HOW TO SEASON CARBON STEEL PAN

Posted on 09/19/2023 by: Bearcookware follow: 100

HOW TO SEASON CARBON STEEL PAN

(5 EASY STEPS)

SEASONING: WHAT AND WHY?

Before we get into the guide, let’s get a few things out of the way.

For starters, seasoning isn’t some type of flavor built up over the years on carbon steel pan sets. Rather, it’s a thin layer of oil (or, better yet, several layers) that has been treated and transformed into an even protective coating. Cast iron pans and cast iron skillets are also seasoned. You’ll easily see if your pan is seasoned if it looks dark brown (instead of light gray).

Secondly, this protective coating is extremely important when you’re cooking with carbon steel pans. It protects your cookware from getting rusted when it gets wet or humid. If it weren’t there, you wouldn’t be able to use your carbon steel pan sets. Plus, the seasoning makes your pots and pans non-stick, meaning your food won’t burn to the bottom as easily—and that you can clean your cookware with very little effort. It's perfect for making a stir fry. (If you've always wanted a nonstick stainless steel pan but didn't like the poor heat retention, this is an excellent alternative).

HOW TO SEASON CARBON STEEL PAN SETS (5 EASY STEPS)

December 4, 2020 by Ligia Lugo 1 Comment

If you’ve landed on this page, you’re either eyeing a carbon steel pan or already have one and want to know how to keep it in perfect shape. Luckily, this chef-favorite type of pan is a breeze to care for—and seasoning it isn’t as nearly as hard as seasoning a cast-iron skillet.

Today, I’m going to tell you my tried-and-true steps for how to season carbon steel pan sets. Trust me, it’s worth going the extra mile here.

SEASONING: WHAT AND WHY?

Before we get into the guide, let’s get a few things out of the way.

For starters, seasoning isn’t some type of flavor built up over the years on carbon steel pan sets. Rather, it’s a thin layer of oil (or, better yet, several layers) that has been treated and transformed into an even protective coating. Cast iron pans and cast iron skillets are also seasoned. You’ll easily see if your pan is seasoned if it looks dark brown (instead of light gray).

Secondly, this protective coating is extremely important when you’re cooking with carbon steel pans. It protects your cookware from getting rusted when it gets wet or humid. If it weren’t there, you wouldn’t be able to use your carbon steel pan sets. Plus, the seasoning makes your pots and pans non-stick, meaning your food won’t burn to the bottom as easily—and that you can clean your cookware with very little effort. It's perfect for making a stir fry. (If you've always wanted a nonstick stainless steel pan but didn't like the poor heat retention, this is an excellent alternative).

See how useful seasoning a carbon steel pan is? Let’s look at how you can create your protective layers at home

STEP 1: CLEAN YOUR CARBON STEEL PAN

Step one is obviously very important. If you haven’t used your new carbon steel pan yet, look at the box it came in. Does it say the pan comes pre-seasoned? If it does, you can use it right away for a while until it’s time to reseason it. (Keep reading until the end of this article to know when you need to reapply the protective layer).

Yet, if your new carbon steel pan doesn’t come already seasoned, you’ll need to wash it with hot water and a steel wool sponge before we move on to the next steps. Make sure to also make a mixture with dish soap. That’s because manufacturers apply a wax coating to the surface of their pans before they send it out. As you can probably guess, this layer protects your precious cookware from rust in the warehouse and during shipping. Washing it off with soapy water is a must.

STEP 2: START HEATING UP THE PAN

Once that’s done, there are two ways of seasoning your pan you'll have to choose from: either follow the oven method or the stovetop method. In other words, you’ll have to heat the pan in the oven or on a gas stove. Which one you choose is entirely up to you. Just keep in mind that following the oven method will take significantly longer and you may have a harder time getting rid of the smoke in your kitchen. Moreover, not every pan has an oven-safe handle, so make sure yours does if you want to use the oven.

STEP 3: APPLY A LAYER OF OIL LIGHTLY

As your pan heats, get old dishcloths you don’t mind getting ruined. You can also use a paper towel or two if you prefer.

Then, pour a small amount of a neutral oil with a high smoking point on it. In other words, the oil should have no flavor and should only burn at high temperatures. The best for the job are vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, refined sunflower oil, canola oil, and grapeseed oil. I do not recommend using avocado oil, peanut oil, coconut oil, olive oil, butter, vegetable shortening, lard, or flax seed oil—all for a variety of reasons, as they won’t get you the smooth and consistent season layer you want.

STEP 4: BURN THE OIL LAYER

Now, if you’re using the gas stove method, turn it up to high heat. Let the pan sit in the center of the gas burner. Make sure the heat is reaching every part of your pan evenly. If your burner is small in area, you may have to move the pan around (while wearing your oven mitts!) every once in a while to get a consistent layer.

STEP 5: CHECK THE LAYERS AND REPEAT THE PROCESS

Once the first layer is perfectly burnt into the pan, it’s time to check if you’ve done a good job. Let the pan cool completely to room temperature and run your fingers through the surface of the pan. Do you feel any bumps? Does the layer feel thicker in some areas than in others? If your answer to these questions is yes, you’ll need to undo all the work you had and try again. I know it’s frustrating, but as you get more practice, your seasoning seal will get more even!

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