Friday, May 07, 2010

Cabin Cooking: Seasoning Cast Iron Frying Pans

One store Wayne and I like to frequent is Harbor Freight Tools. They're nationwide in the US with several in Washington and Oregon near our travel routes. Of course they're loaded with tools, but they also have some home items. On our last trip I got a three-piece set of cast iron frying pans. To use cast iron for cooking and keep it from rusting, it must either be the pre-seasoned kind or manually seasoned by the user. For $13.99 I had to do the seasoning.

The pans are shipped (often from China) in a protective coating. In my case, it was a waxy substance. To season the pans I first had to remove the waxy substance to get down to bare metal. I used hot soapy water and a scour pad. Oh, there was one other ingredient, lots of elbow grease. You don't want to start the seasoning process until all of this yucky stuff is removed.

The next step is to rub the entire surface of the pan with fat (like Crisco) or vegetable oil. It's best to use a variety that's high in saturated fats. I didn't have any on my shelf, so I used my regular cooking oil. After coating each pan inside and out with oil, bake them upside down in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. It does smell a bit, so I opted to use our BBQ outdoors on low. After the hour let the pans cool before touching them.

Seasoning makes the cast iron non-stick. To keep it that way, wipe them clean with as little water as possible and dry immediately. Warming on the stovetop helps. If the pan starts sticking or rust appears, you can go through the seasoning process again.

Here is a quick Good Housekeeping Magazine video on YouTube showing the process.

Do you have any favourite cast iron recipes? I'd love to hear them. -- Margy


  1. I love my cast iron. we have 4 skillets but my favorite is a dutch oven thet I got from my Mom who got it from her Mom and so on.
    I think in the Winter it is our most used Kitchen item

  2. I used to have to one but could not keep it from rusting and food always stuck so it went...I still regret it. I also read that coarse salt can be used to scrape way stuck on food...

  3. I have a cast iron frying pan which I inherited from my grandfather. It has a wooden handle and is one of my favourite objects. I re-season every so often, but I don't have to do that much. It's so black and heavily coated with grease on the outside of it I imagine it probably draws on the reserves, when it feels dry...heh!

    These pans are definitely worth having...I don't know what I'd do without it! I use it for everything you can imagine, but I can't finish food off in the oven with it because of the wooden handle. Food just tastes better cooked in this pan!

    Good post, Margie!

  4. Hoping to locate one or two at garage sales this summer. Food does taste so much better cooked in a cast iron frying pan.