One of the most beloved items in many kitchens is the cast iron skillet. These cherished pieces of cookware are often passed down through generations and evoke memories of home-cooked family meals. If you’ve been given a neglected cast iron, purchased one from an antique shop and want to give it new life, or bought a brand new one, you’ll need to properly season it before use.
When people talk about a cast iron skillet having “seasoning,” they’re referring to the coating created after repeatedly using the skillet to cook with oils and fats. This seasoned coating serves two purposes: It protects the iron from rusting and it creates a stick-resistant surface that makes cooking and cleanup a cinch. The coating also gets better with each cooking session. Here’s how to get your cast iron up to snuff as a vital workhorse in your kitchen.
If your cast iron has started to rust, never fear! It can be saved with a little extra scouring on the rusty spots and the above steps. When this process is complete, you’ll have a seasoned cast iron ready to serve you for years to come.
After each time you use it, add enough water to coat the bottom of the skillet and bring it to a boil. You can use an old dish brush to knock the residual food and crumbs free, rinse the pan, add some oil and turn the burner back on just for a moment. Spread the oil around with a paper towel to make sure the entire surface of the skillet is coated. Turn the burner back off and leave the cast iron to cool before storing.
With a little care and scrubbing, you can turn a rusty antique store find into a treasured and valuable piece of cookware. You can continue to use the cast iron for as long as you keep it in good condition. When properly seasoned, the surface will be smooth and shiny. If food begins to stick to the surface or the skillet gets dull or rusted, it’s time to re-season again! Do you have a fun story of reclaiming an old piece of cast iron cookware? Share your cast iron re-seasoning pictures with us on social media.