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~ How to: Season or Re-season Cast Iron Cookware~

6a0120a8551282970b017d3c76f72e970cCast iron is what I refer to as "heirloom cookware".  The cast iron skillet that was handed down to you via your mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother is just as good as the one you bought yesterday.  Many people will take it one step further and say that food cooked in properly-seasoned, well-aged vintage cast iron enhances the flavor of food even more.  I can't prove that claim, because my cast iron was not handed down to me, I bought all of it new:

Back in 2008 I was doing a celebrity chef demonstration with/for Chef John D. Folse, CEC, AAC and author of The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine (along with many other books).  On the list of cookware he required for his demonstration were quite a few different sizes of cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens.  At the time, I owned just 3 cast iron skillets.  That being said, cast iron is so gosh darn economical to buy, the decision to invest in the pieces he needed was an easy one for me to make.  Here's why:  I would never want to disappoint a celebrity chef with a hardware substitution, and, after the demonstration, I would take home a rather lovely set of cast iron cookware that I could tell everyone Chef Folse cooked in.

IMG_2272His list was long enough that I called the Lodge corporation directly to place the order.  Only about half of the pieces were available in their "Lodge-Logic" cookware line, which is cast iron that is seasoned at the factory and ready to use the moment it arrives. So, in order for me to get all of the pieces (in time for the demonstration),  I completed the list by ordering the rest from their "Lodge Original" cookware line, which requires doing the seasoning yourself after they arrive. Do I have a preference between Lodge-Logic or Lodge Original? Absolutely not.  Seasoning a cast iron pan takes a bit of time but it could not be easier.

To season cast iron cookware:

IMG_22501)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2)  Wash in hot soapy water, using a stiff nylon brush, liquid dish detergent and hot water.

3)  Thoroughly rinse and towel dry.

4)  Using a paper towel, thinly coat all of the surface area (interior and exterior) with vegetable oil (or melted vegetable shortening).

5)  Place a sheet of aluminum foil on lowest oven rack (this will collect any drips).

6)  Place cookware, upside down, on center/middle oven rack and bake for 1 hour.

7)  Turn oven off and allow the cookware to cool to room temperature in the oven.

8)  Cookware will be slightly brown (cast iron takes on its classic deep black patina only after years of use) and is now ready to use, however, I recommend, repeating this process two more times.  This extra effort will result in a surface almost guaranteed to resist all rust.

9)  Remove from oven and wipe off any excess oil with a clean, dry towel.

To remove rust spots and re-season cast iron cookware:

IMG_22461)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2)  SCRUB in hot soapy water with a stiff nylon brush, liquid detergent and hot water.

3)  Moisten a steel wool soap pad and scour any particularly nasty rust spots.

4)  Thoroughly rinse and towel dry. Carefully inspect for any specks or spots of remaining rust or residue. If you find even the smallest amount: repeat step 3.

5)  Using a paper towel, thinly coat all of the surface area (interior and exterior) with vegetable oil (or melted vegetable shortening).

6)  Place a sheet of aluminum foil on lowest oven rack (this will collect any drips).

7)  Place cookware, upside down, on center/middle oven rack and bake for 1 hour.

8)  Turn oven off and allow cookware to cool to room temperature in the oven.

9)  Remove from oven and wipe off any excess oil with a clean, dry towel.

To maintain and care for cast iron cookware:

IMG_22521)  The more you use your cast iron, the more you will naturally season it.  It is the original nonstick surface.

2)  Never use soap on cast iron after it has been seasoned.  Never put it in the dishwasher.

3)  Never put hot cast iron in cold water.  Thermal shock can warp or crack it.

4)  After each use, clean it in hot water with a stiff brush and towel dry.  Air-drying promotes rust.

5)  If you're having trouble removing stuck-on food, boil some water in it for a few minutes to loosen it.

6)  While the cookware is still warm from the hot water, wipe a light coat of vegetable oil on all of the interier and exterior surfaces.

7)  Store in a cool, dry place.  If stacking skillets, or placing lids on Dutch ovens, place a layer of paper towels between the pieces.  This prevents surfaces from scratching and promotes air circulation:

IMG_2269How to:  Season or Re-season Cast Iron Cookware:  Commentary yields instructions to properly season cast iron cookware, or, re-season rust-damaged cast iron cookware

Special Equipment List:  stiff brush; steel wool soap pad; lint-free kitchen towel; paper towel; aluminum foil

History_main_imgCook's Note:  Nestled alongside the Cumberland Plateau of the Appalacian Mountains in the town of South Pittsburg, TN, comes the finest cast iron cookware in the world.  Lodge Manufacturing began making cast iron products during the first presidential term of William McKinley. Amazingly, some of the first cast iron frying pans, teakettles and Dutch ovens made over 100 years ago are still in use.  Today, Lodge is still a family owned, family operated business producing the most extensive selection of quality cast iron goods on the market.  Check them out online at: 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


Marilyn! Thank YOU for asking the question that prompted me to write the post! ~ Mel.

Mel, thanks for following through with your promise about how to handle cleaning, seasoning, these pans!
Ya can't cook without knowing how to care for your kitchen equipment.
Oh, and give Boby Fritz a big kiss for me! So cute.....

Scotty! This is a great tip. Thank-you so much for sharing it with me and my readers. I would never have thought to use the self-cleaning oven, but it makes PERFECT sense!!! ~ Mel.

With really badly rusted cast iron, such as the stuff you pick up at garage sales or flea markets, I run the pans through the clean cycle of my oven. When cool I wash thoroughly and dry over a flame. After it cools, re-season.

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