How do you season and clean your brand new carbon steel (black steel) or cast iron fry pan or wok? Different manufacturers recommend many different techniques. In the first instance, you may want to try their recommended method. When that does not work, try the following.
I have tested this method on a de Buyer Carbone Plus carbon steel fry pan; a Wiltshire carbon steel wok; and an eBay, no-brand cast iron griddle pan. Following is what I have found to work the best. There is no rocket science in this. It is easy, just follow the steps.
If you are planning to take your pan camping, you will want to do the initial seasoning at home first.
Seasoning a carbon steel or cast iron pan or wok:
- rinse the pan under hot water (no detergent) to remove any coatings that have been applied to prevent oxidisation or rust during transit
- lightly coat the pan with vegetable oil — I use olive oil and spread it around evenly with a folded paper towel
- place the coated pan in a cold oven upside and then heat to a high temperature — my oven goes up to 250 degrees Centigrade, so that is what I use
- let the pan bake for about an hour — open your windows as there will be smoke that may set off your fire alarm!
- turn off the oven and allow the pan to cool fully before removing
- rinse the pan under hot water (no detergent)
- repeat this process until you have achieved a rich, black and even patina on your carbon steel or cast iron pan or wok — this may take three or four cycles to achieve.
Every so often, repeat the oven seasoning process. Once you have achieved the rich, black patina initially, you will only need to go through one cycle every so often to keep it there.
You may also top up the seasoning of the inside of the pan or wok by applying vegetable oil and then heating it up to smoking point over a hot plate. I often do this prior to cooking a meal.
Cleaning a carbon steel or cast iron pan or wok:
- when you have finished cooking, drain any remaining oil or fat from the pan and lightly scrape off any chunky food deposits (no need to remove all of the oil/food, just the bulk of it)
- while the pan is still hot, dust the cooking surface with salt, which will sanitise the pan — I use cheap salt purchased in bulk from the grocery store
- when the pan is cool, use a nylon scraper/brush to loosen the salt and any remaining food/oil deposits and then rinse fully in hot water (no detergent)
- if you use the pan regularly, dry the pan and store it
- if you do not use the pan regularly, you should coat it with a small amount of vegetable oil to ensure that it does not oxidise/rust in storage.
Whatever you do, do not place the cast iron or carbon steel pan or wok in the dishwasher — you will destroy the patina and need to start the seasoning process all over again!