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unacornea's avatar

how do i season my cast iron pan?

Asked by unacornea (314points) November 24th, 2007

i’ve had this pan for years, i think it used to have more of a coating but lately it’s looked really bare. i don’t wash it with dish soap. i know you’re supposed to coat it with olive oil and put it over heat for a while to let it build up its seasoning, but it doesn’t seem to be working. and when i cooked an omelette in it the other day it left this gross black residue all over the bottom of the omelette. any advice?

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5 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Not sure about the residue (maybe due to the olive oil which generally has a lower smoke point), but the best way to season a cast iron pan is to heat the pan over the stove and rub cooking oil “into” it using a paper towel. Heating the pan spreads the iron molecules and when you rub the oil in, it fills in the gaps.

The other method (baking) is described here. They recommend shortening or vegetable oil.

gooch's avatar

that is right. But if you have black gunk on it burn it off first. When it gets buildup burn the pot outside and then reseason

gailcalled's avatar

As Kevbo has so nicely done the research from Lodge, the premiere cast iron manufacturer, you can check. But I think that you should use another oil rather than olive for seasoning. I LOVE my 10” Lodge pain…more precious than rubies.

christybird's avatar

I had a chef boyfriend once who was a bit of a cast-iron Nazi (he actually yelped once when he caught me scraping his cast iron pan with a metal spatula) but he taught me well. I will pass along what I’ve learned.

I always season with coconut oil. It works marvelously. I’m sure other oils would work pretty well too – olive seems ok. Shortening is icky and not real food, I wouldn’t use that. I do it in the oven rather than over the stovetop – rub the oil both within and without, and put a piece of aluminum foil underneath to catch the drips. Try 300 degrees for about 2–3 hours. It WILL make your kitchen smell weird!

After you’ve done this – baby it at first. It will take a while to build up a perfect “season.” If you cook acidic stuff in it it’ll ruin the season. So, no tomato sauce! (Plus acidic food can absorb really high levels of dietary iron from the pan, making your food taste like metal.) Cook with lots of butter/oil in a newly-seasoned pan, and rinse out with hot water and a soft sponge/cloth. You already know not to use soap, but try not to use a really abrasive cleaner either if you can help it (i.e. don’t scrape it with a metal spatula, ahem). Rub it with oil immediately after washing.

If you treat your cast iron with love and affection, it will be easy to clean, heat as evenly as a dream, and be a great source of dietary iron for years to come…

unacornea's avatar

thank you!!! this has been very helpful. i think that cooking acidic food was part of what caused the black residue, because i had just been cooking spaghetti sauce. i’ve been trying what kevbo recommended, rubbing the oil into the pan. but now i’m going to try the baking/coconut oil method.

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