How-To Season a Cast Iron Frying Pan
I have a cast iron frying pan. The sort with ridges; it makes those impressive restaurant-style lines on steak when you fry a slab of meat. It does the same for veg, too, in case you think this post is strictly aimed at meat-eaters. Now every good cast iron pan needs a proper seasoning to keep it truly stick-free and slick as Teflon – without the fear of possible toxic chemical fumes.
To season cast iron is dead easy; the oven does all the work for you. The only effort you’ll put into this exercise is lifting the pan. This is most easily done as an evening job. You’ll see why in a sec.
First: preheat your oven to medium-high. 400F or 200C should do it okay.
Next step: Using a pastry brush, ‘paint’ a light (but even) layer of vegetable oil over all the surfaces. I also brush the sides, bottom and handle just to be sure humidity in the air doesn’t rust the iron. Don’t use olive oil as it will start smoking and stink up your kitchen. I once set off smoke alarms by doing that. Put your pan in the oven UPSIDE DOWN with a sheet of foil on the bottom rack (to catch drips). This is why you don’t want to ‘paint’ too much oil on the pan; it’ll drip and make a mess. Just a thin,even layer is all that’s needed.
Last step: Let your pan ‘bake’ in the oven for an hour. Then shut off the heat, don’t open the door, and allow the pan to cool in the oven overnight. (See? That’s why it’s an evening job! You sleep while it seasons itself.) If the seasoned surface looks splotchy in the morning, brush on another layer of oil, very thinly, and repeat the process in the oven. Allow to cool overnight again.
It took two attempts to season my cast iron pan the first time. The second time was perfection. I also coat the pan with a tiny bit of oil after each use and/or before storing.
Do you have a seasoned cast iron frying pan? Do you prefer it over the Teflon surface?