Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

This baby was my (requested) Christmas gift from my parents this year.  It's a whoppin' 9 quart cast iron Dutch oven.  And, let me just say...LOVE!  

When I told my mom that I wanted a cast iron Dutch oven, she asked if I wanted an enameled one. Although cooks the world over sing enameled cast iron's praises - I just wanted a plain ol' basic one. Nothin' fancy, just hard working. I wish I could get back all the money I've wasted through the years on cookware with lifetime warranties that have disappointed.  Without fail, I turn to my trusty cast iron skillets for cooking.  The only time I find I use one of my other types of cookware is if I don't have it in cast iron.  So, when my mom asked me what I wanted, I decided to go with what I know.

Here's what I love about this type of cookware.  It heats evenly, eliminating hot spots.  When properly seasoned (which we'll get to in a moment), it's non-stick.  It is uber-easy to care for.  Just as you have to be careful about cooking in aluminum because of the danger of it getting into your food, cooking in cast iron also infuses your food with iron - but in this case it's a good thing.  Unlike other cookware's often false claims of lasting a lifetime, I know that this stuff will last for generations.  And, the last thing that I love about this cookware is that it is so durable that it can even be used to cook in a fire. Camping anyone?  Actually, my family lived in Florida in 2004 when the state was bombarded with hurricanes.  We were just fortunate enough to live in a place where the eye wall of 3 of the 4 hurricanes hit our house. :0) The first storm left us without power for several days.  I was so thankful for my cast iron skillets during that time because I was even able to cook green beans on the grill.  I wouldn't have been as confident doing that with a regular sauce pan.

If you find cast iron cookware at a yard sale or thrift store it can be brought back to life even if it is completely covered in rust.  All you have to do is remove the rust with steel wool and then re-season it several times.  The only time you want to stay away from second-hand cast iron is if the metal is cracked.

Unless it comes pre-seasoned, new cast iron is grey in color.  It will turn black with seasoning.  So, just how do we go about seasoning cast iron?  Very simply.  

Rub the entire piece of cookware with oil.  I did both the pot and the lid on mine.  I used lard from the pastured pig we recently bought because A) I had it on hand, and B) it has a higher smoke point than many other oils.  I would stay away from olive oil, but coconut oil or tallow would be great.  And, honestly, though I don't use it anymore, for years I used plain old canola oil.

Put the oiled cookware in a 300 degree oven for an hour or two.

When it's done, rub it down with coarse salt.  That's it.  Honestly, sometimes I do the salt step and sometimes I just wipe off the excess oil with a paper towel.

The more you use cast iron the better it performs.  Since iron is a porous material every time you use it, more of the oil will saturate the pores creating a better non-stick surface.  It's like a fine wine - it just gets better with age. :0)

So, are you a fan of cast iron?  Have any pieces that hold a special history or story for you?  Do tell.  

Tomorrow I'll share the recipe that I tried out my new Dutch oven for the first time with. See you then!

I'm linking this post to Healthy 2day WednesdaysSimple Lives ThursdayHomestead Barn Hop and Your Green Resource.


  1. We love our cast iron! We use it when camping, of course, but for everyday use as well. We recently got a reversible griddle (flat on one side, grill on the other) and it's in use constantly. Love the stuff!

  2. Shari - So glad you love your cast iron, too! I had looked for one of those griddles for a long time and finally found one at a barn sale. It had some rust on it, but I cleaned her up and now she's gorgeous. I use it all the time, too. Love that thing!

  3. Great post! I really need to re-season all my cast iron and then use it. :) Thank you for the tips.
    Oh, I followed your link from Simple Life Thursday's at gnowfglins.

  4. Okay, I have to ask -- what's a barn sale? I'm guessing it's like a garage sale, but I'd never heard the term before and now I've heard it twice in two days!

  5. Roxanne ~ Welcome and thanks for coming by!

    Shari ~ That's funny! A barn sale is just a garage sale held in a barn. They're very common here in IN since it's such a rural community. The particular one I bought my griddle from is a monthly event from spring through fall. The lady who hosts it has coffee and cookies at the ready for free for everyone who comes to poke around. It's really very nice.

  6. Oh, how cool! Hubs is actually from Indiana so I know a little - very little, to be honest - about "country living." I find it interesting though & one day hope to retire to the country.

    The first time I ever went to Indiana, we went to a Carhartt sale that was in a barn. Yes, in a barn. Down some gravel/dirt path, get to a barn, and there's the "store" in the middle of the field. It was quite odd. I was convinced it was a cover for a drug op or something LOL. Hubs & his family still get a kick out of ribbing me over that one!

  7. This post was very informative and helpful. We love cast iron for cooking in our home!

  8. Pam, Hi! Thanks again for this post, as hubby and I reseasoned all the cast iron pans this weekend, and every time I have used them this week, I have thought of you! :)

    Hope you are having a great week.

  9. Shari ~ I can't say I've ever been to barn sale that secluded. Funny you thought it might be a drug cover! LOL

    Laura ~ Thanks for coming by! Glad to see you're part of the cast iron gang. :0)

    Roxanne ~ Awwww, that's so sweet! Thanks for thinking of me! I'm glad you were able to reseason your pans. Hope you and your hubby have a wonderful week as well!

  10. I've always wanted a cast iron dutch oven! I've been anemic since childhood and I've heard that cooking with cast iron is supposed to help. Maybe someday I'll get the chance to find out! Thanks for the useful tips :)

  11. Very informative....thankfully I've always purchased mine at antique places so they are definitely well seasoned. But of course I have to clean them well after bringing them home.


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