The Seasoning Guide Part 1

November 8, 2019

Let’s discuss the number one thing that we talk with people about here at Smithey: Seasoning.  

A quick Google search yields more articles and videos than one could ever digest on this topic. As a matter of fact, when you search for cast iron, you get just as many results on seasoning as you do on the cookware itself.

We’ve heard from customers who swear by one technique, and then talk to another cast iron aficionado not ten minutes later who swears by something completely different. And here’s the thing, both can be right.

 

At its core, seasoning is the process of creating a thin layer of oil that, when heated to an appropriate temperature, cures over the surface of your cast iron cookware. Like a layer of paint over your house, seasoning protects your cast iron cookware from the elements and enhances its naturally non-stick surface.  

Seasoning is an evolution. What you see when you open your Smithey for the first time will be completely different than what YOUR Smithey looks like after a week of use, which will evolve again after a year of use. And that’s what makes it YOURS.

As you cook, your Smithey will begin to develop a more mature (darker) seasoning layer. This change doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t necessarily happen uniformly all at once. Not to worry, however; this won’t affect the performance of your cookware in any way.  

To show you what we mean, we’ve illustrated how your seasoning layer matures with the simple equation below… But first, a quick bit of science behind the process. All seasoning methods follow a basic equation: heat+fat=seasoning. Furthermore, this process (also known as polymerization) happens naturally as you cook with your Smithey. Baking and frying with your cookware is also a great way to speed up seasoning.  

One major misconception we often hear from our friends in the Smithey community is that seasoning needs to be built up in thick layers. Not true. A polished cast iron skillet, such as a Smithey, requires only a thin layer of seasoning. We stress this key element of a thin layer because too much oil can create a gummy or uneven surface that has a tendency to pool or flake when cooking. A thin layer of coating is also much less prone to chipping or flaking over time as a thick or textured layer would be.  

We don’t feel strongly about the type of oil that you should use to season your cookware with, we use grape seed here at Smithey HQ. However, a variety of oils may be used or even lard. We do recommend steering you away from fats with a lower smoke point however like butter or olive oil. The bottom line is this: Seasoning cast iron shouldn’t be intimidating, and any missteps can be easily corrected.

Below are a few of our favorite dedicated seasoning methods. This isn’t an all-inclusive list by any means. No two seasoning methods are the same, just like no two Smitheys are the same—which is what we’ve always loved about cast iron in the first place. Your Smithey will be unique to you and your family. Use it well.

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