Friday, December 28, 2007

Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet

I was recently cooking with my cast iron skillet -- my workhorse in the kitchen -- and realized that much of the "seasoning" was gone (that's the non-stick finish that comes from oils). So I decided to get it back into good working condition by seasoning it. I have had this 12" cast iron skillet since I was married, some 26 years ago and it's never been replaced. I did buy another smaller size that has also been a true-blue kitchen friend.

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet
~taken from Hearty Home Cookin' by the Homemaker's Heritage Exention Club
Ridgeway, Montana (I received this as a wedding gift)

Wash with soap and water, rinse and dry. Then rub generous coating of suet over entire untensil (inside and out). (Suet is available at any meat market, usually without charge, if you don't have your own.) Place in 425' oven for 15 minutes. Apply second coat inside; return to oven for another 15 minutes. Apply a third coat inside and heat 15 minutes. Just smear it on real heavy and don't worry about it as it will smooth out by itself. If more coats are wanted, repeat the procedure.

After apply final coat, bake for 2 more hours. Turn off oven and leave pan in oven to cool gradually. Do not put lid on Dutch oven while treating as it will seal and you will need a crowbar to pry it open. That's all there is to it. No rust and no wiping and oiling. First coat may be spotty and have bare spots. Don't worry, just apply second and third coats and it will turn out. ~Mrs. Major
My Additions:
Seasoning at this high heat really can be smelly. Make sure you are able to open the windows and ventilate your kitchen while doing this. You may also season cast iron at lower heats. For that last 2 hours mentioned in the instructions above, I would turn my oven down to 350' or so. Remember to allow the pans to cool down slowly in the oven.

Before you say, "What is suet?" I'll tell you. It's basically pork fat. You could use the trimmings off any pork cut for this. I don't always have suet available, but you can use just about any neutral oil for seasoning. I prefer lard (which contains suet) but you can use Crisco or food grade coconut oil or just about any oil you like. I like to keep my skillet tipped upright in the oven for the first one or two coatings, and then tip it upside down so that the extra oil drips out. Be sure to put a piece of foil underneath it to catch any drippings. This process of seasoning will give your cast iron pots and pans a non-stick finish that you will love appreciate. If the seasoning wears off, you can re-season again.

After you cook with your cast iron, always wash with dish soap and water and then promptly dry it by putting it on the stove on low heat until all the moisture is evaporated out of the pan. To keep the finish non-stick, you may then add a little oil to the pan and allow it to remain on the stove another minute or two. Don't run off and leave it though, keep watch over it. Many times I've set my cast iron skillet on the stove to dry and left it for another urgent errand and soon wondered what that smoky smell was coming from the kitchen -- the forgotten skillet!

Did you know?
Did you know that cooking with cast iron will increase the iron content of the food that is cooked in it? When you cook foods that are especially high in acid, like tomatoes or apples, the iron content of the food jumps dramatically. Other foods will also pick up additional iron which is all "good for you."

For more information on cooking with cast iron, you'll enjoy this link. You will even find an article that lists the 20 foods tested for additional iron content after cooking them in cast iron. This study was done by the Journal of American Dietetic Assoc.


  1. I need to re-season my cast iron skillets again so your post is a handy reminder I really appreciate.

    One time when my iron was found to be low on a blood test, my doctor told me to use my cast iron skillets more often. It did indeed work.

  2. Okay I am wierd about cast iron, I cn tast it in the food and do not like it :{ xoxoxo CLarice

  3. Thanks for this information.
    I must try it some day.

  4. I love my cast iron too. My husband is also quite the outdoor cast iron dutch oven cook. He takes care of his own pots and I take care of mine though!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. I recently picked up a small cast iron skillet to give it a try; but had no idea how to season it. I prefer learning from those who have done it themselves.
    Happy New Year. Karen B.

  6. I am so glad you stopped in at the whistlestop cafe... it is to easy to get lost in this blogging world!
    I love your post on your iron skillet... I may have to hang onto it.
    come visit again, thanks =D


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