If you’ve shopped for cast iron or carbon steel cookware, you’ve probably seen the word “pre-seasoned” in the pan’s description.
Pre-seasoned cookware has been specially treated with a coating of oil to create a non-stick surface. Certain types of cookware benefit from seasoning. It improves the pan’s performance and makes clean-up a breeze. I also highly recommend keeping up with seasoning your cast iron cookware! You’ll thank me later.
What Types of Cookware Are Seasoned?
Most types of cookware do not need to be seasoned. Cast iron and carbon steel benefit most from seasoning, but tin and hard-coat aluminum may also be seasoned.
Seasoning does more than just provide a non-stick surface. In the case of cast iron cookware, seasoning also prevents the pan from rusting. This is the primary reason why most cast iron pots and pans are pre-seasoned before they are shipped to the consumer. Without this protective coating, the pan may rust before it arrives at the store or the consumer’s home.
In some cases, cast iron and carbon steel cookware will arrive unseasoned. In this case, the manufacturer will provide instructions on how to properly season the pan. The pan must be seasoned before it can be used.
How to Season Cookware
Seasoning is fairly simple and straightforward. The process is lengthy, but it’s mostly hands-off. All you need is some cooking oil and time.
Cast iron connoisseurs will tell you that the type of oil you use makes a difference, but most manufacturers will state that any type of cooking oil can be used. The most common and popular oil choices are:
- Flaxseed oil (the preferred type)
- Vegetable oil
Some people also use coconut and olive oil to season their pans, but not everyone succeeds with these oils. Shortening, vegetable oil and flaxseed oil are the preferred methods and are generally foolproof.
To season cast iron cookware:
- Start off with a clean pan.
- Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature.
- Apply a thin layer of cooking oil to the interior and exterior of the pan. Some people also apply the oil to the handles of the pan. If you do decide to do this, be very careful when handling the pan as the handle will be slippery.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place it on the bottom shelf of the oven. The lined pan will be used to catch any oil that may drip from the cast iron pan.
- Place the cast iron pan in the oven, and allow the seasoning to “bake” for approximately one hour.
- Turn off the oven and allow the pan to cool inside.
- Store in a dry, cool place.
Cast iron cookware will need to be re-seasoned from time to time. When food begins sticking to the surface of the pan, it’s time to re-season.
When purchasing seasoned cookware, it’s important to remember that this is just a basic seasoning. To create a lasting non-stick surface, you must cook with quite a bit of fat until you have built up a nice, thick layer of seasoning. To preserve the seasoning, cleaning with just a towel and kosher salt is recommended.
Check out this awesome video on how to season a cast iron skillet!