Now that we have our cast iron clean and ready (if not, first check out the post before this one), let’s learn to properly season cast iron cookware!
Again, as I said last time, there are many ways to do this and this is only the one that fit me best. If you have one that works well for you, I’d love to hear of it in the comments.
I wanted to season these two cast iron pieces. The first is a Wagner #7, these old skillets have a nice and smooth finish. This makes it nicer to cook with and also tends to make them lighter. The second is a Griswold crispy corn stick pan #273. I found this little guy in the ground looking all sad and rusted. So I did what any self respecting, recovering, hoarder would do, picked it up for later project. But, I digress…
Properly season cast iron:
Turn your oven to 200 degrees.
Place the cast iron upside down while the oven is still cold and allow the “pores” to open for about 30 minutes.
This, it is said, will allow the cast iron to absorb the seasoning better and also give it a nice and shiny black layer. Also make sure it is bone dry before putting it in the oven.
Remove cast iron and apply a good layer of Flax seed oil, then wipe it ALL off with something that will not leave lint, etc.
It will look like there is no oil left, that’s what you want. If not… see pictures and warning below.
There are many people that swear by Crisco, bacon fat and others. I’ve been using Flax seed oil because of it’s low smoke point which allows it to polymerize (careful clicking this one, it’ll leave your head spinning) when heated past 225 F.
Warning! If the oil is left on too thickly it can form a sticky seasoning layer. Worst even is what happened to me, I continued to season it with thicker layers than I should have and even though it looked good in the end, I ended up with the seasoning flaking off. Do it right once and it will serve you well.
This leads me to yet another method of removing light rust/seasoning. Add oil and warm water to your cast iron and scrub with a steel wool. If it’s small enough of a problem, it will likely come off…
Place the cast iron back in the oven, upside down, and turn it to 500 degrees. Once it reaches 500 keep it there for 1.5 hours then turn off the oven. Let it sit until it’s cool again.
Maybe after a bit in the oven, say 15 minutes, you could take it out again and wipe for good measure? This might have avoided the problem I had the first time. Or you could just wipe it well the in the first place.
Well, that’s it. You provably want to repeat the process a good 4 times. After this you should have a delightful non stick cast iron pot or skillet.
[Edit] It’s been brought to my attention that Flax seed oil can flake after some use, I’ve been using my skillet for several months now and no problems yet. However I will update with more seasoning methods soon and might even recant my love for Flax seed oil….
[Edit] Actually, I will stand by my word. It has been working great for several months and now I see more than ever the very divisive world of cast iron usage and maintenance. Don’t be taken back by this. Try it out, you won’t regret it… I hope :)