AUSFONTE CAST IRON PAN CAREThere is nothing better than bare cast iron when it comes to high temperature searing, frying and browning, through to slow, even braising. Best of all, you can have a pan that’s corrosion-resistant and almost as non-stick as any, while avoiding questionable synthetic coatings.
These pans are also the toughest, lasting for centuries.
But is well-seasoned cast iron as nonstick as Teflon? No.....but it is certainly very low-stick, and has far more important cooking and health benefits. So why would you cook on, and regularly dispose of, synthetic-coated pans, with all their health concerns, just for a little extra slipperiness and slightly lower maintenance? Once you know about seasoned cast iron, you wouldn't. But what is this dark art called ‘seasoning’? It’s really easy, once you know how…
Australian-made AUSfonte(TM) cast iron pans come ‘pre-seasoned’, meaning we have already applied a light coating of food-safe vegetable oil and heat-cured it at the foundry to avoid corrosion and get you started on the path to well-seasoned cooking bliss. There are two schools of thought for what comes next:
Option 1: EASY, AND OKAY: The way it’s been done by most cooks, for hundreds of years, is to rinse and start cooking right away, patiently waiting for the seasoning to improve over time with normal cooking. And it will, with the right cleaning maintenance (more on that below under 'Well-kept'). Regular cooking can be supplemented with the occasional heating of pan on stove top with thin layer of oil wiped on after cleaning, on very high heat until it smokes and the pan turns black. It's smoky and not ideal, but it is a common method.
Option 2: HARDER, AND BEST: Conscientious cooks may want to put in a little work upfront to establish a really dark, tough, deep seasoning by first running the pan through 3-6 seasoning cycles like this:
Note: only do this if you have a well-ventilated kitchen (windows open and good air flow).
1. Rinse out pan with hot water and dry completely with a towel on a medium-hot stove. For best results, pre-heat pan to around 90C (200F) before applying oil, to help it seep deeper into the cast iron pores.
2. Use a food grade oil with high iodine count, preferably flaxseed oil (for least smoke and best hard lacquer coating), or rice bran oil, soy bean oil, sunflower oil. (Important note: best oils for seasoning are not always good oils for cooking and vice-versa....see links at bottom.)
3. Rub the oil lightly all over the whole pan with a clean lint-free cotton cloth (paper towels can leave paper specks and synthetics can melt), leaving only a very thin layer. Then wipe out again so that there is no visible oil: only a sheen. Excess oil doesn’t improve the seasoning: it can lead to sticky residue, spattering of your oven and excess smoke, and a weak seasoning layer that sticks food and peels away.
4. Place in oven upside-down and heat at maximum for at least one hour for flaxseed oil, and 1.5-2 hours for others listed above. Switch off oven and allow pan and oven to cool partially for an hour before opening the door. With a glove/cloth, remove pan and wipe on next seasoning layer while pan is till warm. Repeat until you can't stand it any longer!
If you are unsure of the above, please don't attempt more pre-seasoning at home. Commence cooking normally on your pre-seasoned pan, following the ‘Well Kept’ cleaning and care instructions below to avoid rust and allow your pan to build up its seasoning naturally over time. It will take longer, but if well matained it will become low-stick and low-maintenance.
Note: ensure you have plenty of airflow through the kitchen, and leave oven door closed until it cools down a little; it can get a little smoky if you use too much oil…
The more you use your pan, the better the seasoning layer will become. We recommend following these easy steps for maintenance:
· If you have just cooked with oil, you can simply wipe out the pan with a paper towel. The thin residue of oil will be enough to condition the pan for next time.
Along with a pan that will last centuries, you now have a forever renewable nonstick pan, without the synthetic coatings!