Healthy Diet

How to HEALTHILY Season Vintage Cast Iron Skillets + Pretty Things

How to HEALTHILY Season Vintage Cast Iron Skillets + Why they are so FABULOUS + Pretty Things

Momma and Baby Vintage Skillets
Momma and Baby Vintage Skillets

Here’s something to look for: vintage Griswold from Erie PA:

Momma & Baby Skillet Pedigree
Momma & Baby Skillet Pedigree

I am in love with my vintage cast iron skillets.  It all started a while back when a fashionista foodie pal introduced me to cast iron cooking and showed me how to get rolling with it. Ever since the day when I foraged up the perfect vintage skillet team the girls have become my treasured kitchen workhorses.

Truth be told, the hunt for the best skillets was a quite a thrill for me, but then again I am a cook and glassware vintage shopping dork if you ever saw one.  I can wander for hours looking at things like: 

O.M.Gorgeous!
O.M.Gorgeous!

Note 1: I went back to buy this picnic set from the 1920’s and it had sold to a food stylist from a very cool magazine.  My entire Great Gatsby fantasy buzz, went right down the drain. Damn!

gatsby

Note 2: My passion for shopping does not extend to most new stuff. If you drag me to the mall, I instantly break out in a relentless hot flash.

There is a lot of folklore around these skillets, and how to care for them, but for getting a to-die-for sear on meats like beef and lamb, the perfect egg scramble, bake, or omelet they simply RULE.  Cast iron also does a killer veggie stir fry and perfect sweet potato hash.  

If you want to learn more about how to find a great vintage cast iron skillet check this out.  

There is also some chatter on whether cast iron is healthy or not. 

First let me preface this with: Don’t use cast iron everyday if you know you are not iron deficient.

If know me a bit, and have heard what I have to say about just, well, EVERYTHING, it’s that generally too much of a good thing, is not a good thing….well, when it comes to food anyhow.  Sorry Mae, we don’t agree on this idea..but other stuff you said? Oh Hell Yes!

Cast iron has been around a lot longer than teflon – the devil, so used in moderation I don’t worry about it.

Plus, these skillets make food look beautiful and there’s lot’s to be said about THAT, no?

Paleo Egg, Bacon & Sweet Potato Hash - Mother's Day
Paleo Egg, Veggie & Sweet Potato Hash – Mother’s Day

Anyway, let’s move on to prepping your sexy skillet.

For years I’ve heard that the best way to season cast-iron cookware is by placing it over medium heat and wiping out the pan with coats of vegetable oil, until its surface turns dark and shiny. But YUCK-OILA, who wants to use that genetically modified unhealthy fake-o-oil? When I came across a different method from blogger Sheryl Canter, I was smitten. Her approach calls for treating the pan with multiple coats of flaxseed oil between hour-long stints in the oven.

 I tried it—and the results were fabulous! The flaxseed oil bonded well to my little lady skillets, creating a sheer, stick-resistant surface, that even with a run through my dishwasher, came out gorgeous. But DON’T put them in the dishwasher.  I was just trying it because I’m an cookware tester-experimenter freak. Did I mention that? 

So…..

Why does this other method work so well?

Glad you asked:

Not only is flaxseed oil a powerful superfood that is great for all things in our lovely bod pods, but it is the food-grade equivalent of linseed oil, used by oil painting artists to give their works a hard, polished finish, and it has six times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as nasty vegetable oil- Oh, Yes, Yes, YES!

Over prolonged exposure to high heat, these fatty acids combine to form a strong, solid coating that adheres to the cast iron surface.

So lets get started!

Here’s how to do it!

1. Take them to the spa: Warm an unseasoned pan (either new or stripped of seasoning*) for 15 minutes in a 200-degree oven to open its cute little pores.
2. Take the pan from the oven. Add 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil to the pan and, using tongs, rub the oil into the surface with paper towels. With fresh paper towels, thoroughly wipe out the pan to remove excess oil.
3. Place the oiled pan upside down in a cold oven, then set the oven to its maximum baking temperature. Once the oven reaches its maximum temperature, heat the pan for one hour. Turn off the oven; cool the pan in the oven for at least two hours.
4. Repeat the process five more times, or until the pan develops a dark, semi-matte surface.  If you feel like you’re going stir lazy, read a good book, or watch re-runs of Parenthood. Voila!

*The best way to strip a cast-iron pan of seasoning is to run the pan through your oven’s self-cleaning cycle.

Now, let’s get cooking!

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  1. I’m a little different with my cast iron. Promise not to kill me (as I have my boyfriend so many times if he put my cast iron in the dishwater) I put mine in the oven with regular old veggie oil (not too much couple tablespoons) and some course ground sea salt for a couple hours at 200 degrees. Then when it comes out, I take a paper towel and scrub that oil into the pan with the salt. It’s worked for my Southern family forever. And I use mine nearly every day. I was raised on them, I don’t know anything else.

    1. Tami,

      I PROMISE not to kill you ;). If you are from the South, you get the dibs on cooking and caring for cast iron! I say UNCLE!!! Lol. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Love this! Mine isn’t vintage but there’s nothing like a cast iron skillet for grilling steak or chicken or vegetables (especially asparagus – grilled asparagus is the bomb.)

  3. I LOOOVE cast iron skillets too, my mother always cooked with them , and now I always cook with them too, we have the tastiest meals in our neighborhood for sure because we have mastered the art that is Cooking with an iron skillet 😉

    and that vinatge picnic set looks so cool, would go to the park everyday if i had one of those !

  4. Love, love my cast iron! My parents gave us a Lodge for one of our wedding gifts (I asked for it!) and it has been used many, many times! There is nothing better than a nice piece of steak right out of the pan! 🙂 YUM! I’ve never heard of using flaxseed though, will definitely give it a try.

    1. Dear FiletMignon, What are you doing tonight? 😉
      Kidding, of course. What a great wedding gift idea! Let me know what you think of the flaxseed oil when you try it!

  5. I have never heard of this method before. I’m definitely intrigued. Tell me, please, Knower-of-All-Things-Kitchen (which is more flattering, but less catchy than Equipment Dork), does heating the oil to that temperature release toxins? And if so, does the lacquer-like surface and the extended heating make that a non-issue by the time you cook with those babies?

    I am NOT a fan of my cast iron, because I’ve never gotten a nice finish on it, but that’s the only reason. Oh, and once I dropped a cast iron skillet on a smooth glass cooktop surface and shattered it. That was epic in a bad way. Bad. Evil. Time out for me.

    BUT when I make something that doesn’t stick, I l-o-v-e my cast iron pans! The flavor–yum! Except with eggs–yuck. Hey, we can’t agree on everything.

    I’m sharing this post with my readers. Thanks for the great info.