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Page Contents:
-First, wash that new pan
-The best oil for seasoning
-Picking a seasoning method
-The clean-up
-Storage after seasoning

How to Season Cookware

Cookware made of Cast Iron, Cast Aluminum and Steel are customarily seasoned prior to first use.

The process of seasoning fills the porous cooking surface with carbonized oil. This seasoning forms a protective barrier against oxidation (which would otherwise cause pitting and/or rust), and it helps to keep food from sticking to the bare surface.

First, Wash That New Pan

♦   Scrub your new pan in hot, soapy water to remove packing oils, then rinse well and towel dry. Put it over a heat source or a 200°F oven for thorough drying, then let it cool before seasoning it.
♦   We do not recommend washing pots and pans in the dishwasher; iron and steel will rust in it, and some finishes can get marred from the harsh detergents.

The Best Oil for Seasoning Cookware

♦   We recommend Peanut Oil, because it has a very high smoking point.
♦   Grapeseed and Canola also have a higher tolerance to high heat than most oils.
♦   Flaxseed Oil is recommended for thin coatings and repeated heatings. 1
♦   If you want to be traditional about it, you can use lard.
♦   We do not recommend using butter, olive and other oils that will smoke at temperatures too low for proper seasoning.

Pick a Seasoning Method

The Stovetop Method

♦   Pour a bit of vegetable oil into the pan and spread with your fingers over the inside surface up to the rim.
♦   Put the pan over moderate heat and remove when the oil begins to smoke.
♦   Then let the pan cool completely.
♦   With a clean cloth or paper towel, wipe off any excess oil and your pan is now ready to use.

The Oven Method

♦   Pour a bit of vegetable oil into the pan and spread with your fingers over the inside surface up to the rim.
♦   Put the oiled pan in a 300-350°F oven for about an hour.
♦   Remove from the oven and let cool.
♦   Then wipe off excess oil and your pan is ready to use.

The French Fry Method

♦   Philadelphia food writer Jim Quinn suggests making French fries in your new pan a few times to season it.

To season a Grill Press, first remove any handle, then rub the press thoroughly with a heavily oiled cloth before putting in the oven. (A pan on the rack underneath will catch any drips.) Use a similar process to season two-sided griddles.

1An Alternate Oven Method

Sheryl Canter discusses the science of seasoning in the article linked below. And she recommends thinly coating the surface with food-grade organic Flaxseed Oil before heating the pan upside-down at 500°F for an hour, allowing it to cool for a couple hours, then repeating the process six more times for a perfect, long-lasting non-stick coating.
Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning: A Science-Based How-To

The Clean Up

♦   After each use, clean your pan with very hot water and a scrubbing brush, then dry. You can speed thorough drying by briefly putting the pan over a heat source.
♦   To remove strong smells left from cooking certain foods, put the pan in the oven at 400°F for 10-15 minutes.
♦   If you must use soap, you will need to re-season the pan after washing it. And if the steel or iron pan ever rusts (aluminum doesn't rust), just sand out the rust with fine sandpaper, wash thoroughly and re-season to make it like brand new.
♦   Keep your seasoned pans out of the dishwasher. The harsh detergents will remove the seasoning, undoing all that great work that just went into making your new pan last forever.

Storing Seasoned Cookware

♦   If you don't use steel and cast iron pans very often, spread a light coating of oil on the inside surface of the pan before storing it.
♦   When steel and iron pans are to be out of use for a long time, oil heavily and store in a plastic bag to keep from rusting.
♦   Cast aluminum pans don't need coating, because they can't rust. They can be stored without additional care.