A cast-iron skillet is an essential kitchen tool. It’s perfect for cooking eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausages, steaks, etc. Cast iron skillets are also known as "Dutch ovens" because they were originally used to cook stews and soups.
A cast-iron skillet has been around since the early 1800s. They’re durable, heat evenly, and last forever. But how often should you season a new or old cast-iron skillet? The answer depends on what type of seasoning you use.
There are two types of cast-iron skillets: seasoned and unseasoned. A seasoned cast-iron skillet will have some sort of coating that helps protect it from rusting over time. This coating can be oil-based or water-based. Cast iron skillets are an essential part of any kitchen. They’re durable, versatile, and inexpensive. However, if you’ve been using cast iron skillets for years, you might wonder whether you should season them at all.
Seasoning cast iron skillets is a simple process that involves heating the skillet to high temperatures and then applying oil or another seasoning. The goal is to create a protective layer that prevents rust and extends the life of the pan.
However, there’s no set rule for how often you should season your cast iron skillets. Some people say that every six months is enough while others say that you should season them once a year.
The best way to determine when to season your cast iron skillet is by looking at its condition. If your skillet looks like this, it needs to be re-seasoned:
If your skillet doesn’t look like this, it probably isn’t in need of a good cleaning. You don’t want to clean out your skillet too much though. Cleaning with soap and hot water only removes surface dirt. To get rid of deep stains, scrubbing may not work well. Instead, try rubbing the stain with steel wool. Then wash off the residue with warm soapy water.
If you do decide to clean your skillet, make sure you rinse it thoroughly before storing it away. Rinsing cleanses the skillet but does nothing to remove the grease buildup. Grease builds up quickly after repeated uses and eventually causes problems such as sticking pans together. Soaking the skillet overnight in cold water works better than rinsing alone.
You’ll know when your skillet needs to be cleaned again if it starts developing spots where food sticks. These spots indicate that the skillet hasn’t been properly washed. When washing your skillet, remember to wipe down both sides of the pan. Don’t just focus on one side; otherwise, you could end up leaving streaks behind.
When you first buy a cast iron skillet, it comes pre-seasoned. That means that someone else already applied a thin coat of oil to help prevent rust. After about three weeks, however, the oil begins to wear off. At this point, you’ll notice that the metal becomes duller and more prone to rust. In order to keep your cast iron skillet shiny and free of rust, apply a fresh coat of oil each month.
To apply oil, simply rub the inside of the skillet with vegetable shortening until it glistens. Make sure you leave plenty of space between the bottom of the skillet and the stovetop. The only time you should season your cast iron skillet is the first time you use it when it’s brand new. The fats and oils will naturally contribute to the seasoning when you cook fatty meals with it. Once you start cooking regularly, you won’t need to season your skillet anymore. But if you find yourself missing the convenience of having a ready-to-use skillet, you can always add a little extra oil to bring back the shine.
A seasoned cast-iron skillet has an even coating of fat which helps protect against corrosion. This makes the skillet easy to heat evenly without burning foods. It also allows the skillet to retain moisture during cooking. A seasoned cast-iron skillet is ideal for searing meats because it retains heat longer than other types of nonstick surfaces.
Cast iron skillets are made from carbon steel, which contains small amounts of chromium and manganese. Chromium gives cast iron its unique ability to resist oxidation. Manganese adds strength and durability to the material. Both elements combine to form what we call "iron oxide." As long as there is enough oxygen present, these two ingredients create a protective layer over the entire surface of the skillet.
The process of creating a seasoned cast iron skillet involves heating the skillet at high temperatures. During this step, the iron combines with oxygen to produce iron oxides. Over time, the iron oxide forms into a hard crust or patina. This creates a durable finish that protects the skillet from further damage.
The best way to maintain a good seasoning is by using regular maintenance techniques like cleaning and wiping out any spills immediately. If you don’t wash your skillet often enough, the seasoning may begin to break down. You might see some discoloration around the edges of the skillet.
Seasoning a cast iron skillet takes patience but not much effort. To get started, place the skillet in a cold oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Turn the oven off after 30 minutes so that the temperature doesn’t rise too quickly. Leave the skillet in the oven overnight. Remove the skillet from the oven and let cool completely before removing the lid. Wipe away any excess grease with paper towels. Use a soft cloth to clean the outside of the skillet. Don’t scrub the pan; just wipe away all traces of food residue.
Once the skillet is dry, repeat steps 1 through 3 above. Place the skillet on top of a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Put another piece of aluminum foil underneath the skillet. Heat the skillet in the oven again for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the skillet to sit in the oven overnight. Repeat steps 4 through 6 above.
I hope I have answered most questions about how to properly care for my cast iron skillet.