Seasoned Cast Iron can be considered the "grandfather" to today's "non-stick" cookware.
Cast Iron Cookware must be seasoned properly and it will last a life-time. ( I still use my Grandmother's cast iron skillets on a regular basis and they must be at least 60-70+ years old.)
1. Heat the oven to 250o - 300o
2. Coat the pan with lard or bacon grease. Don't use a liquid vegetable oil because it will leave a sticky surface and the pan will not be properly seasoned.
3. Put the pan in the oven. In 15 minutes, remove the pan & pour out any excess grease. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 2 hours.
Repeating this process several times is recommended as it will help create a stronger "seasoning" bond.
Also, when you put the pan into service, it is recommended to use it initially for foods high in fat, such as bacon or foods cooked with fat, because the grease from these foods will help strengthen the seasoning.
Pans needing Re-Seasoning
If the pan was not seasoned properly or a portion of the seasoning wore off and food sticks to the surface or there is rust, then it should be properly cleaned and re-seasoned.
1. Remove any food residue by cleaning the pan thoroughly with hot water and a scouring pad. I understand that heating the pan first to a temperature that is still safe to touch helps open the pores of the metal and makes it easier to clean.
2. Dry the pan immediately with dish towel or paper towel.
3. Season the pan as outlined above.
Caring for Cast Iron Cookware
Seasoning a cast iron pan is a natural way of creating non-stick cookware. And, like you cook and clean the modern non-stick cookware with special care to avoid scratching the surface, your cast iron cookware wants some special attention too.
Clean the cookware while it is still hot by rinsing with hot water and scraping when necessary. Do not use a scouring pad or soap (detergent) as they will break down the pan's seasoning.
Never store food in the cast iron pan as the acid in the food will breakdown the seasoning and the food will take on a metallic flavor.
Store your cast iron cookware with the lids off, especially in humid weather, because if covered, moisture can build up and cause rust. Should rust appear, the pan should be re-seasoned.
When you purchase cast iron cookware, they are medium gray in color, but after usage, they start turning darker. (My pans are very black in color.) This is normal and should be expected.