How to Properly Season and Care for Your Cast-Iron Pans

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If you’re from Texas, the likelihood that you’ve cooked, or had a meal cooked for you, with a cast-iron skillet is high. We’ve learned over the years how to make gourmet meals in these things. Our grandparents and likely our great-grandparents have had entire sets of them, and they’ve hung in our pantries, on our kitchen walls, or have been stored in our cupboards and on our stovetops for ages. But are you aware of how best to prep them for cooking? Do you know how to season a cast-iron pan?

Known for their durability and their non-stick cooking, well before non-stick was really even a concept, these black beauties look so sturdy and shiny when we first get them. However, over time and use, they’ll eventually lose that finish and not seem so useful if we don’t care for them the way they’re meant to be. To season a cast-iron pan is to bring back its glory and useful life. It protects it from rust and makes it easier to clean, oil, and bake with. Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to do just that.

How to Season and Care for Your Cast-Iron Pans

Photo: Wikimedia/FASTILY

  1. Give the cast-iron pan a good scrub in hot, soapy water.
  2. Dry the pan well.
  3. Coat the cast-iron pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil or melted shortening and ensure that you cover its entire surface.
  4. Place foil on your lower oven rack and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Once your oven is properly heated, place the pan upside down on the middle oven rack. The foil below will catch any drips.
  6. Bake the cast-iron pan for one hour and let it cool in the oven.
How to Season and Care for Your Cast-Iron Pans

Photo: Flickr/Kim Siever

Once you’ve done the steps to properly season your cast-iron pan, here are a few tips for regular upkeep and maintenance.

  1. While the pan is still warm but cool enough for you to properly handle it, clean it under running water, using a plastic scrubber or stiff brush. For tough stains that may be baked on, kosher salt can help as a scrubbing agent. However, ensure that you never use soap.
  2. Prior to cooking anything, pour a bit of vegetable oil in the cast-iron pan and preheat it on low. Slowly increase your temperature until the desired heat is achieved.
  3. Ensure that you never marinate anything in your cast-iron pans. Mixtures with acidic ingredients will damage it, and you’ll need to re-season it if you find that rust is appearing, food is beginning to stick, or you have a metallic taste to your meals.