Cast iron cookware is considered a lifetime investment. With perfect seasoning, cast iron cookware performance becomes better with time. Not only can it withstand a very high temperature, but it can also hold heat for a longer period. That means that once heated, cast iron skillets or pans will maintain the temperature for a long time and give excellent results. But to provide it with a non-stick surface, you need to season it properly with seasoning oils.
The benefits of cast iron cookware abound, but they need basic care and seasoning, and if kept well, they are good to pass on to your children. Cooking in a cast iron grill or skillet gives an excellent result.
Still, seasoning is an essential part of how to keep many kitchen tools well maintained. Did you know that even cutting boards need regular seasoning for protection and maintenance? If you have some important questions about seasoning, like you can season cast iron with olive oil, you are at the right place.
This article discusses everything you need to know about cast iron cookware and whether you can season it with olive oil or not. We will discuss the best oil to season cast iron cookware and explain how to season it.
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What is seasoning, and why is it important?
You cook with cast iron because you want only the best in your kitchen. We get it. Part of having the best is having products that last for generations, and seasoning is a crucial part of prolonging the life of your trusty skillet.
Seasoning adds a baked-on oil layer to your cast iron pan or skillet. It's a curing process that carbonizes the thin, fat layer. Without a protective layer of seasoning, food sticks on a piece of cast iron.
Seasoning cast iron skillets is nothing new. People have been doing it for as long as they use this durable cookware. It puts a layer of oil between your food and the cast iron surface. The layer of seasoning not only protects the cast iron from rusting but adds a shine to it. The most important purpose of the Seasoning process is to prevent food residues from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Cast iron seasoning makes its surface almost like a non-stick surface. Seasoning cast iron cookware is important not only for the first time but can develop rust and a rough surface with time. If left on, the excessive oil can burn and form lumps. So seasoning can not only bring back its shine and luster, but it also keeps it from sticking.
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How to Season a Rusty Cast Iron cookware?
Initial seasoning cast iron cookware is not a very complicated process. Yes, it needs some time and dedication. Let's see how to season the cast iron cookware:
Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware
The most important thing to understand here is that the seasoning requires a clean surface. It's easier the first time when the pots or skillet come clean, but what if you have one left in your pantry for a long time? It must be rusted and need a proper cleaning before seasoning.
You can use hot water with dish soap to clean the skillet with soap. Make sure you remove all the fat or food residues. You might need some scrubbing with the rough side of the scrubber. Make sure you dont use steel wool. If it has burned food, use kosher salt or any coarse salt with warm water.
Use a hard brush if it's too rusty. Using commercial cast iron rust cleaning products like this cast iron scrub, which is made with a gentle but strong walnut husk and natural cleansing oils.
Dry clean the skillet with a paper towel or a kitchen cloth.
Once you have cleaned the cookware, add a layer of vegetable oil, any cooking oil, or oil for seasoning cast iron. Make sure you cover the whole pan inside out with the oil.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. You can heat the skillet on the stove, but you can get even heat to all sides in the oven. After half a minute, open the door and change the side of the skillet. You can put it upside down. Line the sheet with foil to catch dripping.
Leave the cast iron cookware in the oven for 1 hour. Then turn off the oven and leave it inside to cool down.
The best part of using cast iron is that after this initial seasoning, every time you cook something with oil, it will add a layer of oil.
After long use, your cast iron cookware is also perfect for cooking acidic foods.
What oil to choose for Seasoning cast iron cookware?
The choice of coating oil should depend on:
Higher Concentration of Unsaturated Fat
Unsaturated fat is more suitable as it bonds well with cast iron surfaces and is good for polymerization. Some oils for seasoning cast iron do not form a bond with the surface and does not provide the seasoning layer.
seasoning requires too much oil, and different oils are not cheap. What you want is an affordable choice that is not too expensive. Olive oil is going to be too expensive and unnecessary.
High Smoke Point
All fat has its smoke point. The smoke point is that oil can withstand heat to a certain degree. If the temperature gets above that level, the oil can burn and turn to smoke. It will burn and add unwanted smokey flavor for a strong smell to your pan or skillet. Some oils like flaxseed oil do not form a stronger bond layer of seasoning and thus are not
You don't need oil with too strong a flavor to season the pan or skillet. It will be used to cook all sorts of food, and too strong a flavor will leave its flavor in the pan. If left on cast iron for a long time, animal fat or bacon grease will have a rancid smell. Oils like peanut oil have a strong aroma and flavor that lingers with your seasoned layer.
Are oils Good for Seasoning Cast Iron Skillets?
Different types of oil can be used for seasoning. Vegetable oil is a popular choice for seasoning. Vegetable oil has a high smoke point and is affordable. You can use canola oil or even flaxseed oil for seasoning. Canola oil is best for the seasoning.
Lodge uses soy-based vegetable oil on both cast iron and carbon steel cookware. There are commercial oils just for seasoning cast iron like Natural Cast Iron Seasoning Oil
Can I Use olive oil to season my cast iron Cookware?
So now that we know how to season cast iron cookware and choose the oil, the question remains whether one can season it with olive oil.
It's understandable to want to use an oil that you already have on hand, such as extra-virgin olive oil. After all, for seasoning cutting boards, many people will reach for whatever mineral oil they have on hand instead of using the supreme fractionated coconut oil for seasoning cutting boards.
Extra virgin olive oil is very nutritional and perfect for cooking and salad dressings, but it should be a big no for seasoning. It is supposed to cook on very low heat. If you try to season the cast iron with olive oil, it will not only burn but will send carcinogenic fumes into the air. Olive oil also has low smoke points. Its smoke point is 350°F which is lower than canola oil which has a smoke point of 400°F.
Olive oil is costly, and using it in seasoning is unnecessary and a total waste. Instead of adding a light coat of oil, it will burn. Seasoning with olive oil will soon degrade and add smoke flavor to your food. Oil for cast iron should have a high smoke point, so olive oil is not a good choice.
Here are some answers to your frequently asked questions about olive oil for cast iron seasoning.
Should I use olive oil for deep frying?
Virgin olive oil is great for dressings and cooking on low flame. When we are frying, olive oil is not the first choice. First, it's very expensive, and you need to rub it on the entire surface, so a lot of oil is required. Second, it has a low smoke point.
It is supposed to be cooked on medium to low heat. No matter how many food blogs encourage frying with olive oil, still not a very sensible choice unless you are cooking it on a very low heat and are shallow frying some veggies for a salad. Deep frying with olive oil is not recommended.
Do Cast Iron Cookware Need Frequent Seasoning?
Cast iron cookware does not need to be seasoned too often. If you are cooking regularly in the pots and pans, they may not even need it as everything you are cooking a dish with oil adds seasoning layers of oil to the surface.
However, if you have left the cast iron cookware without seasoning them properly or if they are exposed to moisture, it may form a layer of rust. So if you feel your cast iron cookware is rusty or has brown patches, it needs seasoning again. A well-seasoned pan looks shiny and has a semi-gloss look. Another sign is that it does not stick to food.
Cast iron cookware is perfect for long use. If you keep them well-maintained, they are going to be useful forever. Adding a non-stick layer to these pans gives them shine and makes them last longer. Cooking can be tricky with cast iron. It gives different results to different foods in cast iron. At first, it may seem unsuitable for acidic food and may feel sticky. But when you properly season it, the cooking keeps adding coats of oil on its surface. It only gets better with time, and you can even cook acidic soups and sauces.
The choice of oil can be tricky for cast iron seasoning. However, any vegetable oil with a high smoke point is ideal for seasoning. Make sure you maintain your cast iron cookware and clean it properly with soapy water. The seasoning on cast iron can degrade with time, so make sure you oil it perfectly before putting it back in good condition if you use it once in a while.
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