So, after holidays, you gotta take stock of your kitchen equipment to prepare for future endeavors. One thing I cannot stress enough, is to take care of your pots/pans. If you have cast iron pots – you must take care of them, as they will last you a lifetime (literally!) if you do. First and foremost, you must make sure that your cast iron is “seasoned” – meaning, that the pores have been opened with heat so that oil can get inside and provide a sheen (the pros call it “patina”) that will keep your food from sticking to the pot. Over time, with constant use and care, this patina will become almost non-stick. While I endorse non-stick pots and pans in a pinch, I am a witness that nothing sticks to well-seasoned cast iron. To wit – my paternal grandmother, before she passed, wanted us all to have something from her kitchen that we would use in remembrance of her. So I got lucky and found myself in possession of an 7-inch Griswold cast iron skillet. Believe me when I tell you, it’s the slickest pan I have ever used. From cornbread to stir-fry to cheese eggs, NOTHING sticks to it. I asked my grandmother how long she’d had it, and she said that she’d had it since she was 19, as she got it from her mother. My grandmother left us at the tender age of 93. You do the math on how long that pan has been around. Hashtag, lifetime.
So, how does one keep it seasoned, you ask? It’s simple. First, heat your oven to the almighty 350 degrees Fahrenheit/177 degrees Celsius. While you wait for the oven to heat, cover your pan very liberally with the seasoning oil of your choice. You can use canola oil if you like, and no one will be angry because it’s super-available, BUT…it doesn’t have a very high smoke point, and you will get some smoke all over your kitchen if you’re not careful. My personal choice is avocado oil, because it has the highest smoke point that I personally know of (550 degrees Fahrenheit/288 degrees Celsius) and you can leave it in the oven for seasoning longer. That said – once your oven has sufficiently heated, place your pan inside and let it bake for at least 30 minutes. Remove, and coat again with more oil, maybe just a tablespoon – you’ll actually be able to see the pan getting slicker, if you look closely enough. Repeat this process, but this time, flip the pan upside down. Remove and let the pan cool on a trivet or a safe surface. In a little over 2 hours, you will have a very slick cast-iron skillet for cooking anything. Now, I can’t promise that yours will look like this – but, you haven’t had yours for 70-plus years, either, so don’t feel bad. Enjoy!