How To Season A Cast Iron Skillet

lodge-cast-iron-skillet

*If this is your first time at Southern Plate, I recommend clicking here!

Today I am thrilled to bring you a guest blogger who will be speaking on a topic we all need to know about! As a Mechanical Design Engineer, Richard Hall may seem an unlikely choice for a food blogger, but his heritage, common sense know how, and generosity in sharing his knowledge with us make him the perfect choice for a topic of the utmost importance to any Southern cook! Be sure to visit his blog! Thank you, Rich!

Hey all,

It is a pleasure to blog on southernplate.com.  Just as Christy has written about her southern heritage, mine is similar.  Both sets of my grandparents were sharecroppers in southern Tennessee and North Alabama.  I grew up eating fresh southern food out of the garden and barnyard.

Since Christy has all these great southern recipe’s, I thought it might be useful to share how to season a cast iron skillet or other type cast iron cooking vessel.  You may ask, what is seasoning and why do I need to season my cast iron skillet?  The answer is very simple.  Seasoning is making your cast iron non-stick like all the new miracle cookware. And the why is you can buy and maintain a non-stick skillet with nothing more than lard and common sense and it will never wear out. The cast iron skillet can be used to cook on the stovetop, the oven or the grill.  A good iron skillet can be passed down as an heirloom if taken care of properly.

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It is very simple to do albeit a little messy.  What you will need is the cast iron skillet, a box of lard, which can be purchased in your favorite supermarket for less than $2.00, a roll of heavy paper towels and an oven.  Just a quick note, the seasoning of a new skillet and the re-seasoning of an existing skillet are the same except for the first step.  So lets get started.

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Make sure your new skillet has been washed in hot water and mild detergent.  This will remove the factory anti-rust coating.  For re-seasoning an existing skillet, just make sure to wipe the entire surface with hot water and a clean wash cloth or paper towel (sponges need not apply).

Dry the skillet by heating on the cook top then let it rest and cool.  Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.

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Fold the paper towel into a fourth and place a dollop of lard in the skillet.  The size is not important, but for a 10” skillet, use about 1/4th of a cup.  More can be added as required to cover.

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Take the paper towel and coat the interior, the exterior down to the bottom edge and the handle liberally.

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I don’t coat the very bottom of the skillet, as any cook surface that it touches will make smoke and just burn off the lard.

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Once you have the skillet coated, place it in the oven (at 200 degrees) and set a timer for 3 hours.  This low temp will open the cast iron pores up and allow the lard to penetrate as it liquefies.

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After the time is up, cut off the oven and let the skillet cool.  Once it is cool enough to touch, wipe it down with another paper towel to remove most of the lard and just leave a thin coat on the surfaces.

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In another hour or so, wipe it down again.

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After this final wipe, the skillet will continue to cool and in about an hour will look like the last picture.

Now you are ready to use the skillet.  For the first couple of uses, cook something greasy like bacon or sausage.  This will help to heat cycle and re-coat the interior surface which will make the non-stick coating better.  Also be aware that it is going to smoke the first couple of uses as it heat cycles and burns off the water trapped in the pores and the excess lard.

To maintain the skillet you will need to wipe the interior every couple of months with bacon grease during a heat cycle or cook something greasy and re-season about every 2 years following the process above.

Also, don’t let food sit in the skillet as this will remove the seasoning.

After each use, wash the skillet out using a very mild soap solution and warm water.  NEVER wash in the dishwasher. The reason for using mild soap solution is to keep from removing the seasoning layer.

One other note that I personally do is the drying step after a wash.  I will turn the cook top on to high and place the wet skillet on it for about a minute.  This will heat the skillet up enough to dry the water and heat cycle the pores.  This keeps everything as it should be.

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If you choose, you can render your own lard from bacon drippings.  If you own a microwave bacon-cooking tray it is very easy.  Just cook some bacon and let the drippings cool either in the tray or pour them into a bowl or shallow dish while still hot.  Once it has cooled and congealed, you can use it just like the lard as described above.  This is perfect for the occasional re-seasoning of your skillet.

I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions just direct them to Southernplate.com and I’m sure Christy can find me to get the answers.

See you on the Internet, Rich

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P.S. From Christy:  This post would no be complete without me sharing one of my all time favorite Southern Plate comments with y’all! Special thanks to Bill Gent for this sweet, horrifying, and hilarious memory!

When I was about 7 or 8 I saw those dirty old skillets and decided I would clean them both real good with SOS pads. My mama would be so proud that I got off all that old black stuff and make-em shiny. I took them outside and used the garden hose since I didn’t wanna make a mess inside. I proudly took them to her when I was finished and proclaimed my good deed. I heard a gasp. She calmly said..”Why thank you honey.. but.. uhh..” I don’t know why I remember it.. maybe it was that horrified gasp that burned it into my memory. ~Bill Gent

Great Cast Iron Recipes to Start You Off!

Dixie Cornbread

Hoe Cake

I’m headed out of town for the weekend to go to a Blogging conference. Y’all have a good one and I’ll see ya when I get back! Gratefully, Christy

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Comments

  1. Michael T. says

    My skillet is 16 yrs old, and has never seen soap since the first time I cleaned it to start the seasoning process. I might add it is not the greasy crusted monster you may suspect after a statement like that.
    It tells me when it needs reseasoned is not a hard process at all. Simply put:
    1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
    2. while oven is heating, place skillet on a burner over mediem heat and add 1 or 2 cups of water, heat to it just starts to bubble on the bottom.
    3.remove from burner, dump that water, cover bottom with hot water from faucet and wipe out with 2 paper towels crumpled togeather being careful not to burn yourself.
    4. dry and add 1 teaspoon of bacon grease or favorite lard or cooking agent of the like.
    5. wipe entire interior surface and leave a non runny amount inside the skillet.
    6. place inside oven for 15 minutes with the heat still on.
    7. turn oven off and leave it set overnite.
    8.Enjoy your cast iron skillet as it is the best to cook your comfort foods in.

  2. Jeff J says

    (HELP!) Please! I have a griswold cast irion skillet my mother gave me when i left home.It’s at least 60 yrs old.she’s gone and i’d hate to have to throw it away.I’ve tryed the oven clean cycle to clean (works great).I used the above seasoning method (200% 3hrs) 3 times, also tryed 375 for 1hr.also after would put lard in on stovetop heat up cool down,repeat,tryed beacon fat also. It looks great after but everytime I try to cook something beacon,sausage,hambuger,chicken.Sticks like super glue.like it’s vulconized to pan have to pry it free! Very discouraged at this point.Any suggestions will be greatle appreciated at this point!

  3. Joey M says

    My old 9″ cast iron skillet makes the very best Pineapple Upside Down Cake ever. The cake comes out of the pan beautifully and never leaves any cake in the skillet. Just finshed making one I’m taking to a friend’s Easter dinner tomorrow. They request it every year!

  4. Xyla says

    My grandmother and mother both used cast iron. I was not sure about it but bought one and once it was seasoned it was the best cooking divice I ever did use. I got to season it again real soon. I have had it for I’ve twenty years! Nothing sticks to it. I promise….( I used the bacon drippings to season it)

  5. maureen gillock says

    i just purchased a 22 in, cast iron skillet at yard sale it is great shape but no name but on the opposite side of handle it has a small help handle, which reads;
    A B & 1. Is there anyone that reads this have any ideal who the maker is?

    • Tina Turner says

      Vanna,
      I need to know the answer to that same question! My grandmom passed away a couple years ago and I just got one of her cast iron skillets, but it’s rusty. I just KNOW I can make it cook-worthy again, but I’m not sure the best way to go about it!

      Tina

  6. Kenja says

    My husband has had a cast iron skillet for 10+ years & due to his incessive nagging, I finally seasoned it per your instructions. Let me tell you, I can honestly see why he had been nagging me for so long because I have fallen in LOVE with this skillet! My question is, after I cook with it & run it under water & rinse it out, I put it on the stove & “burn” off the water then put a little grease or oil back in and coat until I cook again. I’ve noticed when I wipe the oil on the skillet, a black residue is on the paper towels. Do I need to just scrub with some coarse salt & oil or is this a sign of it needing to be reseason end again? Thanks!

  7. Maria says

    I just purchased my very 1st cast iron skillet. A exterior surface. ll the skillets are NOT smooth like I thought they would be it has a rough Interior & exterior surface. It is OK or should the interior be smooth?

    • Phillip says

      I just purchased my first cast iron skillet too and it also has a rough exterior surface. I have completed one round of seasoning and its a little less rough however. Although, the article says, once is enough, I’m going to give it a second round so seasoning tonite. In the meantime, anyone with great wisdom the Marla or me, please chime in!

  8. Pam says

    I have an old iron skillet that was given to me. It was bought at a yard sale by a friend. The inside bottom and sides of the pain are caked with the whatever previous owner fried. If this was from my family I wouldn’t worry so much. I would like to clean it to make it as smooth as possible. Then re-season and start enjoying it. What is the best way to clean it. I have tried a few things and it is really baked on. Please help!

    • Lynn says

      I put my cast iron skillets in my Grill, upside down, on high for about 3 hours, (mine were really caked). I then brushed the rust gunk and rust off, washed with warm soapy water ( I know, I know every one says no soap, but….) then I lathered up with lard, that I purchased at Wal Mart, placed them in my oven, again upside down, ( I placed tin foil under them to catch any dripping) on about 250 for an about 2 to 3 hours. They are a great! I can bake cornbread in them both with sticking.

  9. Marilyn says

    Jeff J,
    You need to bring the pan to a high heat BEFORE adding anything cold or it will stick like crazy. So if you are cooking something that has been in the fridge, set it to high when you first place it in the pan and then slowly turn down to cook as the food warms up. The moisture from the cold food makes it stick. I personally like to bring food to room temp, but still heat the pan on high and then turn down when I add room temp food.

  10. Kim L says

    I have a couple of cast iron skillets. One from my mother-in-law, and one we picked up at an antique type show. My husband took them outside and cleaned them for me. One had alot of build-up on it, the other had rust. I’ve been working on them ALL DAY. They still are not turning black, they are a pretty brown. What do I need to do to get them black??

  11. Nate Drake says

    You guys with the old stuff trying to clean it and get it functioning properly probably need to clean it, sand it with coarse then fine sand paper, clean and then re-season. Should be good as new. Make sure sand it evenly. Probably instructions and vids on the web. Easier than it sounds. Good luck!

  12. Cheryl H says

    I just purchased a cast iron humidifier that sits on top of a wood burning stove. If I properly season it, will it be OK to keep it filled with water? I really don’t want it to turn into a rusty mess.

  13. Jennifer says

    I have my grandmother’s skillet and dutch oven I cherish and use them all the time. I never use soap if i have a big mess in them I use salt and hot water and it works like a dream. I always use the stove to dry and wipe a bit of oil around after every use.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] How To Season A Cast Iron Skillet | Southern Plate A good article on seasoning cast iron. Most important point, DO NOT wash wish soap and water, don't keep it in water, and dry it immediately so that it does not rust. I usually don't use water at all, just a good rag to wipe it out after using, and a special plastic scrubby thing I got from Pampered Chef to take off anything that might still be sticking. I use salt to scrub it if something did happen to stick, and then do a quick reseasoning. Cast iron gets hot slower than other metals, but heats much more evenly. It's good for all sorts of cooking (though, honestly, I have not been able to fry an egg in it, sadly..I just haven't been able to master that one). It goes from stove top to oven easily. As a little benefit..you get some added iron in your diet Properly seasoned, you can have a mostly maintenance free cook piece that is good for just about every application. Somewhat Muddled Musings (Blog) | Swagbucks-it's how I fund Christmas! [...]

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