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Nothing compares to a well-seasoned cast iron skillet when you’re in the kitchen searing a steak, browning a blueberry cornbread, or sautéing Jersey Fresh produce you’ve frozen or canned from our farms.

But before you get cooking with new cast iron cookware from Christmas, there a few things to know and a few things to do.

Countless forums and cooking blogs claim the best methods for seasoning cast iron with myriad oils and fats. Some say Crisco, some say lard—some swear by bacon drippings or EVOO. But who’s to know?

Here’s what we’ve found to be the best methods for seasoning and caring for cast iron.

Seasoning a Skillet
The coating in cast iron formed after seasoning a skillet or pan occurs during fat polymerization. Now, you don’t need to know or even care what that means—all you need is some patience and an edible drying oil, like Flaxseed, and you’ll be cooking in no time.

To open up the pores in the iron, heat the pan at 200°F before coating with oil. Once cool and dry, douse with flaxseed oil, and use your hands to fairly distribute so all sides are evenly coated.

Next thing? Wipe it out. Every ounce. Using a cotton cloth or paper towels, wipe off all the oil so there isn’t a sheen or slick of flaxseed left in the pan. The residue that’s left will be enough to season the iron.

Place the pan upside down in the oven and raise the temperature to 450°F to 500°F, allowing the pan to preheat with the oven. After one hour, turn off the oven—but don’t open the door. Let it sit upside down on the rack for two hours before removing from the oven.

Here comes the part with your patience. All that time, and you’re only one coat in! A well-seasoned skillet will need between five and six coats for optimal cooking.
Take a few hours each day to season your skillet, pan, or griddle—and this time next week, you’ll be ready to serve up and sauté all those canned goods from Muzzarelli Farms.

Cleaning Your Cast Iron
So, you’ve seasoned your skillet, prepared a great meal, and you’re unsure of cleaning your cast iron. There are certain steps to take to preserve the life of your seasoning. This cookware isn’t a pot, or a wok, or a griddle you can scrub in the sink with some Palmolive.

Let’s start with what not to do: no soap, no steel wool, and no wash in the Bosch. Leave the dishwasher for forks and for pie plates.

What you will want to do is clean as soon after use as you can. Use a stiff brush or sponge to massage away residue or scrub off morsels of food, and avoid soaking in the sink, as the iron is prone to rust.

Thoroughly towel-dry after cleaning, and store in a place that is dry.

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