Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cast Iron Maintenance & Seasoning

These methods I found a while back, & tweeked & saved on my hard drive.  I am not sure where they came from, so I can not give credit where credit is due.  (sorry)  These are the methods that I recommend:

Maintaining Cast Iron

To clean skillets, scrape with a Lodge plastic scraper (if needed) and then scour with a ScotchBrite plastic scouring pad. These are green in color and have a wavy shape to them. NEVER use soap and never boil a skillet. (Boiling a skillet is when you put a dirty skillet back on a hot burner with water in it. You boil the water and it tends to soften the cooked on food in the skillet. This is not necessary, and it is harmful to your seasoning.) Then, place the skillet upside down on a burner on high (gas stove). Once the skillet heats a bit, coat it with a very light layer of Crisco Shortening. Wipe it off REALLY GOOD with an absorbent paper towel and then place black on the burner upside down. Let it remain until it smokes lightly. Allow to cool. I do this just about every time I cook in a skillet. If skillet cools and it is still a bit tacky, let it stay on the burner a bit longer. Do this every time you clean a skillet and it will be drop-dead gorgeous in no time!

After a piece has been stripped, or if an item is clean but needs reseasoning, (due to sticking food) it will need to be seasoned.
The following is a Seasoning Method that works well for both antique cast iron cookware as well as modern cast iron cookware. This gives skillets a beautiful look while being totally dry.
This method is the culmination of reading and testing so many other methods.
There are a ton of other methods you can use to season your cast iron cookware. Most of them are right in a lot of ways. This is just a tried and tested method.
Heat oven to 200 degrees
1.    Put skillet in oven upside down and allow it to heat to 200 degrees. Approximately 20 minutes should be fine.
2.    Remove skillet from oven. Apply a liberal amount of Crisco shortening. Apply this with a lint-free cloth.  (painter's rags from Home Depot work well)
3.    After applying the Crisco shortening, wipe it all off with an absorbent paper towel. (Blue Scott shop paper towels from Home Depot works well)
4.    Put skillet back in oven upside down. After putting skillet in back in the oven, increase oven temperature to 300 degrees and set timer for 15 minutes.
5.    After 15 minutes has passed, remove skillet and wipe again - lightly. You will notice that when you remove it this time, any excess oil will have begun to pool. This is good, but the timing here is critical - you don't want the oil to get cooked on like this.
6.    Place skillet back in oven upside down. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and let it go for two hours.
7.    Allow to cool completely in oven.
8.    Repeat if more sheen on your skillet is desired.

This method will give you a very smooth, black patina on cast iron. Wiping the iron twice keeps it from pooling. Antique cast iron can be hard to season because it is so smooth.  It is so much easier to season a rougher, modern Lodge skillet than a really slick Griswold skillet.  This method works for both.

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