Seasoning and Maintaining your Cast Iron
Using and maintaining cast iron cookware can be very different from using other types of cookware, Like any tool, it needs to be taken care of and treated properly for it to work best. With proper technique, the performance, versatility and longevity of your cast iron are worth the extra effort. We put together this guide to help you get the most out of your cast iron.
All cast iron pans are unique. With various thicknesses and surface finishes, our skillets (and vintage skillets) are going to clean up differently than modern sand cast (inexpensive) skillets.
General cooking tips
- Always pre-heat your skillet. Pre-heating your skillet greatly improves the skillet’s ability to be non-stick. Cast iron takes a little longer than other types of cookware to hear up. With a little practice you will know exactly when your skillet is the right temperature.
Cooking with a little oil makes cleanup a lot easier. We like to use a cold pressed coconut oil. Try to avoid Olive oil when cooking at high temperatures – it can turn into a gooey mess on the cookware.
Try to avoid food becoming stuck when cooking at very high temps – This is generally the cause of most cleaning and maintenance issues.
Cleaning and storing your skillet
Everyone has a different idea of how clean their skillet should look when they put it away. Some people want a perfectly polished surface with a fresh coat of oil, others are ok leaving some remnants of the last meal. This is totally up to you. Keeping a tidy skillet will generally make it more non-stick and suitable for delicate foods like eggs.
Don’t rinse with water until your skillet is cool enough to touch. After some trial and error, we found that trying to clean the skillet when it is extremely hot can compromise the seasoning, making the skillet stickier.
Cleaning the skillet when it is still warm with HOT water works the best.
Use the utensil you used for cooking to scrape the skillet while running under the hot water. Most of the time, this should be the extent of the cleanup.
If food is really stuck on, try scraping very hard with a metal spatula. If necessary, try boiling a small amount of water in the skillet and then scraping with the spatula.
It is generally best to avoid using an abrasive pad, but sometimes this may be necessary. If you are going to this level it may be necessary to bake on another layer of oil.
Seasoning – Baking on Oil
Our cast iron skillets come with 4 coats of baked on oil, so they are ready to use right away. Nearly all other skillets will need to have a few coats of oil baked on before they can perform optimally. Depending on how you use your skillets, baking on another layer of oil may be necessary. If the surface of the skillet starts to look really dull with no sheen and food seems to be sticking a little more, it may be time to bake on another coat.
- Before you season your skillet make sure it is very clean! You don’t want to bake on anything under the seasoning.
- Choose your oil! – There’s lots of options and opinions on what to use. To keep it simple we recommend Flax seed oil or vegetable oil. If you use Flax, MAKE SURE to get filtered oil – you don’t want to deal with those seed parts in your finish.
- Start by pouring a half-dollar size spot of oil in the middle of the skillet. The oil seems to be easier to apply if the skillet is warm but preheating is not necessary. Wipe down every surface of the skillet with the oil.
- Grab a new paper towel or lint free rag (old t-shirts are great!) and completely wipe off all the oil you just wiped on. This is how thin you want the coat to be. Every beginner will have a strong tendency to leave too much oil on the skillet – try your hardest to avoid this! Also make sure there isn’t oil stuck in the lettering graphics of the skillet.
- Now your completely wiped clean skillet is ready to go in the oven. Don’t worry about face down or up. If you have to worry about dripping, you put way too much oil on. Turn the oven on to about 425 degrees and bake for about an hour. If it still looks to have wet oil on it, turn the heat up a little and give it some more time.
- One coat is usually enough for re-seasoning. If you bought a new skillet that wasn’t fully seasoned you may want to repeat these steps 3 more times.