Cast iron is the ultimate kitchen workhorse. It’s durable, versatile and, when seasoned properly, non stick. And the only maintenance it requires is a bit of oil to keep it from rusting.
But there’s one drawback: It takes time to build up that seasoning on your own, and if you’re new to cast iron cooking, you might be impatient for that first pancake.
Enter pre-seasoned cast iron skillets. These skillets already have a layer of seasoning built up so they’re ready to use right out of the box — no scrubbing or seasoning required.
Have you ever gone to buy a new pan and wondered if that black stuff on it was supposed to be there? If you never heard of pre seasoned cast iron pots then you need to keep reading. There are some people who might say it’s a gimmick, but can pre seasoned pots work for everyone?
For the most part, there are two main types of cast iron cookware: bare and pre-seasoned. Bare cast iron is usually cheaper than pre-seasoned items, but there are a few things you should know before buying into this type of cookware:
- First, you’ll need to season it yourself.
- Second, it has a tendency to rust faster than other cast iron products, especially if you don’t maintain it properly.
What is pre seasoned cast iron?
It’s simply coatings applied to the cast iron cookware and skillets to season them. The good thing is that they are now available readily and they are very affordable. They are coated with the same material as seasoning inside a skillet or a pan.
The purpose of this coating is to provide non stick properties to the cookware, and also make it significantly more durable.
Pre seasoned cast iron cookware has a coating of oil baked into the surface, which prevents food from sticking. This coating means that cookware does not need to be seasoned before use. However, it can be beneficial to season cookware for even better results if you have time.
Pre seasoned cast iron is also very durable and can last a lifetime if cared for properly. It is virtually indestructible, so long as it is not dropped on a hard surface, and should not be washed in the dishwasher or left to soak in water for extended periods of time.
Benefits of pre seasoned cast iron
- It’s already non stick, so you can start cooking without having to go through the seasoning process.
- You can use soap on your pre seasoned cast iron skillet without damaging or removing the seasoning because you built it up yourself with your own grease. You don’t have to worry about any extra chemicals or additives that might be used in factory seasoning processes.
- Pre seasoning does protect the pan from rusting. A factory coating can help prevent your pan from rusting if you let it sit out for long periods of time or put it away wet.s
Disadvantages of pre-seasoned cast iron
Despite these advantages, pre-seasoning does have a few disadvantages:
- Pre-seasoning provides initial protection but doesn’t last as long as seasoning that’s done at home. Seasoning needs to be maintained by occasionally cleaning your pan and reapplying oil after every use.
- If you are a cast iron cooking professional, then you might prefer the feel of your own seasoning on the pan. The factory seasonings can be uneven, which may turn you off.
- Another disadvantage of pre-seasoned cast iron is that care must be taken during cleaning due to the non stick coating. Some people prefer the taste of food cooked in unseasoned cast iron pans, but this comes down to personal preference.
How do I clean my pre seasoned cast iron?
The best way to clean a pre seasoned cast iron skillet is with hot water and a stiff brush. Use the brush to scrape off any bits of food from the surface after cooking, then rinse with hot water. This will remove all of the food particles and won’t damage your seasoning. You can actually use a bit soap, too — if you want, Then rinse and dry completely. NOTE: Never soak or let soapy water sit in the pan for any length of time.
Should I season a pre seasoned cast iron?
Pre seasoned cast iron doesn’t produce a 100% non stick surface. Pre seasoned cast iron is just that: a pan that has been pre-coated in oil at the factory. While it might seem like an easy way to get around that whole “seasoning” process, it doesn’t make for much of a non stick surface.
In fact, some cooks prefer to give their new pans a quick wash when they first get them in order to remove the factory coating (and start over).
Do I need to do anything to my pre-seasoned cast iron skillet?
Yes, even if your skillet is pre-seasoned, it’s highly advisable that you season it again before use. Seasoning here doesn’t refer to flavoring with spices, but the process of heating the pan and applying a layer of oil or fat, which enhances its non-stick abilities. Based on personal experience, this small step can greatly improve your cooking experience with your new cast-iron skillet.
Is it good to buy a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet?
Yes, getting a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet can be an added convenience. The reason being that pre-seasoned pans already have a thin and evenly spread layer of seasoning. This not only makes it ready to use out of the box but also means that you’ll be starting on the right foot with the seasoning process. As a culinary expert, I usually suggest pre-seasoned skillets as it helps first-time users especially, to easily adjust to cooking with cast-iron.
What to do when you buy a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet?
Once you purchase a pre-seasoned cast-iron skillet, the first thing you should do is clean it with hot water. Try to avoid using soap as it may strip away the pre-seasoning. Keep in mind that drying it immediately and thoroughly is essential in preventing rust. Over years of working with cast-iron, I’ve found that properly maintaining the pan is key to its longevity.
Is pre-seasoned cast iron good or bad?
Factory pre-seasoned pans are not inherently bad, they just aren’t seasoned perfectly. The seasoning they come with is meant more for rust prevention than an optimal non-stick surface. The secret is to continuously add thin layers of fat over time to achieve the perfect seasoning. Remember, haste makes waste. Trying to slap on a thick layer all in one go will only result in a greasy, and possibly flaky, pan. As an avid cook, knowing this has made all the difference in my cast-iron cooking endeavors.