Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seasoning New Cast Iron

My brand new set of cast iron cookware arrived yesterday. I set aside today to season it. Even though Lodge sends its cookware out "preseasoned" it's not a true seasoning. It's just a food-grade wax that they apply in order to keep the utensil from rusting. When you get it, you really need to take the time to do a really good first seasoning on it.

Since I got my cookware from Lodge, I followed their instructions, except when it came to the type of oil to use. Lodge says to use vegetable oil or spray but I wanted to use an animal fat because it doesn't create a sticky surface like vegetable oil will. I used my own homemade schmaltz which I keep in the fridge for browning meats. Lard works great too.

If you've never seasoned cast iron before, prepare for the smoke that will roll out of your oven at the start of the process. Open your windows and get your exhaust fans set on high. It's gonna stink!

There are as many opinions about how to season and care for cast iron as there are pans (some people use mild soap to clean, others don't). The important thing is to experiment and then develop a system that works for you and stick to it. Don't let someone else pursuade you into changing your method. Also, don't ever let anyone else clean your pans for you!

Here are Lodge's instructions for seasoning their pre-seasoned cast iron cookware:

"While maintaining the seasoning should keep your Cast Iron in good condition, at some point you may need to repeat the seasoning process. If food sticks to the surface, or you notice a dull, gray color, repeat the seasoning process:"

  • Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. (It is okay to use soap this time because you are preparing to re-season the cookware).

  • Rinse and dry completely.

  • Apply a thin, even coating of MELTED solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware (inside and out).

  • Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any dripping.

  • Set oven temperature to 350 – 400 degrees F.

  • Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven.

  • Bake the cookware for at least one hour. After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.

  • Store the cookware uncovered, in a dry place when cooled.

I bought a 12" skillet, a 20" x 11" grill and an 8 quart camp oven, in case you were curious. There will be more cast iron related entries in the near future!


  1. My mom told me that they used to hang the pots and pans over a hot fire, either in the fire place or when they burned leaves in the fall - to get rid of cooked on residue. Then they would season them the rest of the way, like you mentioned.

  2. Would you believe I've been a country girl and never seasoned cast iron!!!! I have some but never knew how never used them! DUH for me! Okay now I'm gonna season mine and use them like I should be!

  3. I sure enjoy my cast-iron ware. I know you will find many wonderful uses for it.
    Also, if your seasoned cast iron pan needs a little touch-up, try cooking a pound of bacon in it or using it for popcorn. It works very well.

  4. Last time I seasoned a pan, the alarms were going off and my husband was hollering, what have you done???!!! I do love cast iron though. Seems to cook more evenly. Plus you actually get iron from it. That is what my mother in law says anyway, haha.

  5. I can't begin to imagine how much the box weighed that the pans arrived in! Your delivery guy/gal must hate you! LOL

    Looks like a good job, Amy! I expect to see a huge platter of fried chicken soon!

  6. Amy, I love my cast iron cookware and use to have a full set but foolishy gave most of it away when I had a glass cooktop. I mistakenly thought I couldn't use it! Now I'm back to a gas oven and wishing I had all my pans! I do have an old dutch oven that belonged to my great grandmother. I will never part with that!


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