Cast-iron cookware has been the touchstone of Southern food and hospitality for generations, creating perfectly fried chicken and cornbread so crisp you can hear it crackle when cut. No kitchen south of the Mason-Dixon Line would be complete without it. “Seasoning” is the process of oiling and heating cast iron to protect its porous surface from moisture. The oil is absorbed, creating a rustproof nonstick surface, which means your food will cook evenly and your skillet will have a beautiful sheen. Here’s how to season yours:
1. Rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly. (Never use dish soap or harsh detergents on cast-iron)
2. Spread a thin layer of solid shortening or vegetable oil over both the interior and exterior surfaces of the cookware, including the handle and the underside of any lids.
3. Place the cookware upside down on a rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Turn off the oven, leaving the door closed, and allow the cookware to cool completely before removing.
4. You will need to repeat the procedure several times to darken the color of the cookware from brown to black, but it’s ready to use after this first seasoning. Once seasoned, never use harsh detergents to clean it or put it in the dishwasher. Wash with a stiff brush under hot running water; dry immediately, and rub with a thin coating of vegetable oil. Store in a cool, dry place with a folded paper towel between the lid and the cookware to allow the air to circulate and prevent rust.
Click the video below to see how simple it is to season a cast-iron skillet: