Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

My tip today is for seasoning your cast iron pans.
I have had a wonderful cast iron dutch oven for years, but because of not being seasoned properly, it was delegated to the back corner in a cabinet. When cast iron pans aren't seasoned properly, they rust & can make the food taste like metal. My dad gave me the dutch oven so many years ago I don't even remember when! I tried to season it, but really didn't know how. And that was back before internet, so I didn't have the world of info at my fingertips like I do now. LOL I found this pan when I was searching for more storage space for all of our home canned jars. I was running out of storage space! When I found this pan I just sat & held it & remembered my dad giving it to me so long ago. I decided that it was such a shame to have it tucked away & I determined to figure out how to season it & USE it.
Here are my 3 cast iron pans. On the left is my 8 inch dutch oven & just above it is the lid that doubles as a little frying pan. This is "new" but given to me...guessing here...about 20 years ago. The large pan is a big 12 skillet that my m-i-l gave me years ago. It was one of hers, & there's no telling how old it is. It is already seasoned. I don't think you can really tell by the picture, but the surface is smooth.

The dutch oven looks shiny because it has been oiled, not because it it seasoned.
So, onto the how to....
I've looked over many websites about how to do this. There are quite a bit of variations, but it basically all boils down to the same technique.
1. Clean your cast iron pan really well. If there is rust on it, use a scouring pad or even steel wool to get it out. You MUST remove the rust. You can use nice soapy hot water too.
2. Dry pan really well, or it will rust again. You can even set it on a hot burner for 1 minute to make sure it has dried. I do this everytime I use mine.
3. Rub crisco all over the cooking surface of your pan. I learned to not use liquid oil as it can get gummy in the seasoning process. Also, rub it in with your fingers & not a paper towel. Even though some sites say to use a paper towel, I was finding paper towel fibers embeded in the 'oil layer' in my pan.

4. Cover the bottom rack in your oven with foil.
5. Turn your oven on to 350 & place pans upside down on middle rack. Bake for 1 hour.
6. Turn off oven & leave pans in the oven to cool down.
7. Remove pans from the oven & rub any excess oil from your pans with a soft cloth or paper towels. (it didn't seem to leave fibers in this step)
And that's it. Your pan is seasoned. But it's not forever. You may need to do this a few times.

I actually read that the best way to season your pans is to use them often. I have used my dutch oven a lot in the last 2 months. After I've washed & dried it, I rub a thin layer of crisco inside it.

Now, there are differences of opinion on how to clean them. There are folks out there that swear you should never use soap on them after the first time you clean them. I've tried that, but it just gives me the willies, actually. LOL I mean, I put RAW hamburger in it! Well, I read on one site that the "no soap rule" came about from years & years ago....when there was LYE in soap. And the lye would strip off the seasoned layer. But today's soap isn't that strong, & I read that it will NOT hurt the pan...as long as you're not using homemade LYE soap. LOL So I do use just a teeny-tiny bit of soap & some really hot water. And more importantly, ***dry it thoroughly***. Rub a little crisco in it, & use that pan a lot!

Ok, I've written enough. LOL Here are some of the links I used to learn about seasoning cast iron pans:

This site has tons of info on cast iron pans.
This site is on seasoning & caring for cast iron pans.

I also wanted to show you something. It's kind of an update on last week's
Kitchen Tip Tuesday on keeping fresh herbs fresh. As I was taking pictures of my pans, I looked over at my parsley & thyme in the 'vase'. I realized that it's been exactly a week. I promise, this is the SAME batch of parsley & thyme that I took pictures of last week! The only difference is that there is a little less of both herbs because I've used just a little this week. Just LOOK at how FRESH they still are! They have been in this glass of water for 1 full week!

You can read more Kitchen Tip Tuesdays over at Tammy's site.


mub said...

I'm on a hunt for a cast iron pot that I can use on my ceramic stove... if I ever find one, I know how to season it now!

That's amazing that your herbs are still so fresh. I know for SURE I'm stealing this tip =D

Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY seasoned my pans yesterday! They needed it. Thanks for the tip and the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder. I just have to remember where I stashed them...I rearranged everything last spring and I only use mine in the fall/winter. I'm so glad you printed the bit about the lye. I've always slowed my cooking because of the thought of raw meat. Now I can be a bit more confident.

Anonymous said...

I love my cast iron pans. My mom had to stop using hers when she got the ceramic stove, so I got some of them.

Anonymous said...

By the way the anonymous above was from Katie on WAH.