If you are new to cast iron pans, you should definitely season them before you use them. Some cast iron pans are already pre-seasoned but even then, you should still want to season your cast iron pan. Now, it is common to season cast iron in an oven. But, if you do not have an oven you can still season a cast iron pan.
To season cast iron without an oven, you only need your pan, a stovetop, a paper towel, and cooking oil. Seasoning a cast iron pan is coating the pan with oil and heating it up past the smoking point to form a layer of protection to prevent rust and corrosion.
If you think of not washing your pan to keep the coating on, think again. Not only it is good practice to season a cast iron pan, but knowing how to clean and care for a cast iron pan will make it last longer.
What Is Cast Iron Seasoning?
When you think about seasoning cast iron pans or skillets, you might think of putting herbs, spices, salt, and pepper in your pan.
Cast iron seasoning is the process of letting oil heat on the pan past its smoking point.
Seasoning cast iron pans is a process called polymerization. This forms a layer of carbonized oil on your pan which creates the shiny black patina cast iron pans to have. When a cast iron skillet is seasoned, a protective coating forms which prevents that pan from corrosion and rust.
Cast iron cookware is usually seasoned in an oven. But, if you do not have an oven, do not despair as you can still season a cast iron pan on a stovetop.
When you get new cast iron pans, they usually come pre-seasoned. But, before using your new cast iron pan, you should still season them to make sure that they have an extra layer of protection.
When you properly season your cast iron pan, it will definitely last you for a long time.
How To Season Cast Iron Without Oven
Seasoning cast iron skillets is not a very complicated process whether you use an oven or a stovetop.
All you need is a couple of things to get you started:
– Cloth or Paper towel
– Light cooking oil, you can use vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, or flaxseed oil
– Cast iron pan
Using cooking oils with unsaturated fat is recommended because they are more reactive and can create a better layer of protection in your cast iron pans. Although, some people season their pans with oils high in saturated fat like bacon grease or lard.
- Clean And Dry The Cast Iron Pan
Before anything else, clean your cast iron pan first, especially if it is new and fresh out of its packaging.
To clean your cast iron pan, wash it with warm water and soap and gently scrub it with a non-abrasive sponge. You do not want to scrub the pan aggressively as it can remove the coating.
Make sure to let the pan completely dry before you start the seasoning process. After drying your pan with a towel, you can put it on your stovetop and heat the pan for a few minutes.
- Add The Oil
After the pan has completely dried, pour vegetable oil, or your preferred cooking oil, on a clean paper towel and rub it all around the pan, including the outside and the handle. Remove any excess oil with another clean paper towel, leaving only a light coating of oil left around the pan.
The cast iron pan should only have a shiny coat to it and not should not be dripping with oil.
- Place The Oiled Cast Iron Pan On The Stove
Once your cast iron pan has been coated with oil, put the pan on the stovetop and let it sit on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the pan has completely dried out. You can move the pan around while it is heating up so the heat can be evenly distributed around the pan. Be careful when moving the pan around as it is hot.
Also, since the oil will go past the smoking point, you want to make sure that your area is well-ventilated to keep the smoke out.
Once that pan has dried out, turn off your stove and let the pan cool down. Do not put the pan under running water or even let water sit on the pan to let it cool down as you might risk damaging your pan.
Your cast iron pan might look mottled at this stage.
- Repeat The Heating Process Three To Four Times
After your pan has cooled down, wipe some excess oil if there is any.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 for three or four times until the pan is no longer mottled and is looking smooth, dark, and shiny. Repeating the process several times ensure that the layers form correctly and you have a good layer of protection on your cast iron pan.
Caring For Cast Iron Pan
Caring for your cast iron pan can make it last for a long time.
After using your cast iron, do not let food remain in the pan. You should wash it immediately to prevent food from sticking to the pan.
You might come across someone saying that you should not wash a cast iron pan to not lose its coating and flavor. But, washing a cast iron pan by hand with warm water and soap is a great way to clean and care for your cast iron pan.
If there is food stuck in the pan, you can gently scrape the food off the pan under warm water. While you can let hot water sit in the pan for a few minutes to remove stubborn food stuck in it, do not let cast iron pans soak in water for a long period of time as it can lead to rust. But generally, it is advisable to just wash the pan and not let it soak in water.
What Do You Need To Clean Cast Iron Pans?
You just need mild soap and water to clean cast iron pans. You can also coat your pan with oil after each use. But, generally, you can season your already seasoned cast iron pan anytime you’d like or if you already see some patches of dull spots.
Storing Cast Iron Pans
Let cast iron completely dry before storing them in a dry place. It is also advisable to keep the cabinet well-ventilated to prevent moisture from building up and damaging the pans.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which Oil Is Best To Season Cast Iron?
Cooking oils with unsaturated fat are recommended to season cast iron. Since these oils are reactive, they can result in an effective layer of coating to prevent rust and corrosion.
What Happens When Cast Iron Is Not Seasoned?
Not seasoning cast iron can lead to rust and corrosion which can damage your pan. It can also lead to the food sticking to the pan.
How To Season Cast Iron In An Oven?
Seasoning cast iron in an oven is the same process as with the stovetop. But instead of a stovetop, you bake the cast iron pan upside down in an oven at about 350 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Put a baking tray covered in aluminum foil on the lower rack to catch any oil that will drip.
If it is a brand-new cast iron, repeat the process three to four times for the best result.
Seasoning your cast iron pan is very simple. You can do it on your stovetop or in an oven. You just need to rub cooking oil in the pan and let it heat up. This process is called polymerization where carbonized oil coats the pan’s surface to prevent rust and corrosion.
The next time you buy a cast iron pan, you already know what to do as we have discussed the steps on how to season cast iron without an oven. Happy cooking!