Cooking in Cast Iron Part One: Seasoning

Big, heavy black pans, filled with bacon or eggs or corn bread.  Doesn’t that sound rustic and heavenly?

I have wanted to use cast iron for a long time and I finally got the opportunity two weeks ago when my family went camping.  Thank to my mom-in-law (she purchased me three different pans for Christmas) I was able to jump in feet first to this fun, old-fashioned way of cooking.

Seasoned or not seasoned?

New, unseasoned, out of the box

Do you know what that means?  I didn’t.  I had no idea, until I started to learn about what it means to have a “seasoned” pan.  As my children have serious food allergies (soy, peanut, egg and legume), I am militant about new foods and whatever they eat on, off of of etc. So I had to find out more about this “seasoning.”

Good seasoning of cast iron is essential. If you’re lucky – and probably most of you can do this – you will purchase a pre-seasoned pan.  Your job is done, cook away! Pans will be black in color.  The pan will have already been treated with vegetable oil so that the iron is sealed and not prone to oxidization (rust).

But if your family is like our family, you will have to scour the Internet for the rare UNseasoned pan so that you can season it yourself  (my children’s soy allergies extends to vegetable oil.) 

We seasoned ours with olive oil. 

Seasoning Your Pan for the First Time

Once you get the pan, block out a few hours to season properly. Per pan. Yes it takes that long – you don’t want to hurry the process.

Turn your oven up to 450 degrees.  Place the newly unseasoned pan in the oven.

A waxy coating will now take about 25 minutes to melt off.  Remove carefully from the oven and wipe down with a paper towel.

Now you’re ready to oil the pan.  Put a good size amount on the pan and using a towel or paper towel cover the entire pan, including the handle and the under side.  Again be careful not to burn yourself.

Place in oven for about 40 minutes.  Pan should be blackened.

One initial coating is sufficient, but you can do this several times depending on how seasoned you want it to be.

Further Care

When you go to cook in your cast iron the first time you will be amazed at how evenly it cooks!  When you are done with it, take it to the sink, rinse it in warm water WITH NO SOAP and DO NOT USE a scratchy sponge.  A towel or your hand will do. Caution: Using soap removes the seasoning – a no-no!

I hope you try this old-fashioned way of cooking! It has been a joyful surprise to me!

Next time: cooking in your cast iron!

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