Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

If you weren't lucky enough to inherit your grandma's cast iron skillet and had to buy a brand- new one, here are simple instructions for seasoning it before you use it. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet, if properly cared for, will last for generations and will become one of your favorite (if not THE favorite) pieces of non-stick cookware in your kitchen. These tips come courtesy of "Taste of the South" Magazine:

1. Line the bottom rack of your oven with aluminum foil. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

2. Wash your new, unseasoned cast iron skillet in hot, soapy water using a stiff brush.

3. Rinse the skillet thoroughly and dry it completely. One way to ensure it thoroughly dries is to dry it with a towel first and then place the skillet in the oven for a few minutes while the oven is warming up. Just remember to use a potholder before removing the hot skillet from the oven (!!) and then let it cool to the touch before proceeding.

4. Spread a thin coat of melted vegetable shortening (e.g., Crisco brand) over the entire surface, both inside and out (I use a paper towel for this).

5. Place the skillet upside down on the top rack of your oven and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

6. Turn off the oven and allow the skillet to cool before removing.

7. Store your seasoned skillet in a cool, dry place, and never stack anything inside it because that could scratch the thin layer of seasoning. If that happens, the cooking surface will be more likely to stick and/or rust -- but don't despair, you can remedy the problem by re-seasoning the skillet using these instructions.

Note: Proper care of your seasoned cast iron skillet is essential for the longevity of its non-stick finish. This means never using soap to wash it, and NEVER putting it in the dishwasher. After baking cornbread in my cast iron skillet, I usually simply scrub it well with a dry paper towel to remove all crumbs. If you need to wash your skillet, use hot water and a stiff brush, and that's it -- resist the urge to use soap! After washing, make sure you thoroughly dry the skillet immediately and apply a light coat of shortening to the inside before storing.

How to deal with rust: If an old cast iron skillet shows signs of rust, you can scour it off with a metal brush (make sure you wipe out ALL the rust dust - I wipe with a damp paper towel and then thoroughly dry the skillet), and then re-season it using the steps above.

And now you're ready to make authentic Southern cornbread, fried catfish, and all sorts of other down-home Southern recipes!

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

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