Cast iron is one of the leading and versatile cookware for any kitchen. They are famous for making food with a non-stick and crisp surface, reliable, strong and also everlasting.When people transitioned from cooking over open fires to using camping stoves in the late 1800s, cast iron cookware gained popularity as a workable means of cooking a wide variety of foods.
The category of cast iron cookware includes cast iron grill pans, iron pans, Dutch ovens, cast iron baking pans, and a lot more. They are perfect for braising, baking, pan-frying, broiling, searing, sautéing, and a wide range of other cooking methods. They are generally made using 100% molten iron without any contaminating ingredients, which is why it is preferred by many home cooks as well as professional chefs.
The fact that cast iron pans are a separate class when it comes to flawlessly cooked crispy hash browns or steaks has led to dozens of debates over whether to season them.To get a clear idea, you need to know the difference between seasoned and unseasoned cast iron skillets.
If you don’t know what they are, you won’t be able to differentiate these two skillets. Keep reading to find out the difference between seasoned and unseasoned cast iron.
Difference Between Seasoned Vs. Unseasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Today, the market is full of a wide variety of cast iron skillets, you can either buy iron cookware that has been pre-seasoned by the manufacturer or unseasoned from the beginning. Most cast-iron pans or skillets are pre-seasoned where they have a light protective coating to protect the material. This will reduce the requirement of oil or additional fat to cook food.However, the truth is that they are only lightly seasoned and, also, you don’t know who they are seasoned with.
These pans have a good, sleek black shine & finish. Some manufacturers still manufacture unseasoned cast-iron skillets. These skillets are available in different types of matte grey finish, while pre-seasoned skillets have a sleek, black shine.
One major problem with an unglazed cast iron skillet is that your food will stick to its surface. The surface of the pan may not be heated properly. So, it is advisable to preheat it on medium heat for at least ten to fifteen minutes. A pre-seasoned skillet, on the other hand, requires extra care when it comes to the security of a shiny black base.
Even though cast iron is a skillet generally said to be fairly durable, it is inclined to corrosion and moisture since there is no proper obstacle protecting the cast iron skillet. Moisture in the atmosphere can affect the glare of a pre-seasoned skillet. The solution to this issue is seasoning. Whether buying a pre-seasoned or unseasoned cast iron skillet, you must season it suitably before going to use it. It will give it non-stick capabilities and protect the lustre of your skillet.
The seasoned cast iron skillet or glossy black skillet makes it last longer and enables you to fry food (eggs, fish) that sticks to the base without worry. They will slip right off the base. The fact is that the more seasoned the cast iron skillet, the easier it is to fry or cook in it!
Note: Here, the final word is that you must season both pre-seasoned and unseasoned cast iron skillet to maintain its shine, effectiveness and durability.
About Cast Iron Seasoning
Seasoning means layering over a cast-iron skillet with toughened oil. During the cast seasoning, all you have to do is prepare a layer of carbonated oil on the exterior of the skillet. This layer works as a protective shield. The cast-iron seasoning will make both cooking and clean-up a little easier and it’ll look natural and easy to grow. When working with cast-iron skillets at high temperatures, they change their position from flowing wet to a hot, slick state in terms of heat oils and fats. The whole process is known as polymerization.
This way you’ll produce a spotless coating of seasoning that is molecularly added to the cast iron.The reason behind seasoning is to provide a protective layer on a cast-iron skillet that will rust or rot due to the oxygen and moisture in the atmosphere. The seasoning only works on cast-iron skillets since it has an uneven and naturally sharp surface. This texture provides more surface area for the iron to bond and stand by to the carbonated oil.
What methods are used to season a Cast-Iron Skillet?
An unseasoned cast-iron skilled should season in the oven. Apart from that, you can cook a dish in a large batch that requires plenty of oil in your skillet. Dishes and food that require deep-frying reduce a lot of fat. The food includes bacon is the best companion of a cast-iron skillet. Whenever you work with oil and fat, you are unknowingly seasoning your skillet with them. By following two ways, you can maintain the seasoning of your cast-iron skillet. First, use it for regular cooking allowing the oil to add another layer of seasoning to your skillet. The more oily food it has to make, the more this layer will be firm on its non-stick coating. Second, you can cook in an oven using your skillet. Most cast-iron enthusiasts often preferred this way of seasoning. Seasoning your cast iron in the oven creates an all-over layer of hardened oil on your skillet. It is the most ideal way to restore a rusty pre-seasoned skillet or season an unseasoned cast-iron skillet. Keep reading to know how to season a cast-iron skillet.
- Wash Skillet Thoroughly
There is a belief that soap should never be washed or used to clean a cast-iron skillet, but this is not entirely true, especially if you are about to re-season your skillet. It is advisable to use a minimal amount of soapy water to clean the skillet. This solution will allow eliminating crusty bits of rust and any food that remains from the base of your skillet. Gentle cleaning will maintain the coating last and smooth. In the case of rusty coating, always use steel wool to scrub to remove the red paint from the inside and outside of your skillet. This way you’ll wash the pan without damaging the seasoning of the skillet. Keep in mind, not to put it in the dishwasher.
- Dry Skillet Thoroughly
The second step to follow is to dry your pan as soon as possible. The reason behind quick drying is to prevent water droplets from getting in the way of smooth seasoning. To dry your skillet, use a paper towel or a lint-free cloth. Moreover, it should be put on the stovetop on low flame to vaporize all the drops of water from it.
- Spread Oil On its Surface
The next step to follow is to add a layer of cooking oil to the surface of your cast iron skillet. To season a cast-iron skillet, canola oil is commonly used. Alternatively, you can use vegetable or corn oil. Although you can use any oil to season your wok, the above oils are much better since they have a high burn point. Using oil with low smoke properties at a high degree temperature will fill your oven with smoke. To prevent this problem, you should have vegetable or canola oil as they will be able to tolerate the heat without releasing smoke. Furthermore, you need to create a thin layer of oil on the base of your skillet by using a lint-free cloth or paper towel. The entire surface, including the outside and inside, should be covered. Keep rubbing the oil in until the skillet feels very smooth. Don’t do rush because using too much oil will not season your skillet. Otherwise, the process will end up with stiff drops of polymerized oil on it.
- Give Even-Heat by using Oven
Heating isn’t possible with a stovetop, so you need to drip your skillet in the oven. Firstly, you need to preheat the oven to 350-450 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes. To catch any additional oil, place aluminum foil on the lowermost of your oven. Place your skillet upside down on the middle rack of your preheated oven, so that it will prevent the oil from merging on the cooking base. Don’t leave your skillet in the oven for more than half an hour. Once it is done, let the skillet cool down to enable seasoning to stick to the iron. To add a soil layer of seasoning, repeat the oiling and heating procedure. This is the perfect way to fix an exhausted skillet.
Tips to take care of Cast Iron Seasoning:
- For lightly seasoning, heat it on the stovetop for 5 to 10 minutes or until evenly heated.
- Don’t forget to clean your skillet after each use.
- Regularly cooking in your skillet is good to save its durability and seasoning.
A cast-iron pan that has been covered with hard oil to provide layers of protection that make cleaning and cooking much easier is seasoned cast iron.On the other hand, unseasoned cast iron looks rough unless it is properly seasoned.
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Hi, my name is Ashley Robinson. I’m a food blogger and a part time chef in Food & Drink Junction, Denver. With my blog I’m sharing information & tutorials about different kinds of cooking pans.