October is my favorite month. I love the colours, the crisp air and football! It was a busy September and I'm just settling into this blogging thing; I was going to post a recipe today but have decided to help with a common question instead: "How do I season a cast iron pan?"
I'm here to help you; it's easier than you might think. I've created two illustrations: the first is How to Season a Cast Iron Pan and the second is How to Care for a Cast Iron Pan. These were inspired by the how to videos of Katie Q and Food52 which are great resources for everything food.
Cast iron is my go-to in the kitchen. While non-stick pans have gotten better with greener treatments and are not as toxic as they once were, I've thrown away every non-stick pan I owned due to the other, more obvious reason: they just don't last very long. Cast iron pans last forever if you treat them right. They become incredibly non-stick over time; they get that way by cooking in them often and with oil-- any oil, including olive, vegetable, butter, or lard.
If you have a brand new pan, you need to season it. They usually come "pre-seasoned" but you still need to season it anyway; it will come with a waxy residue which needs to be washed with a few drops of dish soap and hot water, and then dried completely before you re-season it. (By the way, never use a metal scrubber on your pan as it can damage the cast iron. Food particles can then become trapped in the cracks and lead to rust.)
Do you have an old pan that needs some TLC? Put the pan in the oven and turn on the self-cleaning mode. It will look like moondust has formed in your pan afterwards, but just re-wash and thoroughly dry it before proceeding with the seasoning steps. If you find a cast iron piece with rust spots, you can use a combination of coarse salt, vinegar, and baking soda to buff the rust out. Rinse and go through the seasoning steps.
Cleaning and maintaining your pan is very easy. After cooking, simply wipe out the pan to clean it and apply a thin coat of oil. If you’ve got a sticky food situation, let it soak or use a wooden spoon or plastic pan scraper to scrape off the residue. You can also place the piece in an oven on the self-clean cycle until the burnt pieces and residue release (make sure you have the fan on!) Rinse with hot water and completely dry, then apply the thin coat of oil. I use melted organic veggie shortening on mine, and let the clean, oiled pan sit on top of the stove for a few hours so the oil will dry before I put it away.