I recently purchased my very first cast iron skillet (similar to this Lodge 12-Inch Skillet). I’d been thinking about it for some time, after reading about the versatility and health benefits of cooking in cast iron, but hadn’t made the commitment. We happened into a Williams-Sonoma Oulet store a few weeks back and they had a sale on all of their Lodge cast iron, a well-known and highly-recommended (and affordable) line. The pull was too much to resist and we walked out with a 12-inch pan. I also once read that if you spend more than $40 on a cast iron skillet, you’re getting robbed.
Seasoning your cast iron ensures that it will be a fantastic non-stick cooking surface for cooking everything from cornbread and frittatas to searing steaks. Cast iron is not only versatile (some people use it for all of their cooking), but also has health benefits. Cast iron doesn’t release chemicals into your food like other non-stick cookware can, and it also releases iron into your food, which can be a benefit, as some people have iron deficiency.
To get started, you want to pick the right oil for seasoning. You want a fat that has a high smoke point, such as ghee (clarified butter), butter or lard, or an oil such as coconut or avocado oil. Nut oils also have a high smoke point, such as walnut and almond oil, but I’m not sure how well they would work for this purpose. Avoid unhealthy, processed oils, such as vegetable and corn oils, and skip the olive oil, as it doesn’t have a high smoke point.
I chose organic butter to season my pan. High-quality, grass-fed butter/lard/ghee is the way to go if possible.
Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure your skillet is clean. All you need is hot water and a sponge. Don’t use any soap and don’t let the skillet soak – soaking leads to rust.
I used about 2 tablespoons of butter. You want to make sure the entire surface is well-coated, including the sides. I just used my hands, but you could certainly use a plastic bag or a piece of wax paper to spread the butter or oil around.
To clean your skillet after cooking, you’ll want to wash it out with hot water while the pan is still hot or warm (be careful!). Don’t let it sit too long and don’t soak it, as I mentioned above. Dry the skillet immediately and completely with a towel. You can then add a little healthy oil back to the pan before storing if you want. Wipe off any excess oil (or pop it back into your oven for a couple minutes to dry it out even more).
With a little care-taking, your skillet should last for decades!
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