I’ve written about how much I love cast iron before. I prefer it to ceramic and teflon. I like the weight, the durability, and the price I can pick it up for at garage sales.
I get asked a lot about the cleanliness of cast iron, how hard it is to keep it clean, and how on earth you actually clean it.
Well, I clean the pans with hot water – and if something gets stuck, a little salt rub. That’s it. No dish soap, no scrubby sponges; just hot water, a dish cloth and a bit of salt (sometimes). When I heat up the pan it tends to burn off any bacteria anyway.
But while most people season cast iron pans with everything from animal fat to vegetable shortening, I’ve done some digging and I have come to one of the coolest discoveries of my life.
You can season cast iron with coconut oil.
Why Coconut Oil?
We have a giant article on coconut oil you can read here, but I’m going to pick and choose my favorite reasons for choosing coconut oil to season my frying pans.
- Coconut oil has a high smoke point: This means I can really pack it on when I’m seasoning the pan without worrying about my home being filled with foul smelling smoke to get the perfect, smooth bottom needed for non-stick cast iron.
- Coconut Oil Has Good Fats: People are always concerned that iron is going to leach into your food – which, if you have a properly seasoned pan, isn’t really going to have any detrimental effect on your health. But the seasoning can leech into your food, and those fats (which have a high heat-resistance) are really beneficial.
- Coconut Oil is antibacterial: You can use coconut oil to cure candida overgrowth, and it keeps your pan from being overloaded with bacteria, which may be a concern if you said “ew” to the fact that I won’t use dish soap on my cast iron.
So How Do You Do Season It?
What you’ll need:
- cast iron pan
- coconut oil (cold or room temperature)
- dry cloth/sponge/paper towel
- Heat your oven to 325°.
- Spoon out your coconut oil, drop it in your pan and smooth over the cooking surface with your fingers (I like to chill it before smearing it around). The heat from your fingers will help melt the coconut oil a little bit so you get a really thorough coating. Make sure you get all of the inside of the pan (pay particular attention to the walls!). You can season the bottom if you want too, some people swear by it, but I never do.
- Put your frying pan open side down on top of a cookie sheet (optional, but it catches some of the dripies if you put too much oil in the pan) and put that in the center of your oven.
- Bake for an hour and a half or two hours.
- Turn off your oven and leave the door closed. When your pan has cooled to the point you can touch it barehanded, pull it out!
- If you want to be extra thorough, repeat this process a few times. I feel like 3 is a solid number for getting a good, shiny and thick season on a pan.
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