What is seasoning?
When it refers to cast-iron cookware, seasoning is the layer of good stuff between your cast-iron and the food you’re cooking. Lodge Cast Iron has a good article on the science of cast-iron seasoning here:
As they mention, “When oils or fats are heated in cast iron at a high enough temperature, they change from a wet liquid into a slick, hardened surface through a process called polymerization.” Seasoning helps create a natural, non-stick surface. When there isn’t a good layer of seasoning on our cast-iron, it corrodes and rusts. My cast-iron skillet spent 6 months residing in a shipping container from Dubai to Chicago and it ended up looking like this:
Who knows how many different changes in climate it went through on the journey and in storage. But all was not lost, because cast-iron can be re-seasoned to bring it back to life. Because I needed to re-season my pan, I first washed it very well using a mild detergent and baking soda in order to take care of the grime and rust. If you are seasoning a pan for the first time, you don’t need to use baking soda like I did.
Here’s the rest of how you can season and re-season your pan:
- Heat the oven to 350-450 degrees Fahrenheit. (You’ll find varying temps all over the web when you search. Sometimes the higher temperature comes with directions for a shorter time, so I decided to do the lower temp for longer option)
- Coat the inside and handle of the pan with a thin, even layer of tallow. A soft cotton cloth makes a good applicator. Turn over and place on a cookie sheet to do the same thing on the bottom of the pan and handle, applying tallow all over. If you have a lid, you can do at the same time.
- Place in the oven on the cookie sheet face down and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and place on a metal cooling rack. After the pan’s cooled to “warm,” buff the inside with a clean soft cloth.
- It’s good to season your pan a few times, even if it come “pre-seasoned”. As Lodge Cast Iron even mentions in the above article, the seasoning fills in the rough surface of your cast-iron making it smoother and more non-stick.
If you are a visual learner- we have a video you can see as a part of our Facebook Group, Cast Iron Journey 2021, here:
Join along and contribute- we would love to hear from you this year about your cast-iron and recipes you love!
And check out our Kitchen Tallow for seasoning your cast-iron in our shop! You’ll like the results: