Proper Seasoning of Cast Iron Cookware

Manufacturers usually treat traditional cast iron cookware in some form to prevent rust from occurring during a shipment. Generally, they use food oil, which is simple to wash off. The coating from the manufacturer must be removed before you proceed with seasoning your cookware. Traditional cast irons contain pores that if not properly seasoned could cause your food to stick to your pan. Improper care also promotes rust occurring on your cookware as well. However, with the proper maintenance of your cookware, it can last for generations.

Below are instructions to properly season or treatment your new cast iron cookware:

1. Wash your cookware with warm soapy water and use a Brillo pad or steel wool to scrub the cookware well. This will help to loosen and release the prior treatment used by manufacturers or any residing rust.

2. Rinse your cookware thoroughly to ensure that the particles that you have scrubbed off are no longer present.

3. Thoroughly dry your pan or pot to ensure that there is no moisture left. It may help to heat it on the stove top for 5 – 10 minutes.

4. Lightly coat the inside and outside of your cookware with a congealed oil such as a vegetable oil, shortening, or lard. (This aids to fill-in and coat the pores of your cookware. Note: Butter and margarine should not be used in this process.) Be sure to coat the handle and lid, if applicable.

5. Place the cookware in the oven, upside down, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. (Layer the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil to catch any oil drippings. Note: Turning the cookware upside down will aid in the prevention of gummy oil buildup. Another way to prevent gummy oil buildup is to wipe away excess oil after 15 minutes in the oven.) The heat helps to lock in the oils and create a smooth, non-stick surface.

6. Let the cookware cool to room temperature.

7. Repeat steps 4 – 6, three times.

Other considerations for the care and maintenance of your cast iron cookware include the following:

1. When using and electric range, pre-heat cast iron cookware slowly on medium to medium-low heat.

2. When at high temperatures, do not place cold water in your cookware. This will cause instant cracking.

3. Limit cooking with acidic foods (e.g. tomatoes, vinegar) as this breaks down the seasoning.

4. Do not keep leftover food in the cast irons for too long. The acid in the food could begin to breakdown the seasoning. You can prevent this from happening by transferring leftover food into a glass or plastic container prior to refrigeration.

5. Do not boil water in your cast irons.

6. Do not store your pans and pots with a lid on top. Keeping the lid on could promote moisture, which could lead to rusting.

7. Do not use dishwashing soap to clean your cast iron cookware day-to-day. This will open pores and over time make it susceptible to retain bacteria from food. Simply wipe and rinse your cookware under warm water. However, if you do decide to use dishwashing soap, it is necessary that you season your cast iron cookware in the oven as described above. However, do not let your cookware soak in soapy water or expose it to water for any length of time.

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