HOW TO SEASON:
First, what is seasoning? It’s the glorious layer of oil that when heated appropriately binds to the surface of your cast iron. Since cast iron has a porous surface the seasoning helps protect from air and moisture. The magic of cast iron seasonings is how it enhances a natural non-stick surface to cook on. Usually, seasoning is built up while you cook on the cast iron with time, but we have a quick how-to for re-seasoning that fresh cast iron cookware or even the neglected one tucked away in the cupboard will benefit from.
Secondly, how to season? Remember: thin layer of oil! Avoid using too much oil while re- seasoning because it creates a gummy or uneven surface where it could flake. You can re-season using your oven, stovetop or broiler. Our go-to is the stovetop: apply a thin layer of oil by dropping a quarter-size drop into the bottom of the pan. You can use lard, plain vegetable oil or grapeseed oil. We highly recommend grapeseed oil because of its neutral flavor (hello cookie skillet post garlic herbed chicken dish!) and that is has a higher smoke point than the commonly used olive oil. Then use a clean cotton rag to wipe the oil through the interior. Next, you will heat your cast iron on high until you see wisps of smoke from the pan. Then that’s your cue to turn off the heat. If you see any excess, pooling oil in the pan feel free to wipe the excess out now.
If oven or broiler are more your thing... Preheat your oven to 450’ F or turn your broiler on high. Then add your thin layer of oil and pop the pan in. For the oven it will hang out for 1 hour then let you turn off your oven leaving your pan to cool down in the oven overnight. For the broiler it’s a quick 7-10 minutes or until your pan darkens.
Thirdly, how often? You do not have to season after each use. Smithey adds a thick, durable pre-seasoning that makes their cookware ready to use as soon as you get home. Other brands might need more love to build up a strong coat of seasoning before first use. When to season really depends on what you are cooking in your cast iron. Fatty and acidic foods like bacon and tomatoes are harder on existing seasoning. Pancakes and eggs don't effect the seasoning much at all. Also how often you use your pan determines the wear-and-tear and need for maintaining the seasoning layer. Simple rule: is the more you use the pan the more wear on the seasoning. However, the more you use the pan the better it will perform as it is adding new molecules of polymerized oils.
We hope this helps shake any mystery or uncertainty with caring for your cast iron and if you are in the market for a new cast iron pan come check out our Smithey Collection online or in store.