Even though we live in a world of TeflonÃ¢Â?Â¢ convenience, you’ve never tasted food unless it was cooked in a cast iron skillet. My mother and my grandmother both used cast iron skillets for frying, browning, simmering and even baking. One thing about using an iron skillet is that it needs some special care to keep it in its best condition. This is how to properly season your cast iron skillet:
For some reason, a cast iron skillet imparts an old-fashioned goodness to everything you cook and bake. Fried fish, cornbread and Pineapple Upside Down Cake, for example, taste best when they’re cooked in this type of vessel.
But, you have to properly season your cast iron skillet, or the vessel can rust and become discolored. Your food can taste kind of funky too, especially if you cook with acidic foods like tomatoes or vinegar.
Seasoning is a process that’s relatively easy to do. You’ll need to repeat it after you use and wash your cast iron skillet five or six times. Unless you use a dishwashing detergent that contains a degreasing agent, that is. In that case, you’ll need to properly season your vessel more often.
In between seasonings, you can simply wipe the inside of the vessel with a little vegetable oil and a paper towel before you put it away. Make sure you coat the entire inside with the oil.
What seasoning does is apply a protective coating of cooking oil to the metal. The oil keeps the cast iron from rusting. It also seals the metal so it doesn’t absorb food odors and tastes.
The first step to properly season your cast iron skillet is to preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, wash the vessel well in warm, sudsy water. Make sure to remove any food, rust and any other foreign substances that may be on the inside surface. Then, rinse the cast iron skillet thoroughly with tap water, and dry it well with a dish towel.
Next, use a paper towel to apply a liberal coating of vegetable oil to the inside of the cast iron skillet. Place it in your oven and set the timer for 90 minutes.
When the timer dings, carefully remove the hot vessel from your oven and allow it to cool. Use another paper towel to wipe out any excess vegetable oil from the inside skillet. Your cast iron skillet is now properly seasoned and ready to use. It won’t have a completely non-stick surface like TeflonÃ¢Â?Â¢, but foods will be less prone to stick.
To take care of your cast iron skillet, you should never place it in, or run cold water over it when it’s hot. The iron can warp. Also, to help keep it from rusting, don’t place your iron skillet in the dishwasher either.
And, never store leftover foods or baked goods in your iron vessel or they can get a metallic taste to them.
If you properly season your cast iron skillet from time to time and take care of it, it will last for generations to come!