Untreated cast iron rusts, especially around water. To prevent metal from oxidizing in the presence of moisture, cast iron requires a process called ? seasoning? . Seasoning is simply the procedure of baking oil into the oven’s pores, and on top of the iron pores. This baked on coating will darken and eventually turn black with age. Darkening is the sign of a well kept oven, and of it’s use. This coating forms a barrier between moisture in the air and the surface of the metal. It also gives a non-stick coating on the inside of the oven that is easy to clean.
Here are some tips when it is time to season your own oven.
Scrub lid and oven hot water with a mild soap to take off the coating the manufacture puts on the oven prior to shipping. Use a stiff brush, 3M scrub pad, or plastic scrubbing pad to scrub the waxy coating from your new Dutch oven, and rinse in clear, hot water. Dry your oven by placing it in the kitchen oven at 150 to 200 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes.
Although it’s warm, coat the inner and outer surfaces with a thin layer of cooking oil. Use a good grade of olive or vegetable oil. Peanut oil is a choice of many, and tallow or lard can also be used, but they tend to break down over time and become rancid if the oven isn’t used often enough.
Place the oven and lid in a conventional oven, or a gas BBQ grill, with the pot upside down and the lid on the oven legs. Heat oven at 450 to 500 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the oil turns very dark, nearly black. This procedure bakes a grease coating to the pot and virtually gives it a no clean surface.
Eliminate the oven and apply another light coat of oil, and. bake at 450 to 500 degrees for another 30 minutes. By using high temperatures, the oil will bake harder and darker, leaving your oven shinier. You ought to oil and bake at least once, I like to go through this process two, or even three times to get a beautiful dark color, and rock hard finish.
Switch off the heat and allow the Dutch oven sit until cool. If the surface is tacky, bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes. When seasoning your oven it will create a smell that may be unpleasant. For this reason some prefer to season their ovens at a BBQ outside, however I have done all mine inside with the doors and windows open.
First thing that you cook in your oven after seasoning should be things such as roasts, potatoes or chicken. Stay away from tomatoes and tomato products with high acid content, or a great deal of sugar such as cobblers. Acids and sugars can break down the protective covering until it seasons or hardens properly.