Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware (2 of 3)
In my last blog we had a look at how we might rescue a neglected and rusty piece of cast iron cookware in the form of a paella pan. This time we will look how we can take that another step further and season it. Seasoning your cast iron cookware need not be complicated and it will bring several benefits. Firstly it helps to create its own non stick surface, making cooking and cleaning much easier. Secondly it will help provide a protective coating sealing it of from any atmospheric moisture preventing it from rusting and preparing it for the next meal. Finally once seasoned it will impart a wonderful subtle flavour into your food each time you cook with it.
As with cleaning your cast Iron there is more than one way you can season your cast iron, but the process is essentially the same. Seasoning involves impregnating the surface of the metal by baking the surface with oil. This creates the non stick coating. This can be done on a camp fire, stove or oven at home. for the purpose of this blog I will be using an oven.
Firstly bring the cast iron up to cooking temperature (Roughly 200-220C) on your desired heat source to help open up the pours of the cast iron surface. Remove and allow to cool a little.
We now need to coat the cooking surface with oil, avoid animal fat oils as these have a tenancy to turn rancid. liberally add vegetable oil, coating all the cooking surfaces. Please take care as you do this as the cast iron remains hot for some time after being removed from the heat.
If using an oven, place your cookware upside down to maximise this process. keep it there for at least an hour. It is a good idea to place a baking tray under your cookware to catch any of the oil which may drip down, making cleaning your oven easier. If seasoning over an open fire place two green logs to balance your pan over the hot coals, alternatively if you are seasoning a Dutch oven suspend it over the fire with the lid on. This will help to circulate the oil within it, to season it.
Repeating this process a couple of times will help to thicken the coating, helping to protect it from acidic foods, like tomatoes of fruit for example.
There you have it, your rejuvenated cook ware, now just need to go and enjoy using it.