How to season a carbon steel pan
On arrival, a new carbon steel pan from Professional Secrets is covered with a layer of wax that protects the surface from humidity and corrosion. It must be removed before you even start to season your pan. Like this:
How to remove protective wax layer:
- Using a bristle brush, rinse your pan with generous amounts of hot water (the hotter the better) in your kitchen sink until there is no stickiness left.
- Dry the pan thoroughly after rinsing.
- Place it on the stove on moderate heat to make sure it is really, really dry.
(Important: The waxy layer protects your carbon pan when it is delivered to you, but in the unlikely event that you should discover small patches of rust, this is no problem. See “rust” at the bottom of this page.)
Season carbon pan the first time:
Seasoning bonds oil to the surface, giving the pan excellent non-stick properties. It also protects the surface against corrosion (rust). Any vegetable oil with a high burning point will do, but common sunflower oil and flaxseed oil are recommended. This is how it’s done:
- Warm the pan on moderate heat and add 2 to 3 table spoons of oil. (Some also recommend adding salt and, for example, potato peels to help absorb any remaining traces of wax.)
- Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, occasionally moving the oil around the bottom and sides of the pan with the help of a spatula and/or paper towel. As the pan seasons it will turn brown, or even black. Every pan has its own, unique look.
- Expect the oil to bead and the pan to smoke (as the oil breaks down). Keep wiping away the smoking oil – or it will turn sticky – and add more if necessary.
- Remove oil and let the pan cool. Wipe away excess oil with paper towels – it is now ready for cooking. (If you find that food sticks to the pan, repeat the procedure.)
- Now, as you use your pan and handle it according to the directions below, its properties will only become better with time. Some chefs claim that making pancakes is the best way of all to “season an already seasoned pan”…
How to care for a carbon steel pan:
After every use:
- Don’t let the pan stand around for long with “wet” ingredients.
- Wash the pan with hot water and a bristle brush.
- Always dry the pan thoroughly after washing (your side towels will stain, use paper towels).
- Re-season by applying a thin layer of oil with a paper towel, preferably while heating the pan.
- Store in a dry place.
Acidic ingredients – vinegar, lemon, tomatoes, etc – can react with the steel in the pan. This is a harmless reaction, but it may give food an unpleasant metallic flavor. Stainless steel or ceramics are a better idea.
High heat – but slowly
A carbon steel pan is perfect for working with high heat. However, the pan must be heated up and cooled down slowly or the steel can lose its shape. Therefore:
- Always heat up the pan gently. Never, ever use the "boost" function on an induction stove.
- Never add cold water to a hot pan.
Re-seasoning a carbon steel pan 1
Sooner or later the properties of the cooking surface will deteriorate because of unwanted residue. The following is one method for restoring the pan to its former glory:
- Scrub the pan with a moderately abrasive sponge. If necessary, use a little detergent. Scrub until the cooking surface feels smooth. The coloring will be uneven, it’s the glossy surface you want.
- Re-season the pan according to the instructions above, as if it were new.
Re-seasoning a carbon steel pan 2
Or you can try this “dry” method for removing unwanted residue on the cooking surface:
- Cover the bottom of the pan with about 5 mm of coarse salt.
- Bring the pan to high heat for about 2 minutes. Shake now and then.
- The salt should, hopefully, absorb burnt food and fat.
- Throw away the salt and let the pan cool.
- Cover the bottom with a heat-resistant oil and apply moderate heat for about 30 minutes. Pour away the oil and dry with paper.
How to remove rust from a carbon steel pan:
Stains of rust look bad, but are usually only superficial and easily removed:
- Wash with warm water and a gentle detergent and rinse and dry thoroughly. If this doesn’t do it:
- Add lemon juice or vinegar and a table spoon of salt and scrub – for up to 10 minutes – until the rust dissolves.
- If necessary, repeat the procedure.
- If necessary, use steelscrubber.
- The pan must be re-seasoned after any of the treatments above.
- Important: Never use steelscrubber on a seasoned pan.