Those of us who love to cook with cast iron know how important it is to have well-seasoned pans. Seasoning keeps the surface of cast iron shiny and smooth and it prevents rusting and sticking, sort of like using a non-stick pan only without the toxic chemicals. In the old days, when you bought cast iron, you had to take it home and season it yourself. You’d likely have to do this a few times to get the desired result. It was a work in progress, but it was worth it. Grandmas and Grandpas would get out the butter, the lard or the tallow and season away. Those were the good old days when stable, saturated fats were more commonly used.
These days, cast iron is sold pre-seasoned, typically with volatile, liquid oils high in polyunsaturated fat like soybean, corn, canola, cottonseed and even the nebulous “vegetable oil”. When exposed to light and heat – especially high cooking temperatures – they easily deteriorate, breaking down into toxic, oxidized compounds. Although fats and oil are blends of different fatty acids, with few exceptions, those highest in saturated fats are preferable for seasoning cast iron since they remain stable at higher cooking temperatures. Ghee, being about 65% saturated and only about 5% polyunsaturated is the perfect choice.
To season your cast iron with ghee, follow along with these easy steps:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Give your entire skillet, front to back, top to bottom, handle included, a good scrubbing with warm soapy water and a steel wool pad. Rinse well with hot water then thoroughly towel dry.
Set skillet over med-high heat on your stovetop. Melt about a tablespoon of ghee, swirling the pan to spread the ghee.
Rub the ghee all over the entire pan with paper towels. Once completely coated, use more paper towel to rub off the excess ghee. Remember, cast iron is porous so it’s going to absorb some of the melted ghee.
Put the skillet on a center rack, face down. Let it bake for an hour then turn off the oven leaving the skillet inside until it cools.
Enjoy your shiny “new” pan.
Always pre-heat cast iron for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add stable fat or oil such as grass-fed organic ghee or refined organic coconut oil. Consider using a jar of older ghee that may have lost its flavor and aroma. Heat for another minute or so before adding food.
Wash your pan in water with a scrubbing sponge to remove all food particles. Dry thoroughly with a towel or by heating the pan on the stovetop until all the water evaporates. Once dry, spread a small amount of ghee over the inside bottom and sides.