Cast iron has been the cookware of choice for hundreds of years, and with good reason. The density of iron provides a surface unparalleled for even cooking and well-seasoned cast iron is the original non-stick coating. Sturdy and incredibly durable, a cast iron skillet or pot will last a lifetime and beyond. For those who grew up with cast iron cooking, it is possible the skillet in their pantry belonged to their mother or grandmother (and maybe even her grandmother).
Seasoning is the process of cooking a layer of fat or oil onto the surface of cast iron cookware. This layer of baked-on fat creates a non-stick cooking surface, protects the iron from rust and prevents the iron from reacting with foods affecting flavor. A seasoned skillet can last years when well-maintained, but improperly storage or maintained cast iron may lose its protective surface. When rust rears its ugly head on a beloved cast iron skillet or pot, unlike “modern” cookware, all is not lost. Even the most abused cast iron can be restored to like-new condition with a good cleaning and re-seasoning.
Follow the steps below to bring the magic back to grandmother’s favorite skillet or to season newly purchased cast iron cookware.