You have finally gotten that cast iron skillet you have always wanted, but now what? The very first thing you need to do is season it so that you can get it ready to make some delicious food. What is seasoning?
In this article, we will cover that as well as some of the benefits of using a cast iron skillet and the oils that you can use to season your pan with. Let’s start with why you should even spend the money on another pan.
Benefits of Using a Cast Iron Skillet
There is a reason your grandma and her grandma before her scream the praises of cast iron. It is a piece of kitchen gear that could if properly taken care of last for decades. Here are more of the benefits you can add to that longevity:
- No need for that non-stick spray! That’s right — if you properly season your cast iron skillet it is non-stick. Many pots and pans that have that non-stick label on them use chemical compounds to achieve this, but with cast iron and a little love, you get a chemical free non-stick pan
- Get more iron in your food. Fortify your food with up to five times more iron. That’s right — by simply cooking in a cast-iron skillet you are getting more of your daily iron requirement
- Clean up is easy! Many people will be skeptical of this as they have heard about the “rigorous” cleaning ritual, but if you think ahead it can be quite easy — take it from us! Just make sure that once you have served, you immediately run the empty skillet under some hot water and, make sure to get rid of all the food bits. Now all you must do is stick it in the oven or on the stove top to get dry. After that, all that is left is to take a little oil and make sure to rub a light coat over the entire pan
- Durable as all get out! Even a cast iron skillet that has seen better days can be revived with just a little love. Therefore, many families have skillets that have been updated by generations. In fact, much like a good wine, the cast iron skillet gets better with age as the layers of seasoning mount up
- Easy on the wallet! Not only is the price tag usually low compared to some of the fancier stainless-steel options, it is so durable that once you purchased one there will be no need to replace it
- Consistent temperature. One of the best things about a cast iron skillet is that t even conducts heat. That means no hot and cold spots that can lead to uneven cooking.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get yourself that cast iron skillet, but before you do here are a few tips for the beginner.
Things to Know When Starting Out
You absolutely need to be aware of a few things…
- You cannot wash this skillet like every other pan you have (See above for tips)
- You must season your cast iron! This makes it non-stick and keeps it ready to use
- Make sure you get flat-edge metal spatulas which will be great to cook with but also will help you with the cleaning process as well.
Oils to Use to Season Your Cast Iron
Now that you have a few key kernels of knowledge under your belt, we can talk about what oils you can use to season your skillet. There are some that are better than others and some that you should not use. Here is a list to help you out:
There are a lot of people that love bacon and using your skillet to cook up some is a great way to keep your skillet seasoned. And you get bacon! It can’t all be bad.
In order to season your skillet, you need to get your skillet heated up to at least 325-degrees Fahrenheit and with a smoke point of 320-degrees, this means that it will begin to smoke and burn, so olive oil is one fat that should not be used to season your skillet.
Another poor choice due to its low smoke point. Safflower oil has a smoke point of 225-degrees Fahrenheit and once again you need to get your skillet much hotter than this; this oil could burn, easily leaving your skillet damaged.
One of the best oils for seasoning your skillet is grapeseed oil. It has a high smoke point which means you will not run the risk of entraining a burnt flavor into your skillet.
You can most definitely use shortening and it is a very popular option. However, you can get results that are just as good with other fats like flaxseed or grapeseed oil.
Coconut has a smoke point that just barely makes the cut so you can use this oil as a seasoning agent for your skillet.
You can use this oil though many have begun to realize the effects on the environment and the fact that this oil is an unsustainable harvest So you can use it, but it is not the most environment-friendly option. So, if that is something you are concerned with, once again try one of the other options on this list.
Cooking with a cast iron skillet is different and yes it takes a little work at the front end, but the benefits of using this piece of kitchen equipment are so vast that a little bit of elbow grease seems well worth it. Now you know what oil to use to season cast iron with which will help you get that front-end chore done, you can get ready to enjoy some perfectly seared steaks.