Seasoning is the process of creating a stick-resistant cooking surface by applying heat to the pan to polymerize applied oil or fat. For the most stick-resistant and durable cooking surface, we recommend applying multiple layers of organic food-grade flax seed oil. Polymerization can be achieved by heating your pan, covered with the finest smear of oil, in a kitchen oven or on a gas or electric stove top.
Element Cookware applies four coatings of flax seed oil to the cooking surface of all pans before delivery. This not only provides an exceptional cooking surface, but also ensures easy cleaning and maintenance. Your pan is ready to be used as supplied.
For the best non stick cooking results, try the application of a small amount of butter to a preheated cast iron pan. The flax seed oil seasoned surface does not allow unsalted cultured butter to adhere and a non stick surface results.
However it is best to cook with which ever cooking medium you prefer or which ever medium suits the food and cooking method. Butter, oil, lard cast iron accepts all cooking oils or fats.
Over time and through regular cooking your pan will continue to be seasoned, creating an even smoother cooking surface. Your pan will only improve with age and regular use.
All foods can be successfully cooked on a cast iron surface that is seasoned with flax seed oil. However, cooking acidic foods can weaken the polymerized surface. If this should occur, simply re-season your pan using flax seed oil.
When attempting to re-season your pan, the cooking surface should be cleaned back.
Intense cleaning is best achieved using steel wool, or if you have access to small electric hand drill, use a circular brass brush that is designed to attach to your drill. This cleaning process will not undo the previous placement of polymerized oil embedded in the porous cast iron surface. It will, however, remove any excess cooking material and will smooth the polymerized surface to enable the successful re-seasoning of the pan using one or two coatings of heated flax seed oil.
You will want to re season the pan whenever the cooking surface becomes less effective in its non stick performance. This may be in three months, six months or a year.
The stove top seasoning process:
Dry completely by heating the pan.
Applied a small amount of oil to all surfaces (this will also protect the pan from rust and enable washing in water without concern).
After oiling all surfaces, wipe the cooking surface with a paper towel, being careful to protect your hands from the hot pan. Ensure no excess oil is left on the pan, just enough to evenly coat the surface.
Turn your stove to high and heat pan until the flax seed oil starts to smoke.
Turn the stove down to a medium-high heat and continue to cook until the smoking stops. This should take about 15 minutes.
Turn the heat off and allow the pan to cool to room temperature.
Repeat steps for additional coats. We recommend at least two coats of flax seed oil for each re-seasoning. For best results, we recommend up to six coats of polymerized flax seed oil. The pan already has four coats as supplied.
As the design and performance of stoves varies from model to model, we recommend observing the start and finish of each smoking phase and adjusting temperatures/times accordingly.
The Oven Seasoning Process:
Oven seasoning is the best option if a uniform seasoning appearance is desired.
Stove top seasoning enables the creation of an excellent cooking surface but struggles to blacken the higher walls as this takes cooking time.
First wash and dry the pan surface completely with a drying towel followed by stove top heating.
Apply a small amount of flaxseed oil to all surfaces
After oiling all of the pan surfaces, wipe the pan to ensure the oil is not applied excessivly.
We have found that a piece of old cotton tee shirt is a perfect non wicking oil absorbent cloth , be careful to protect your hands from the hot pan.
Only the thinnest veneer of oil remains on the surface.
Turn the kitchen oven temperature to maximum ( above 220C) and place the pan upsidedown on the oven racks.
30 minutes should be sufficient for the flaxseed oil to enter and complete the "oil smoking/curing phase".
Turn the oven temperature down to 180 degrees C and allow the flaxseed oil to set off for another 30 minutes.
Turn the oven heat off and allow the pan to cool, this constitutes one coating of flax seed oil as a seasoning agent. Four to six such coats really do produce a very durable and able non stick surface.
The pan is supplied with four coats of seasoning oil and is very able to function in rigorous cooking, cleaning and washing regimes.
There is no need to apply additional seasoning treatment to the supplied pan and we recommend cooking on the pan as it comes straight out of the box.
Further seasoning requirements will become obvious as you progress with learning to cook on cast iron.
The chemistry of the flaxseed non-stick coating is most effectively exploited by cooking with a thin film of cultured butter. The flaxseed oil coating and the applied butter naturally remain separate at the molecular level when cooking.
However cast iron cooking surfaces are suitable for cooking with all vegetable seed oils, such as olive oil or sunflower oil but especially good when utilizing animal fats, such as butter or ghee.
A great description of a similar technique can be studied at Sheryl Canter's blog.