When you cook with cast iron, you partake in a culinary tradition that's been around for centuries. In some households, the skillet is older than the cook; now that's durability! Sturdy as it is, cast iron must be maintained to avoid rust and ensure cooking success. If you're using a cast-iron skillet for the first time, be sure to coat it with oil, preferably olive oil. This seasoning process prevents rust and creates a natural nonstick surface. Properly cared for, a cast iron pan can be used to fry meats, broil veggies, sear seafood and even bake delicious cakes.
Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any oil that may drip during the seasoning process. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Saturate one or two paper towels with olive oil and place them in the skillet.
Rub the saturated paper towels over the entire interior of the skillet, coating the surface generously with a thick layer of olive oil.
Place the skillet in the oven upside down on the upper rack and leave it to bake for one hour.
With an oven mitt, remove the cast-iron skillet after the hour elapses. Let the skillet cool.
Some cooks repeat the seasoning process two to three times to create a thick seasoning layer on the cast iron. Using olive oil to season the cast iron imparts a distinctive olive oil taste to your foods. Other oils can be used as well.