crepes, and much more. Using a cast iron pan as a part of daily cooking is very reliable and good for health.