I’ve spent a lot of time reading, re-reading, watching YouTube videos, conferring with my mentors, and here’s what I can share with you.

So, how exactly does cast iron become seasoned? 

The surface of cast iron is full of tiny pores that food will stick to when you cook.  The way to prevent sticking is to use a fat.  When you heat oil in your skillet, its fatty acids oxidize or polymerize, which means a slick coat begins to form on the surface – seasoning.  The idea is to repeat the exposure of hot oil to build up a dense layer, which makes the skillet more durable and smooth.  Continued use is the key to achieving a nonstick surface.

How do I maintain my seasoning?

Clean your cast iron once you finish using it.  It’s way, way easier to clean off a skillet when it’s still hot than when it’s cold.  With that said, never soak your skillet in water or just leave it in your sink for when you get around to it.

Wash your cast iron by hand – go old school with hot water and the tool of your choice.  I’ve had a ton of discussions with my cast iron mentors – a soft-bristled, non-abrasive scrub brush or a sponge always seem to be approved methods.  There are camps who say yes to soap and the traditionalists, who will never abide by it. 

For really tough residue, there are those who swear by using a cup of coarse Kosher salt and scrubbing.  Some cast iron folks use abrasive scrubbers – there are a million out there, while others feel they should be avoided.The more you use your cast iron, the more comfortable you will be with the cleaning method that’s right for you.

When your cast iron is clean, you’ll want to dry it completely with a paper towel or dish towel – never let it air dry.  You’ll need to reheat over medium-low heat until the last remnants of moisture are gone. Add about a half teaspoon of the oil of your choice to the cast iron and coat the inside of the piece with a paper towel. Rub the oil into the cast iron until all surface areas look shiny and black.  You’ll want to let the piece cool down and then store it in a dry place.

#castiron #smallbusiness #griswold #wagnerware #vintage #restoredandready

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