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Seasoning cast iron cookware is one of the best practices to give your cookware a beautiful and classic patina. However, people hold varying opinions on which oil to use for seasoning. Can you season cast iron with olive oil?
Do not use olive oil to season your cast iron pan. Seasoning requires oils with a high smoke point while olive has a low smoke point. Olive oils are very healthy and best for cooking purposes only.
For effectiveness, while seasoning your cast iron skillet, you ought to use the right oils. Keep reading to understand the science behind seasoning and why you should not use olive oil. Besides, we have suggestions for the best oils for seasoning and tips to help you season a cast-iron pan in the right way.
What is a seasoning?
It is the process of treating surfaces of cookware pieces using heated fats to enhance a stick-resistant and corrosion-free coating.
Seasoning entails a process known as polymerization. Heat cause fats to react and form polymers which are larger molecules. As a result, there is a production of free radicals that cross-link to make a thick layer on the cookware surfaces. However, it would help if you baked your pan to enhance the results and your oils have to reach a certain smoking point.
The chemistry behind seasoning simply involves changing the molecular structure of oils by heat on the surface of the cast-iron pan. The final results make your skillet non-stick, giving it a comfortable, and natural cooking surface and prevents it from rusting.
What is the Smoking Point of Oils?
The smoke point of oils represents the temperatures at which oils seize shimmering, and smoking starts. It is also known as the burning point of the oil. Low points start at 325F, and high points stand at 520F.
Why is oil smoke point so important while seasoning? Seasoning requires high temperatures; hence it needs you to use oils with a high smoking point. After the oil has reached its smoking point, fatty acids are released through a smoke.
While seasoning, oils with a higher smoking point will give the best results. When such oils are baked above their smoking point, it triggers the release of free radicals on the pan’s surface and binds with iron to form a thick coating.
Why is Olive Oil Not the Best for Seasoning Cast Iron Pan?
The average smoking point of olive is at 325-375F, which is low compared to an oil such as Soybean Oil, which is at 450F. The low smoking point makes olive oil burn so efficiently and produces a bad flavor on your food while cooking with the skillet after seasoning. Moreover, the higher the temperatures you heat a skillet, the better the seasoning.
However, you can use olive oil but expect less effective results. What is the drawback of using olive oil to season cast iron pans? When a pan seasoned with olive oil is exposed heated beyond the smoking point, the oil layer easily wears off, making the pan sticky. Do you want to cook on a sticky skillet and burn food?
If the only option you have is to season your cast iron with olive oil, then choose specific types of olive oils. Redefined or Light Olive oil is the best to use. Why? It has a high smoking point of 465F; hence you will not experience the above-highlighted issues after seasoning. Using the ordinary olive is not the best choice, and it will require you to season your cast ion pan repeatedly due to the ineffective results of seasoning.
Which are the Best Oils for Seasoning Cast-Iron Skillet?
Now that seasoning your cast iron pan with olive oil is not the best choice, what should you use? This question sets a lot of debate since olive oil is the most common and readily available oil in many households. Dry oils are the best since their smoking point is high and form a strong bond with cast-iron skillet surfaces.
Below are some of our suggestions for the best oils to use for seasoning cast iron pans.
Grape Seed Oil
Grape seed oil meets all the requirements of a quality seasoning oil. It has a high smoking point at 420 F and can nearly season any pan. Besides, it has a low saturation of fats, which enhances its durability after seasoning. Its high polyunsaturated fats enhance the cross-linking process hence forming a durable and thick coat.
Do you want something organic with a neutral odor and taste? Use grape seed oil for a healthy seasoning that won’t affect your cooking.
You will never go wrong with a well redefined and high oleic soybean oil. It has a high smoking point of 450 F.
Being profoundly redefined makes it very healthy, and its also free of synthetic chemicals. Besides, it enhances the polymerization process to form a durable coat on iron after seasoning.
Rapeseed Oil (Canola)
Its smoking point is as high as 400 F and has proved to be a top choice for seasoning. The unique thing about Canola Oil is that it’s the best for seasoning cast iron skillets that are to be stored for more extended periods.
It also dries up very quickly, forming a thick and durable layer on the iron pan’s surface. The only minor setback of canola oil is that it produces a pungent smell while applying on your pan’s surfaces.
Flax Seed Oil
Flax seed oil does better when used for seasoning despite its low smoking point of 225 F. The fact that it dries very quickly and naturally makes it suitable for seasoning cast iron skillet.
It forms a durable coat on an iron’s surface after seasoning. It is useful and even improves your non-stick feature on the pan.
However, using a low-quality flax seed oil will give you frustrating and poor results. You opt for organic flaxseed oil that does not contain any additives, other oils or flavors.
Which is the Best Way to Season Cast-iron Pan?
When you have that quality oil for seasoning, you follow the right procedure to achieve the best results. A sufficient seasoning should give your pan a strong and durable layer.
There are quick ways to season your pan. Below are 2 of the best ways.
1. Season a Pan by Baking in an Oven
- Pour the oil of your choice into a clean, dry skillet and smoothly smear all over the surface. Ensure that all the surfaces, including the rims, are evenly covered by oil.
- Preheat the oven at 350 F before you take in your skillet.
- After the oven is heated, bake your skillet for about an hour until its surfaces are even heated.
- Safely remove the pan from the oven for cooling
- After it cold, use a clean and soft piece of cloth to wipe off excess oils.
- You may use the skillet or store it.
2. Season a Pan by Cooking on a Stovetop
- Pour oil into a clean, dry pan and rub it evenly all over the surface of the pan.
- Then switch on the fame to medium-high
- Put the pan on the stove and let it cook until you see smoke. It should be less than a half-hour.
- Allow the pan to cool down
- Finally, use a soft clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off excess oil on the surface
- It’s ready for use or storage.
Tips for Maintaining a Well-Seasoned Cast Iron
After you have seasoned your cast-iron skillet, you should take care of the coating. It eliminates the hassle of seasoning your skillet every time you use it. Below are essential tips to help you.
- Do not cook highly acidic food using seasoned skillets. Foods like tomatoes have a high acidic concentration that may react with your coat and triggers the breaking of the seasoned layer. It might also affect the flavor of your food.
- Avoid using soaking your seasoned pan in water and scouring pad. It will gradually weaken the coat while the scoring pad make your pad wear out quickly.
- Avoid using metal spatulas as they scratch the surface of the pan that easily make the coat wear out.
- Invest in high-quality seasoning oil for the effective seasoning and durable coat.
- After seasoning ensure that you evenly wipe off all of the excess oils on the surfaces of the skillet. It helps eliminates any stickiness while cooking.
Seasoning your cookware is very important for the best experience while cooking. However, if you season cast-iron with olive oil, you probably expect a weak coat on your pan. Other high-quality oils are more useful for seasoning. Also, follow the right procedure while seasoning, as discussed above. A well-seasoned enhances an impressive look and helps you cook with ease.
Enjoy your seasoning cast iron pans!
Hi ! this is Flavio Zbinden I am French/Swiss cookware reviewer that was born in Asia.
I had an interest in the culinary arts from a young age while watching my grandma prepare cakes and tarts in her home kitchen.
However, I only played my hand at exploring the culinary world when I started lending a hand to my mother with the daily kitchen chores.
I jumped at the chance to cook, clean, and set the table every time my mother would ask. Aside from my grandma and mother, another big influence in my culinary venture was my dad. An avid geeky chef in his free time and a chemical engineer by profession.
Influenced by my family who were always keen in the kitchen, I carried my passion for cooking into adulthood. I have always had a curious eye on different cultures and their cuisines.
Through my exploration of several countries, I learned the uses of various kitchen cookware and the benefits of using them to prepare different dishes. With that knowledge embedded in my mind, I ventured out to nit-pick my very own cookware selections in the market…