If you search the Internet you’ll find a multitude of ways to season a cast iron pan with a variety of temperatures and materials. All of them involve rubbing the cast iron skillet with some type of oil and heating it in the oven (or even on the stove).
So this week, I tried them all to see which method was the absolute best. Cause that’s what I do in my spare time. Well, that and slow dance to The Carpenters in my kitchen. I have a thing for the classics.
I already have a method that I like, but I figured I might as well see if there’s anything better out there.
This same reasoning led me to abandon my regular jeans in favour of a pair of jeggings. The experience was horrifying all around. I’m back to jeans.
Almost all of the Internet suggestions say to coat the cast iron pan with whatever you’re going to coat it with and then place it in the oven, upside down, over tin foil. This allows the extra oil to drip off, so in all experiments I used the upside down method.
First I tested Crisco (vegetable oil) using the upside down method at a temperature of 500 °F for 1 hour.
Second I tested Lard (animal fat) using the upside down method at a temperature of 500 °F for 1 hour.
Third time around I tried vegetable oil at 300 °F for an hour.
Fourth I tried lard at 300 °F for an hour.
The winner? Using Lard (animal fat) at 500°F for 1 hour. (actually 1 hour and 15 minutes seemed best). If you’re a vegetarian or vegan you can use solidified vegetable oil, but I found it left a sticky residue after seasoning.
How to Season a Cast Iron Pan
Make sure skillet is clean and very dry. If your skillet has come to you from someone else (or the garbage) scrub any rust out with steel wool.
If steel wool isn’t doing the trick you can place your dirty, disgusting, rusty cast iron skillet into your self-cleaning oven for the shortest time period allowed. Remove and wipe clean.
If you don’t have a self cleaning oven, coat your cast iron skillet with oven cleaner, put it in a plastic bag and leave it overnight. Clean it in the morning.
Once your skillet is prepared for seasoning, grab yourself some lard or shortening.
Take a small amount and rub around the bottom and sides of the pan. You don’t need a ton.
Line the bottom rack of your oven with tin foil.
Place your greased cast iron skillet over the foil upside down (so the drips will be caught by the tin foil)
Bake in a 500 °F oven and for 1 hour, 15 minutes. You need a high temperature for carbonization to occur. I think.
Your house will fill with smoke and your eyes will water at this point so make sure your windows are open and your exhaust is on.
When your timer goes off, turn your oven off and open your oven door part way. Cast Iron has to cool down gradually. If you bring it right out into the much cooler room the skillet might crack.
You may have to repeat this process a few times in a row.
To wash your cast iron pan after using it, don’t run cold water over the hot pan. It might crack. Wipe with a J Cloth and dry it really well to help prevent rusting! That’s it.
500°F for 1 hour is the method I’ve always used, by the way. Proving yet again, the tried and true classics are usually the best.