Your trusty cast-iron skillet may eventually lose its sheen, non-stick capabilities. However, have no fear, because you can easily bring back its luster and protect it from rusting. All it takes is a little seasoning.
Seasoning is the act of building up a non-stick, durable shield over your cast iron skillet. For a cast iron, you want to create a slick enough surface for eggs to slide right across it but tough enough to withstand the high heats it takes to perfectly sear a steak. Our team at AE has devoted many hours to researching the most perfect ways to season your cast-iron skillet – right down to the perfect oil, temperatures, and techniques.
The best way to season your cast iron is to cook with it as often as you can. Every time you cook with oils or fats, it adds a thin layer of seasoning to your cast iron. The more you do this, the more layers it forms, making it more durable and heavily seasoned.
However, in order to kickstart this process, it is best to begin with a thicker, fuller coat of seasoning over the entire pan. Here is the step-by-step process on how to kickstart the seasoning of your cast iron skillet:
1. Wash your cast iron in hot, soapy water. This ensures that all dirt, rust, and dust are cleared away so you have a clean space to work with. After, be sure to dry your cast iron completely using a dish towel or paper towel.
2. Brush your cast iron in oil – and yes, we mean the whole thing. We found that refined grape seed oil creates the most durable coat, however, you can use pretty much any oil to achieve sufficient results. You should use about a tablespoon initially, but you will want to make sure you wipe away any excess to create an even coverage. Use a clean paper towel for this step to make concentric circles. Once the pan looks like it’s dry with a dull matte finish, it is ready for the oven.
3. Bake it at 500 degrees for a thorough seasoning. Put the pan on the middle rack and bake for about 10 minutes, then remove it and wipe away any excess oil with a clean paper towel. Be sure to let it rest for another hour or so in the oven with it turned off. This will really set the seasoning and prepare it for cooking.
4. Repeat. You may want to repeat this process a couple of times until you reach the desirable number of layers. Just remember, cooking with it is always a great way to naturally season your cast iron skillet.
Using a cast-iron skillet is one of the few instances where you can get away with using a generous amount of butter and cooking oils. With time and great use, your cast iron will be well seasoned, and so will you.