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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Seasoning Cast Iron cookware

One of my Nephews suggested that I write a piece on the proper way to season cast iron cookware. We do alot of camping and I am fanatic about my Dutch Oven and skillets. I love the way the food taste and the simple cleanup of these. So, here it is. In addition, if you run across some cast iron frying pans (skillet) at a flea market and its rusted up, what I do is build a fire and set it in the coals. After about 15 minutes I pull it out, scrub it down with steel wool (careful not to burn my hands) and then rub it down with fat or raw bacon to season it as below. It will smoke up a kitchen.

This is how to season a dutch oven:
1. Preheat your grill or oven to 350 degrees.
2. If you are using your kitchen oven, wrap a large cookie sheet with a raised edge in aluminum foil and place it on the lowest possible shelf of the oven. This cookie sheet catchs oil that drips from the dutch oven so make sure it is bigger than the diameter of your dutch oven.
3. This will be only time you will ever use soap on your dutch oven! After this, never use soap unless you are stripping your oven to perform a completely new Initial Seasoning. Wash your cookware in soapy hot water. Use a scouring pad or steel wool to scrub away all coatings down to the metal. Remember, after this you don't use soap to clean up.
4. Thoroughly dry the dutch oven and lid with a cotton towel or paper towels. Place it in the grill for a minute or two to really dry it and heat it up a bit. Use an oven mitt to remove the dutch oven from the grill and let it cool just enough so you can touch it.
5. Rub vegetable shortening all over the inside and outside of your dutch oven and its lid. Use plain Crisco or Wesson - do not use butter or butter flavored shortening. Using a paper towel or cotton rag, rub the shortening into all the pockmarks, holes, and dimples in the metal surface.
6. Place the dutch oven upside down in the grill or kitchen oven and close the door or grill lid. By being upside down, the melted shortening will drain out of the dutch oven leaving an even coating rather than a pool in the bottom.
7. Place the lid in the grill also so it bakes along with the dutch oven.
8. Bake the dutch oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Remember to open windows and temporarily disconnect your smoke alarm while doing this. (I open the door and place a fan there)
9. Turn off the grill and leave the dutch oven inside to cool for 15 minutes.
10. Using an oven mitt and paper towels, remove the cookware from the grill.
11. Use paper towels to wipe off excess oil from the inside and outside of the dutch oven and lid.
12. Repeat steps 5 through 9.
13. Allow the cookware to cool until you can pick it up.
14. Wipe off all excess oil with paper or cotton towels and you're ready to go!

Periodic Seasoning:
As you use your dutch oven, the grease, oil, and fat from the food you cook will continue to season the cookware. Some acidic foods such as beans and tomatoes can remove some of the coating. So, frying bacon, deep-frying fish, making doughnuts, or cooking fatty foods will improve the protective layer while acidic foods will harm it. Once seasoned, your dutch oven will most likely not need to be seasoned again (as long as you use it often and clean it correctly). It never hurts to reseason it and some folks like to do that at the start of a cooking season. It also may be necessary to reseason if food seems to be sticking too much or your cookware has been abused or stored incorrectly. If there is rust or the oven just doesn't look well coated, it's a good idea to season it again.

Periodic Seasoning is just like the Initial Seasoning except that you don't wash with soapy water. If there is rust present then you may want to strip down everything and do a complete Initial Seasoning. Otherwise, clean your cookware normally and follow the steps above except for using soap.

The finish on your dutch oven should be dark brown or black, the darker the better. It should be glossy, but not sticky. If it is sticky, you left too much oil on and you'll need to heat it more. Over time, with proper cleaning, this glossy coating will become thicker and stronger. You should notice that foods are easy to remove and clean up is simple.

If we do encounter a SHTF scenerio, cooking outdoors (or over a fire) is easier with cast iron. I use a 12 inch Dutch Oven and can feed 12 people out of it easily.


Original: http://georgiapreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/seasoning-cast-iron-cookware.html