Many manufacturers are now marketing pans that have been pre-seasoned. In this case, the curing process has been done for you, but read the product manual carefully to see if there are any initial washing instructions to follow.
The words 'curing' and 'seasoning' both refer to the process of coating your pan with grease and oven-cooking it, which fills the pores of the cast iron, and renders your pan with a natural, nonstick-type of coating.
To maintain the curing on your pan, you should only rinse or quickly wash with mild soapy water after each use. Too much scrubbing and hot water will remove the curing, and the pan will require a re-seasoning. It is normal for your pan to require a re-seasoning occasionally.
- Prepare your pan by scrubbing it with hot soapy water, ensuring there is no food residue or rust, and dry it completely.
- Warm the pan up slightly, and apply a coat of melted shortening to the inside and outside. Liquid cooking oils are not recommended.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and put your cookware in upside right, on a foil-covered cooking sheet, to catch any drips. If you use a non-covered baking sheet, it will require a good scrub afterwards - the foil saves on the cleanup.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes. If it starts to smoke, reduce the temperature by 10-15 degrees until it stops. This may increase the time by a few minutes, but will not hurt the cure.
- Drain off any excess grease, and put the pan back in the oven, this time upside down, for 1 to 3 hours. A re-seasoning may only require half of that time.
- Turn the oven off, and let the pan cool down naturally before removing it.
Update - Reader Recommended: Peanut Oil at 350 degrees also works well.