How to take care of (season) your cast iron skillet

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If I could only have one cooking device in my kitchen I would choose my cast iron skillet.  Provided it is constructed of solid cast iron it holds heat very well which is great for searing up a steak and with a little care can be the perfect tool to fry up some eggs without sticking.

Seasoning your cast iron skillet

When you buy your cast iron skillet it most likely will be labeled as “Pre-Seasoned” but the more times you treat your cast iron skillet pan the better it will work for you.

Seasoning your cast iron skillet is a simple process, simply use the oil of your choice.  Vegetable oil/shortening is the classic application but prefer oils that generate less oxidation and are not as high in omega-6 fats so my go to oil is bacon grease or coconut oil.  Apply about 1/2 teaspoon to a slightly warm skillet and spread a thin layer over the entire surface of your skillet.

Place the skillet in a cold oven and set at temperature to 275F and “bake’ for one hour.  Turn off the oven, leave the door closed and let the oven and pan cool completely.

You now have a seasoned cast iron skillet, if you have a brand new skillet I would repeat this process after the first few uses or if you use the skillet for any cooking or cleaning that contains a good amount of water.

Cleaning your cast iron skillet

In order to keep that nice smooth non-stick surface some care is required in the cleaning of your skillet.  If you are cooking up an omelet you most likely will not need more than a quick wipe down with and cloth or paper towel.  If there you skillet still remains dirty use a tablespoon of kosher salt as a mild abrasive to dislodge any stubborn material stuck to your skillet. 

As a last resort you can also apply a little water (no soap) and use a soft brush to get any additional material off, but you should re-season your skillet using the method above.

Keeping a non-stick surface on your skillet

After each use apply a 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite oil after you have cleaned (see above) your skillet while it is still warm using a paper towel.  Keep pan on warm element until it cools completely then store as usual.

I also will do mini seasoning, if I do any cooking/baking after I am done I place the skillet in the warm oven and let it “bake” it while it cools.  This technique helps keep a nice non-stick surface without even using any additional electricity.

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