BRINGING HOME YOUR NEW CAST IRON COOKWARE
So you bring home your new cast iron cookware set and wonder what to do first. A cast iron pan is an awesome cooking vessel, but you do need to care for it properly. Although many companies, like Lodge, sell their pans as “pre-seasoned”, it is still important that you season them yourself before you use them for the first time. Follow the below steps to Prepare Your New Cast Iron Cookware for first use.
OUT OF THE BOX
As soon as you take it out of the box, wash it with a gentle soap and hot water. This will remove any loose dirt and dust from the packaging. You do not want to seal in the impurities when you perform your first seasoning. Do not scour it. Simply wash it with a mild non-detergent soap, and use a sponge or dishcloth. Dry your pan completely. I prefer to use a lint-free kitchen towel in order to avoid redepositing lint onto the pan. Do this with each cast iron piece in your new set.
WHAT IS SEASONING, ANYWAY?
Now that you have all of your cast iron pans cleaned and dried, you are ready to season them. Seasoning them is a term that sounds more complicated than it really is. It is really very simple. This merely means that you are going to add the first coat of many, thin coats of polymerized oil. You need to do the first one manually, and the rest will follow naturally, as you use them. These thin coats of oil become polymerized by heating the pan. As you cook, you will add repeated coats of oil to your hot pan.
FIRST SEASONING IS EASY AS 1, 2, 3. . .
- Choose your oil. Unsaturated fats work best. The basic requirement of unsaturated fat is that it is a liquid at room temperature. If you want to know more about the science behind “unsaturated”, you can read more about it here. I use a basic vegetable oil for mine, and it works very nicely.
- Warm your pan in the oven to about 200° and rub the pan down with your chosen oil. It is easiest to use a paper towel and rub it in well. Massage it into all the nooks and crannies, then use a clean paper towel to remove any excess. You do NOT want any excess oil left on the pan. You do not have to see the oil that remains on the pan. If you rubbed it in really well, it is there. Just trust it.
- The last step is to place it in your cold oven and heat it to 450°. Once your oven and pan come to temperature, let it cook for about half an hour, then turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Leave it like this until it cools enough to handle and you are done.
COOKING WITH YOUR NEWLY SEASONED PAN
Now that your pan is prepared for cooking, you can enjoy the benefits of using cast iron in your kitchen. You should not need to season it again, unless you have a mishap, like burning something while cooking. If this happens, simply go back and follow the steps, as if you just took your cookware out of the box. When you use your cast iron for cooking, it is easy to clean on an everyday basis. All you need to do is scrape out any food debris and wipe the cooking surface with an oiled paper towel (I sometimes use a coffee filter). If you do accidentally burn something, just a little, and need a little more cleaning, you can easily remedy that without having to season it again. I like to use either salt or used coffee grounds. To do this, dump the salt or grounds into the pan, add a tablespoon or two of oil and rub with a paper towel until the surface of the pan feels smooth. Then give it a quick rinse with plain, hot water and dry with a clean towel (paper towel or lint-free towel)
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