In the days before we had non-stick cookware, we
had the next best thing - seasoned cast iron cookware. While non-stick
cookware has certainly outdone cast iron cookware in the non-stick category,
cast iron pots and pans are still favored by many chefs, including the
professionals because of their durability and ability to retain flavor.
But, if you're not lucky enough to have a hand-me-down from Grandma, you
may find yourself confused about how to become a cast iron chef. Have
no fear - you can learn to season cast iron cookware with the pros and
keep them in great shape for years to come.
Seasoning New Cast Iron Cookware
The process is actually quite simple. When done correctly, your pans will
last a long time and may even become your own hand-me -downs in the future.
1. Heat your oven to 300 degrees.
2. Coat the pan with lard or grease. (Be sure that you do not use vegetable
oil or commercial cooking sprays. While they may seem easier, they will
not only cause your cookware to be seasoned incorrectly, but they will
also leave a sticky film on the outside of the cookware that is impossible
3. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and allow it to bake for
4. Remove the pan and pour out any excess grease or lard.
5. Put the pan back into the oven and bake for another two hours.
6. Repeat as needed
Many cast iron enthusiasts will swear upon repeating the seasoning process
several times before ever using the cookware the first time. Each time
you season the cookware, the seasoning bond becomes stronger. Many people
will recommend that the first few times the cookware is used it should
be used to cook greasy foods (bacon, fatty meats, etc.) to again strengthen
the seasoning bond. Re-seasoning Cookware
If you find that you seasoned the pan improperly the first time, or if
food starts to stick to the pan after a period of time in use, you may
want to re-season the cookware.
1. Wash the cookware thoroughly with a steel wool pad (doing this while
the pan is warm and still safe to touch is best).
2. Make sure the pan is fully dry (use a towel if needed).
3. Follow the seasoning steps above to re-season the pan. Cleaning Your
Cast Iron Cookware
To make your cookware last the test of time, be sure to take proper care
of it. Remember the creed of every enthusiast of cast iron - no soap and
no steel wool. Soap and steel wool will cause a breakdown in the seasoning
bond and should not be used to clean your cookware on a regular basis.
If you're baffled at this moment, have no fear.
Cleaning cast iron cookware is a breeze.
1. You'll need to rinse your cookware while it is still hot. If food is
stuck to it, then scrape the pan or pot as needed.
That's it! Remember not to store food in your cast iron cookware because
it may attach a metallic flavor to the food. In addition, store your pans
with the lids off to prevent moisture from accumulating and rusting from
Now that you know the ins and outs to cast iron cookware, you can start
creating your own family heirloom - as well as some great food!
About the author:
Mike Lansing is a retired chef who spent most of his time as a Head Chef
in New Orleans after training in France. He spends his free time cooking
for family and friends, as well as serving as a contributing editor for
CookingSchools101.com which offers information on Cooking Schools for
those wishing to enter the trade.