Seasoning Cast Iron

Week after Thanksgiving, time to clean and use up the leftovers.  We’ll start with the cleaning, today How I Clean My Cast Iron!!!

Step One (arguably the most fun of all the steps):

Dirty the Cast Iron.  There are many ways to do this, I made Roasted Mushroom Gravy!

Now there’s a lot of you out there that would think this would be a good time for soap, water, a green scrubby and some elbow grease.  I Say Thee Nay!!! Nothing ruins a good, seasoned cast iron pan faster than soap and water.  How do you clean it, much less sanitize it?  Salt!  Salt is amazing, it’s abrasive so it’s good for getting out baked-on food, but more importantly, salt sanitizes your pan using osmosis, which is ten times cooler and more effective than any soap.  This brings us to:

Step Two:

Salting the Cast Iron.  Dump enough kosher salt into your pan to generously cover the bottom, like so.

Salt, better than soap any day!

Put the pan on a low flame, as low as you can possibly make it.  Then just scrub the pan.  I like to use two folded up paper towels to protect my hands from the heat, other wise just scrub the pan using the salt until the bottom is nice and shiny.  You’ll be amazed how much unseen build up the salt will pull off your pan, causing it to turn color as it pulls up the grime.

The salt after sucking up all the grime from the pan.

For those of us concerned about waste, you can keep this salt in a container and use it multiple times.  In fact, this is where the term Seasoning Salt first came from!  Any-hoo, after you have all the baked in, built up grime scoured up off the bottom of the pan, it should look something like this.

Clean, ready to be seasoned!

Now it’s time to put a fresh coat of seasoning on the pan.  Or as I like to call it:

Step Three:

Oiling the Cast Iron.  Put the pan back on the flame and let it sit there until you can see the first faint wisps of smoke curling up off the surface.  Then add in a small amount of canola oil, about the size of a fifty-cent piece.  If you don’t know the size of a fifty-cent piece, look it up, it’s about time you learned about something that happened before 1996.

Heat + Oil = Clean Pan!

Take the oil and swirl it all around the bottom of the pan, making sure to tip the pan slightly to get it up on the lip as well.  Be Very Careful!!  Oil is hot.  This is not something to do while the kids are busy lacing your shoes together.  Then put the pan back on the flame and heat the oil to a light smoking.  Then swirl it again.  Repeat once more for good measure.  Then take two paper towels folded up into fourths and wipe out all the excess oil.  The hotter the pan is when you do this, the more successful you’ll be.  So buck up and touch the hot pan!  If you’ve done things correctly, your pan should look like this.

I thinks this is worthy of a close up.

Oooh, Shiny!

One important note, 80% of the time, this isn’t necessary.  You just need to wipe the pan out really well as soon as you’re done with it and then give it a very light oiling and wipe it out.  This technique is for when you burn the crap out of something, or you just don’t have time to get to the pan right away.  Otherwise, good luck!

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About blaberuscraniifer

I am a mad bastard of a writer/chef who lives. I like to run around the mountains with my elderly canine, crawl around after my insano-cute demon spawn, cook amazing food and write good stories. I also enjoy gardening, long walks on the beach and making sweet love to my beautiful wife who is much, much smarter than you.
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4 Responses to Seasoning Cast Iron

  1. I call shenanigans on your claim that this is where the term “seasoning salt” came from. Need source. 🙂

  2. This is the story the Head Instructor of the culinary school that I attended told us. He said that they used to keep large jars of used salt labeled ‘seasoning salt’. It was much later on that the term was used to describe the fine, fine products from Lowry’s. He was an old German man, so I tend to believe him as he wasn’t known for his sense of humor. Also keep in mind that back in the day, salt was really expensive, so why wouldn’t you use it again? Sifted first, of course.

  3. Very interesting! I did try this last night when I scrubbed out my skillet. I have some serious envy of the shine you have in that last picture, so I see I need some work on mine. Thanks.

  4. The secret to the shine is heat! Now I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have spent the last 15 years in professional kitchens and you probably have feeling left in your hands. This is a great use for the Ove-Glove. That kevlar thing that is totally heat resistant. The hotter the pan is on the final step when you swirl the oil and rub it into the iron, the shinier the end result. Be Very Careful, I don’t want to be responsible for hideous scarring of your hands. (Chicks dig scars.)

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