Seasoning Cast Iron Pans

  • Seasoning a Dutch Oven
    By Glea and Dennis Reno

    Untreated cast iron rusts, especially around water. To prevent
    metal from oxidizing in the presence of moisture, cast iron
    requires a process called "seasoning". Seasoning is simply the
    procedure of baking oil into the oven's pores, and on top of the
    iron pores. This baked on coating will darken and eventually turn
    black with age. Darkening is the sign of a well kept oven, and of
    it's use. This coating forms a barrier between moisture in the
    air and the surface of the metal. It also provides a non-stick
    coating on the inside of the oven that is easy to clean.




    Here are some tips when it comes time to season your oven.

    Scrub lid and oven in hot water with a mild soap to take off the coating the manufacture puts on the oven before shipping. Use a stiff brush, 3M scrub pad, or plastic scrubbing pad to scrub the waxy coating off of your new Dutch oven, and rinse in clear, hot water. Dry your oven by putting it in the kitchen oven at 150 to 200 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes.

    While it is warm, coat the inner and outer surfaces with a thin layer of cooking oil. Use a good grade of olive or vegetable oil. Peanut oil is a choice of many, and tallow or lard can also be used, but they tend to break down over time and become rancid if the oven is not used often enough.

    Place the oven and lid in a conventional oven, or a gas BBQ grill, with the pot upside down and the lid on the Dutch oven legs. Heat oven at 450 to 500 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the oil turns very dark, nearly black. This process bakes a grease coating into the pot and virtually gives it a no scrub surface.

    Remove the oven and apply another light coat of oil, and. bake at 450 to 500 degrees for another 30 minutes. By using high temperatures, the oil will bake harder and darker, leaving your oven shinier. You should oil and bake at least once, I like to go through this process two, or even three times to get a beautiful dark color, and rock hard finish.

    Turn off the heat and let the Dutch oven sit until cool. If the surface is sticky, bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes. When seasoning your oven it will create a smell that may be unpleasant. For this reason some like to season their ovens in a BBQ outside, however I have done all mine indoors with the doors and windows open.

    The first thing you cook in your oven after seasoning should be things like roasts, potatoes or chicken. Stay away from tomatoes and tomato products with high acid content, or a lot of sugar such as cobblers. Acids and sugars can break down the protective covering before it seasons or hardens properly.

    A well seasoned oven produces a unique flavor unequaled by any other cooking utensil. This is the Magic of Dutch Oven cooking.


    About The Author:
    Glea and Dennis Reno are the owners of dutchovenmagic.com
  • Health risks of cooking with cast iron
    Hi, I have been doing some wonderful reading about cooking with cast iron. I am all for it. I am anxious to start using cast iron. Does anyone know if there are health risks cooking with cast iron?
  • I have never heard of any. Properly cared for, these pans will last "forever." Before vitamin supplements became common, people's main source of dietary iron came from the iron that would transfer to the food from these pans. Mostly that is a concern when making highly acidic dishes (such as things containing tomatoes). Otherwise I have not seen any risks associated with these pans--and the iron transferring into the food would not be a problem for most people as the amount is quite minimal.
  • Health risks cooking with cast iron.
    Hi Barbszy, thank you so much for you imput. I really appreciate it. I am so happy with all you have told me. My next question is; can you still season and use cast iron normally with an electric range and electric ovens? I live in the mountians and with no gas lines coming in to the house, I only have electric to cook with. Thank you, Katie
  • Katie, I just found this site that might help. It's on "Dummies.com" so please don't take offense I find that a lot of their info is clear and helpful.
    http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/Dumm...e/id-2278.html
    It does give hints about using cast-iron pans on electric stoves.
    Do you have burner cooktops or the smooth-top kind?
  • I've used cast iron for years, and when I need to re-season them, it's at 300F for about an hour. I've used them with electric, gas and over wood fires. When the power's out, I use them in our Tulikivi wood furnace. They're wonderful! If you get them TOO hot, though, they can warp (personal experience).
  • I have used cast iron since I have been an adult. I have learned a few things, the hard way,over the years because my mother never used cast iron. I LOVE mine. I have a dutch oven, large frying pan, and a small frying pan.

    Thanks for the tips. I wished I had them years ago.