Most new cast iron cookware comes with a "factory-seasoned" label, but what does that mean? Are you getting the same well-seasoned, nonstick surface that makes your grandmother’s long-used skillet such a treasure?
In our tour of the Lodge cast iron factory, we discovered what the factory seasoning process is and the best ways to maintain that initial seasoning.
What Is Factory Seasoning?
Normal cast iron seasoning is achieved when fats and oils collect on cast iron through regular use. Factory seasoning occurs when a specific soy-based oil is applied in high heat to allow polymers to form a seasoning layer comparable to 10 to 15 rounds of at-home seasoning.
Lodge Manufacturing was the first cast iron manufacturer to factory season cast iron cookware starting in 2002. “It was a total ‘Aha’ moment,” said Mark Kelly, Public Relations Manager of Lodge Manufacturing. “It should have been this way all along.”
Do You Ever Need to Re-Season?
No initial seasoning is required straight out of the box, so consumers can enjoy the benefits of seasoned cast iron immediately. But do you still need to keep seasoning your factory-seasoned cast iron? Indeed.
Factory seasoning is a kickstart to the fine art of cast iron seasoning, but seasoning is an ongoing process. Want that perfect black, nonstick patina? Then get to cooking — regular use and maintenance are the best way to build up the coveted nonstick surface.
A Few Seasoning Tips from the Folks at Lodge
- Make your first meal. Anything will do, but frying up a little bit of bacon gives the factory seasoning even more extra oils.
- Maximize your seasoning. Meats especially enhance seasoning.
- Maintain the seasoning. Rub olive oil all over the cookware prior to cooking. After cleaning, rub oil all over the cookware, then place on a stove burner or in the oven at a low temperature, which allows the oils to seep in.
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(Image credits: Erika Tracy)