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Why is there such an obsession with instant perfect seasoning on cast iron? It takes time and use!

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Why is there such an obsession with instant perfect seasoning on cast iron? It takes time and use!

jljohn | Mar 20, 2012 09:38 AM

I write this post fully recognizing that I too have been guilty of this from time-to-time, but why is there such hand-wringing and agonizing about achieving perfect instantaneous seasoning on cast iron (CI)?

I am no cast iron historian, but I do know that many of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents used CI for decades, and I know my ancestors (at least for a few generations) didn't sweat the seasoning process. I still remember learning about CI when I was a kid. Several folks--all of them decades older then me--told me the same exact thing on various occasions. "Wipe your new cast iron down with shortening, cook it in the oven for a few hours, and use it. It'll get better every time you use it. Oh, and don't use too much soap if possible, and grease it if you're not going to use it for a while."

So, for those of us who tend to be overly concerned about the perfection of such things as seasoning on our CI skillets, let's remember a couple of things. Seasoning cast iron really is a simple process, and the biggest ingredient is time. Don't look at it and worry about it every time you use the it. Just use it, clean it, dry it, put it away, and repeat. Someday (years from now), someone will look at your skillet and say 'Man, you have a great seasoning on that thing." Remember that one of the primary reasons 100 year old CI skillets has such a tremendous market is that they have decades of use built into them. If you really need a wonderfully seasoned pan soon, you have two options: buy an old one, or use yours every day, several times every day if possible. And if you'll allow me, I'll add one more. Your CI will take on a special importance to you because of the time and use. I have 3 CI skillets (8", 10" and 12"). My wife and I purchased the 8" skillet the week we got back from our honeymoon and have used it ever since. It is not the most used pan we own by any stretch, but because 13 years of married life are somehow cooked into that skillet, I would sooner part with one of my copper pans than that little skillet.

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