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How Do You Season or Cure Cast Iron Fry Pans or Skillets?


How Do You Season or Cure Cast Iron Fry Pans or Skillets?

Ready to be Cured

Photo: © Mifflin
Question: How Do You Season or Cure Cast Iron Fry Pans or Skillets?
Uncoated cast iron skillets or fry pans must be cured or seasoned before you can use them - what is this process, and do the words 'curing' and 'seasoning' mean the same thing?
Answer: Cast iron cookware should be cured, inside and out including lids, if the pan is new and has not been pre-cured by the manufacturer, or if your pan is old, and the seasoning has worn off.

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.

Curing/Seasoning Process
  • 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.
You now have a seasoned cast iron nonstick cooking utensil that will last a lifetime with proper care. For tips on caring for cast iron, see Cast From The Past, by guest writer, Dan Mifflin

Update - Reader Recommended: Peanut Oil at 350 degrees also works well.

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