TO SEASON A NEW BLACK POT
For many people, the only cast iron they own is a favorite skillet
or treasured pan that has been passed down from one generation to
the next. These wonderfully aged pieces already have the smooth
black patina that gives cast iron its unique cooking surface. But
cast iron doesn’t come with that look, and new users need
to know how to "season" their new pieces.
Seasoning, the process whereby the pores in cast iron absorb oil
and create a natural non-stick finish, is not complicated and shouldn’t
discourage first-time cast iron users.
- In order to start the process, wash, rinse and thoroughly dry
the new skillet or dutch oven to remove the protective wax coating.
I recommend drying the utensil over a low flame to remove all
moisture from the porous metal, 2-3 minutes.
- Put two tablespoons of liquid vegetable oil in the utensil.
Do not use saturated fat, such as butter or bacon fat, because
this fat will become rancid during storage. Use a paper towel
to coat the entire surface of the utensil with the oil, inside
and out -- including all corners, edges and lids.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Line a large baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the utensils on the sheet, with the pot upside down and the lid right side up, to prevent the oil building up in the concave areas.
- Bake the utensils for 1 hour, turn off the heat and allow the
skillet or dutch oven to cool completely in the oven with the
door closed, 4-6 hours.
- Remove from oven and wipe with a paper towel. This completes
the seasoning process, and you are ready to use your nicely seasoned
cast iron skillet.
In addition to seasoning, the general care of cast iron is also
important. By following these easy steps, you can ensure your cast
iron pieces will be around to serve you for a long time to come.
- Always wash with a mild detergent, rinse and dry thoroughly.
I recommend placing a thoroughly rinsed utensil over heat or flame,
2-3 minutes, to remove any moisture from the porous metal. Never
scour or use a dishwasher. (You may use a plastic bun to remove
stubborn food particles).
- Cook food with little water content the first few times. Avoid
cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes, unless combined with other
food. Uncover hot food as you remove from the heat, because steam
may remove the protective coating.
- Rust, a metallic taste or discolored foods are signs of improper
or inadequate seasoning. If this occurs, wash thoroughly and re-season.
- Since cast iron heats evenly, it is not necessary to use extremely
high cooking temperatures. Best results are obtained with medium
to medium-to-high temperature settings. Do not overheat or leave
empty utensil on the burner. Never place the utensil on an already
heated burner; rather, allow the utensil to heat as the burner
- Always store cast iron utensils with tops or lids off so moisture
won’t collect inside. Store in a warm, dry place. A paper
towel placed inside the utensil will absorb any moisture and prevent
That black finish that good cooks covet will develop over time,
providing years of good cooking and creating a new heirloom for
HOW TO CLEAN AN OLD BLACK POT
Extensive use of a cast iron pot will cause a crust to build up
on the inside and outside of the pot. No amount of washing will
prevent this build-up.
To clean follow this procedure:
- Wash pot as normal.
- Place empty pot in an open fire, fireplace, wood heater or in
- Allow pot to cook until the residue is burned away.
- HANDLE CAREFULLY - remove from the fire and set aside, allowing
slow cooling until the pot is cool enough to hold.
- Use moist sand and cloth to scrub the inside and outside of
- Season as you would a new pot.
- Your 20-year-old pot will look the same as when it was new.
Follow the same general care procedures.