Cast iron is a cookware that has been around for centuries. It is durable, and affordable, and cooks food evenly. The only downside to cast iron is that it can be difficult to season properly. In this blog post, we will show you how to strengthen your cast iron without using the oven!
The cast iron skillet has been confirmed to be one of the most long-lasting, versatile, cooking utensils in a kitchen. This sought-after piece of cookware, often romanticized by both home and professional cooks, is practical, durable, and a must-have in traditional cooking. Becoming intimate with the caring and cleaning process for your cast iron, known as seasoning, can seem menacing at first. Your cast iron has promised to last generations with the proper care thanks to the skillet’s heavy metal.
Definition of Cast Iron Seasoning
Seasoning is a process of creating a coating of carbonized oil that has been baked onto your cast iron skillet or pan. It forms a protective layer on top of your cooking skillet or pan. It’s what gives your iron skillet an easy-release, natural finish and makes your cooking and cleaning an easy task. You will be glad to know that the more you cook in your cast iron skillet or pan, the thicker this layer of oil gets. As a result, it transforms your skillets or pans into an heirloom with a darker and smoother surface.
Why a Cast Iron Skillet Needs Seasoning
The importance of seasoning a cast iron skillet or pan is straightforward: Your cast iron has a protective overlay known as the patina. It can rust when mixed with water and soap. Apart from preventing developing rustiness, seasoning the cast iron helps to maintain your food from sticking to the facet of the skillet. The skillet is coated in fat such as lard or bacon grease traditionally. Then put in the oven at a high temperature for one hour to dry the oil. Which forms the protective coating through the polymerization process. We recommend that you should season at least once a month. But it really depends on the kinds of food you cook in your pan how and how often you use it.
A traditional cast-iron skillet doesn’t turn up from the box with a nonstick surface. It can be achieved by coating or seasoning the skillet with cooking oil and giving it to bake for an hour. You can also do the heating process on your cooking stove. The best temperature to season cast iron skillet for you is 350° F or 177° C.
Don’t worry later in this article we will be discussing the step-by-step process of how to season cast iron without an oven. So, let’s dive in!
Seasoning on Your Stove Top
- Wash and scrub your cast iron skillet thoroughly. Use liquid soap and steel scrub to clear the skillet’s rust off (if it has rust). Wash it with plain water in case of re-seasoning of the skillet or pan. Then let the pan dry and clean it with a dry piece of cloth.
- Place the pan on your stovetop and heat it up until you feel it’s evenly heated up using a high temperature.
- Carefully apply a layer of oil or fat (whichever you are going with the seasoning) on your skillet. Make sure to use a paper towel to rub it on the skillet.
- Put it back on the stovetop for ten minutes and heat it up. Keep the kitchen windows or exhaust open to let the smoke out of the room.
- Repeat the number three and four steps until your skillet is cooled completely.
- Your seasoned cast iron skillet is ready to use. Voila! That answers how to season cast iron without an oven at your home.
Why Do You Need a Well-Seasoned Cast Iron?
A cast iron is a curious mixture of incredibly unusually delicate and durable cookware. The metal is highly reactive but physically sturdy. This means even a granule of water sitting in your cast iron pan or skillet can leave a rust spot. To protect that nice dark surface, you must glaze it with a thin layer of hardened oil which we know by now is a process called seasoning.
You need a well-seasoned cast iron kitchen pan because, in this form, it protects the metal from air moisture and food that you will be cooking in it. That is why you oil the inside of the cooking side and then heat it until the oil or fat polymerizes. Repetition of the process over time builds up a protective layer. Polymerized oil is more like plastic than a fat layer. That is what makes it hard and resistant to any sticking. By heating the whole skillet to a high enough temperature, you create a bond of the oil to the raw iron in this way on the cast iron surface.
Taking Care of Your Cast Iron Skillet
Let’s discuss some regulations that you need to know to have a thriving lifelong relationship with your cast iron skillet.
Seasoning Your New Cast Iron
Season it when you get your cast iron skillet. Yes, even a pre-seasoned cast iron pan or skillet can do with some additional protection. Heat it up on your stovetop until it is smoking hot. Then rub some fat or oil into it and let it cool. Repeat this process multiple times and you’re ready to roll.
Cleaning Your Pan
Clean it after you use it each time. Clean your pan properly by washing it with water and soap. Scrub out any debris or gunk from the bottom. Use the scrubby side of a sponge for this part if you feel like it.
Re-season it time and time again. Start with rinsing out any excess soap with water. Then put your skillet over a burner set to high temperature. Make sure to dry out the water inside your skillet. Add a half teaspoon of neutral oil like vegetable, flaxseed, canola, or shortening. Rub it around properly with the help of a lump of paper towel. Continue heating your skillet until it just starts to smoke. Then give it one more good rubbing. Finally, let it cool down and you’re done.
Fry and Sear in your skillet. It is the best method to keep your seasoning maintained. The more you sear, fry, or bake in the skillet, the better that seasoning will become.
Avoid Keeping It Wet
Don’t let your cast iron skillet stay wet for a long time. Water is the natural enemy of iron. Letting even a drop of water sit in your skillet for a long period when you put it away can lead the way to a rust spot. Remember though, it will not be the end of the world! But the rust will require some scouring and re-seasoning. Make sure to store them always in a dry place.
Some Recommended Cast Iron Cleaning Tools
Can you season steel like cast iron?
Yes, you can! Similar to the cast iron, stainless steel cookware also can be seasoned to develop a semi-nonstick layer of polymerized oil particles.
Why does my cast iron smoke so much?
If you have a seasoned, black cast iron pan that smokes, the issue is that you have the temperature up too high. A cast iron pan distributes heat really well. So in most cases, you should need to keep the heat up at a medium level.
How can you tell if your cast iron pan is seasoned?
A Well-seasoned pan will have a dark, semi-glossy finish. It won’t be greasy or sticky to the touch. It won’t have any rust or any dry or dull patches. An easy way to test a pan’s well-seasoning is to fry an egg. If the pan is well-seasoned, you will not experience any sticking.
How many times should you season my cast iron?
It should be good for you to season your cast iron in the oven or on a stovetop a few times a year. We recommend using the oven-seasoning method for restoring a rusty cast iron skillet/pan.
Can you wash cast iron with dish soap?
Seasoning is not just a attenuated layer of oil. It’s a thin layer of polymerized oil, an important distinction. Properly seasoned cast iron pan, the oil has already fragmented down into a plastic-like substance. So it has bonded to the surface of the pan’s metal. This is what provides a well-seasoned cast iron its non-stick properties. Hence, any dish soap should not affect it. But do not let it soak in the sink. Try to cut short the time it takes from when you begin cleaning to when you dry and re-season.
A lot of it is contingent on the kitchen tools you use when it comes to cooking. The cast iron skillet or the pan is probably one of the most reliable and oldest utensils in a kitchen. You could utilize it for just about everything.
From frying an omelet for nice morning breakfast to sautéing veggies for your dinner. It’s truly a treasured possession known for its ease of use and versatility passed on by our grandmothers in many families around the world. The strong and sturdy pan is built to last for decades. But just like any other cooking tools, you will have to properly take care of it. And we conclude on that note, hoping our article here will help you achieve that goal.