The fact that you are here means you are probably a dedicated cook. A good cook wants to stir-fry, sear or roast their meats occasionally. You can do that with almost any pan but the carbon steel pan is more effective on the list.
This is because first It’s not as heavy as its cousin cast iron and conducts heat more than the sister stainless steel. In fact, it works the same way as some non-stick skillets/pans.
The carbon steel pan is known as one of the durable utensils in the market. But, for that to happen you need to take care of it.
You need to season it every so often. I know what you may think. So, why buy such a pan that requires extra work when you can use a non-stick pan?
Well, you may use the non-stick option but the coated pans don’t last. Because they are simply coated and once the coating comes off you need to buy a new one. People are shying away from using coated pans because of the harmful chemical called Teflon.
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On the other hand, if you continue to season and maintain your carbon steel pans they will serve you for many years.
HOW TO SEASON CARBON STEEL PANS
It’s likely that you may find pans that are pre-seasoned but, in the event, that you don’t, know that seasoning is essential. The process bonds the oil to the surface which ultimately makes the pan non-stick while protecting it against rust.
- Carefully clean it
If your pan is new or you have used it you will need to clean it first before the seasoning process. Just like the non-stick pans or cast iron ones avoid scrubbing. Don’t use steel wool on the pan only double-sided sponge or nylon scrubber.
The carbon steel isn’t porous so you can soak it in warm water to remove the extra sticky food debris. Then with soap and the nylon scrubber, wash it clean then dry it completely with your kitchen cloth.
- Heat the pan
For the seasoning process, the first step is to subject your pan to heat. This will help begin forming the non-stick layer. Use the stove top or an oven. Set the temperature of the oven to about 350m-400 degrees.
- When it gets hot, use your protective gear to remove it from the oven.
- Pour some neutral oil on a clean kitchen cloth or paper towel then spread it evenly in the interior of the pan as well as the exterior surface. Remember to use the tongs and oven mitts for safety.
- Take your baking sheet and line it with foil then place in the bottom rack.
- Turn your coated pan upside down and place it on the rack that’s above the baking sheet so that the baking sheet can get hold of the drips of oil. Let it stay on at a temperature of about 350˚F for 1 hour.
- After the hour, turn off the oven and let the pan cool off for an hour.
When using a stovetop
The procedure is almost the same when you are using a stove top for the seasoning process.
- Heat your pan until it gets burning hot and beginning to smoke.
- Use the oven mitts to remove the pan from the heat source.
- Go on and repeat the coating procedure. Pour the oil on the paper towel or kitchen cloth then grease the interior and exterior surface completely.
- Switch on the stove top to a medium heat again then place the pan back to the burner or coil. Let it heat up until the oil begins to liquify or for about 15 minutes.
- Remove your pan from the heat and wipe off the excess oil. Then put it at a place where no one will bump on it to cool and finally store it for future use.
Note that, after you season once, that shouldn’t be the end. You need to season it severally before it becomes fully seasoned.
THE BEST SEASONING OIL FOR CARBON STEEL PANS
Seasoning carbon steel pan with flaxseed oil
Note that, for this process to work you need to use 100% flaxseed oil without additives. Most people consider it food grade equivalent to linseed oil. It’s scientifically proven that the flaxseed polymerization is effective as a seasoning agent for carbon steel and cast iron pans.
Ensure that the oil you bought is a must refrigerate. If this isn’t the case then your oil isn’t authentically flaxseed. It has omega 3 which makes it stink if not refrigerated. Remember that your pan is made using a pure and chemical free component.
Thus, introducing anything artificial may mess everything up for you. Use only the organic flaxseed oil for the process. Remember, your seasoning won’t work if you use the wrong flaxseed oil.
Below are two options I suggest you consider buying.
1. Barlean’s Organic Lignan Flax Oil
This flaxseed oil is unfiltered and unrefined yet pure. It’s your best option for a healthy meal but also works best for your carbon steel seasoning. It’s a plant-based omega 3 oil. Its fresh and cold pressed oil that is protected from light and air.
2. Puritan’s Pride Organic Flaxseed Oil
For enhanced quality, the flaxseed oil is processed in a light controlled environment and the oil pressing uses no solvent this is to enhance its purity. The oil is USDA certified and rich in omega 3. It contains no preservatives, flavors or colorings.
Canola oil for seasoning carbon steel
The whole essence of using this oil is to give your pan a seasoning. The best oil to use for the seasoning should be neutral because we don’t need the oil to influence any flavour in this case. We all love canola oil for its versatility which makes it suitable for use in almost every meal.
It’s a neutral oil which makes it a good choice for seasoning.
3. Canola seed oil
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This features a cold pressed and 100% pure canola seed used to make the oil. It’s a product of non-GMO brassica that makes it high in omega 6-3. Its further a safe product compared to many.
4. Healthy Harvest Canola Oil
This non-GMO canola oil is made in the USA and it’s grown without dangerous pesticides. This healthy oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. The oil is physically refined without extra chemicals and hydrogenation.
It will work well for your seasoning since it also has a natural expeller pressing procedure.
The grapeseed oil is the other healthy option oil for nutritional reasons but also effective for use in your seasoning. It is a great option for neutral oils with high smoking points. Its features make it effective for use even in body massage.
5. Artizen Grapeseed Oil
This features a 100% natural oil with no additives to alter its nature. It’s not only neutral but also odourless thus effective addition to your food. Besides, it works best since it’s non-greasy and colorless too. It has a lifetime warranty that makes you trust it the more.
6. Grapeseed Oil by Sky Organics
This is your other best option for the seasoning case. It features a pure and 100% grape seeds from Italy. Its further natural and organic. It has a high smoking point and it’s a healthy option which makes it ideal for cooking as well as seasoning your pans.
Aside from that, you may use it for body massage, your hair and for aromatherapy.
BEST SEASONING OIL FOR YOUR CAST IRON PANS
Not that, the same oils mentioned above will work on your cast iron pans. They both need care and maintenance and specifically seasoning. However, let’s talk about flaxseed oil.
Flaxseed oil seasoning
Of course, you may use vegetable oil for the seasoning especially if it has a high smoking point. But, you want the best option, don’t you?
Flaxseed oil is above all other oil forms in the seasoning. This is because it can polymerize into solid form when subjected to high temperatures for hours. It then solidly bonds with the surface to make it develop a non-stick coat.
You see, this oil is compared to the linseed version which gives your furniture the hard and polished finish. The flaxseed oil does the same thing for your cast iron. For more information about the science of flaxseed seasoning oil visit Sheryl‘s blog.
Using grapeseed oil
There’s not much to add here from the one mentioned on the carbon steel pans. Except that it’s also a good quality oil because it comes from grapes. In fact, it’s the leftover remains after the winemaking process.
Its advisable to use it during the initial seasoning. However, since it’s a neutral oil, you may use it also for re-seasoning too.
Did you know that you can season your carbon steel with potato peels and salt?
This is something that surprised me but the curious person that I am tried it and it worked. Below is the procedure.
- Remove the wax or grease coating which is normally used to protect the pan from rust when it’s being transported from the manufacturer to the customer. You will need a dish soap, hot water and a scrubber in form of a brush with bristles.
- Dry your pan completely.
- Get potato peels from 2 potatoes, then add a third of a cup of oil and 2 thirds cup of salt and place them in the pan. Heat this mixture over medium heat.
- Keep moving the peels around the pan even to the sides of the pan. This should take anything between 8-10 minutes.
- Notice that the pan turns brown and when this happens, discard the content remaining then let the pan cool down.
- Finally, wipe it with a paper towel.
This is suitable for a completely new carbon steel pan or the initial seasoning.
CARE AND MAINTAINANCE
Most people think that once they have seasoned the pan, their work is done. But, just like any other thing, if you don’t take care of it, they experience a reduced lifespan. This care and tips apply to both your carbon steel and cast iron cookware.
How to clean your pans
If you have recently seasoned your pans, you must avoid the use of soap and scouring pads on the pan. This will remove the seasoning and take you back to the 1st step.
If possible try and avoid soap as much as possible. However, you may use it occasionally when the surface is completely seasoned.
Always dry your pan completely after washing with warm or hot water.
How to wipe it
If you know how to follow the cleaning instruction then you should develop a non-stick coat soon. Wipe the cooking pan with towels between uses.
Use enough oil for your cooking don’t try to reduce the amount of oil you use and let the oil heat up on a high temperature before you add your food. Never use very low temperature with these pans as this may cause sticking of the food.
Be patient with your food, let it cook all the way on one side then it will raise and let you turn the other side.
Clean using coarse salt
It’s inevitable to have burnt and stuck food sometimes. Traditionally this was removed using mild abrasives.
Do the same when your pan is still warm. Leave some of the oil within the pan and with a folded towel scrub your pan with kosher salt. Take your time here for the perfect results. Scrub all sides of the pan until you have all the stuck food unstuck.
Remove the excess salt and rinse your pan in hot water and dry it thoroughly before coating it with a layer of oil. Then store it for future use.
Use a stainless chainmail scrubbing pad
Now you may doubt this but it’s true that this is the best pad to use when cleaning your carbon steel and cast iron pans and skillets. They help to remove the stuck food from the pan without messing with the formed coat.
The Ringer – The Original Stainless Steel Cast Iron Cleaner
This tool is your best friend when it comes to cleaning the pans. Our aim is to protect the already formed non-stick coating and this does that for us. This durable scrubber is your savior from buying the sponges every time.
It will work on almost any kind of cookware. Whether it’s your hard cast iron cookware or the brittle and beautiful glassware, it will clean them all perfectly. It looks like it can scrub your cookware but it never does.
The high-quality item is dishwasher safe and it has a ring for you to use in hanging it. Let’s not talk so much about it just go and buy yourself one.
Use hot water and soap method
I know we have discouraged the use of soap but read on to see what I mean.
After you use the pan and you have stuck food or you just feel that your pan needs some serious washing, follow these steps.
- Heat the water to a boiling point or a reasonably high level. This will always remove the stuck proteins and if it doesn’t you can use the spatula to scrub off the remains.
- If the pan has long developed a good seasoning, use a few drops of dishwashing soap to clean it. This should happen on a rare occasion.
Nonetheless, here is your disclaimer, never put your pan in a dishwasher ever.
The drying process
As you may have noticed, through the article we talk about drying the pan. It will help to prevent rust because the cast iron and carbon steel are susceptible to rust.
After cleaning with water use your paper towels or kitchen towels to dry. You can also heat them on a stovetop or oven just to be sure its dry.
After this, pour some oil on the pan to lightly coat the interior and exterior of the pan. Wipe off the excess oil and store it for use on a later date.
Just like drying, the storage is essential to make sure it doesn’t catch moisture and begin to rust.
Only store the items in a dry place and don’t cover with a lid. If you don’t intend to use them for a while remember to lightly coat the surface.
If you have stored your pan over a long time and you realize that it has become sticky don’t panic. This is the seasoning oil beginning to solidify and form the non-stick coat. You must remove grease before use as this will alter your foods taste.
You remove it by wiping the surface using a paper towel that’s soaked in vegetable oil. It’s okay to have some remains of the sticky surfaces as they will come off after you cook.
If your pan has developed rust, you must clean it with The Ringer – The Original Stainless Steel Cast Iron Cleaner. This removes the light rust but if you have a heavy rust then you must scrub off the coat with steel wool and vinegar then begin the seasoning all over again.
Never leave your pans soaking in the sink as this will ruin them.
I know what you may think, with all that work who wants a carbon steel or cast iron pan? Well, shock on you, I do. This is because I know with proper care my pan will last for generations to come.
Out of the oils talked about I think flaxseed oil is the best for seasoning. This is because of the science of polymerization involved when seasoning. Although I equally trust grapeseed oil. Now you know how to season your pan, go and buy one since this is a lifetime investment.