How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

I love our cast iron skillet.  In theory, this is a piece of cookware that lasts a lifetime. 

However, we are guilty (my husband more than myself) of washing it with soap AND soaking it in water, two cardinal sins of cast iron care.  I don't think Mr A can deal with the paradigm shift involved in "unwashing".

After 5 years, the time has come to give my cast iron some much needed TLC.  There are so many ways to do it and most of them will work.  This is what I did.

Clean all the crud, food, rust, baked on goodness and whatever else off the pan.  I used a Japanese stainless steel sponge.  Here is a perfect time to use soap!  I also used some baking soda because ours had seriously caked on goo.

First, let the pan dry thoroughly.  Some suggested baking it with table salt to draw out the impurities, but I didn't get that high tech.  Then, thickly coat the pan - inside, outside, handle, everything - with some kind of oil.  You  can use liquid vegetable oil (I did the first time when this baby was fresh out the box), bacon lard, or shortening.  I used good ole Crisco. 

Line the bottom rack with foil (just in case) and put the coated pan in the center, upside down.  Bake for about 20min at 275-300 degrees.  Turn it right side up and continue to bake it for another hour.  You'll want to have it in there for 3-4 hours total, so the grease can really cook into it.  Every hour or so, carefully remove the pan from the oven and recoat it using a paper towel. 

And that's it!  Its going to smell kind of funky, but it shouldn't smoke.  If it's smoking, that means there is too much oil.  Just drain out the excess and throw it back in there. 

My skillet feels so loved now.  Just like a loved husband, he now makes tastier food, is nicer to look at, and isn't holding onto everything just to spite me! 

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