Seasoning Cast Iron
Submitted by Lumpy
Today we are going to season two pans, one new (a "fajita" pan I got for my birthday) and an 8" skillet I left on the floor of my garage for 5 months, where it got nice and rusty.
First step is to get rid of all the rust on the older pan, which you can do with a metal scrubby...
... but that takes a lot of time and effort, so do what I did and hit the hardware store and pick up a stiff metal brush that will fit on your drill.
A few minutes of hot hot power tool action and you'll have a rust-free pan.
OK, we're all set to season, so for each pan: wash lightly with soap. Rinse the ever loving bejeepers out of it and realize that this is the last time that soap will ever touch it. Dry very, very thoroughly. Get some crisco / vegetable shortening (or bacon fat, if you have some laying around) and using a rag / paper towel, apply a thin coat all over every nook and cranny of the pan. Place the pan upside down (so fat does not pool in the bottom) on the top rack of your oven. Place cookie sheets / tin foil under on the bottom rack to catch fat that will drip.
Turn on oven to 400 and ventilate well, as there will be smoke (if not at this stage, in step 6). Come back an hour / hour and fifteen minutes later and crank your best burner to high. Remove the pan from the oven, and for the love of your unburned flesh, realize that it is very, very, very, very, very hot. Place on the burner for 10 mins. or so. You can skip this step if you like, but I find it really helps.
pr0k edit: (Definitely skip this step until you know what you're doing, some people are burning the seasoning right back off due to differences on what people think "high" or "ten minutes or so" are I guess.)
Turn off the burner, and let the pan cool down. This will take a lot longer than you think. When it's possible to touch without screaming in pain, wipe out the bottom good with paper towel, then add a couple teaspoons of oil and rub down the inside surface to coat. Always do this before you store your cast iron. Congrats, you have a seasoned cast iron pan you can use for the rest of your life!
Over time, the pan will get darker and darker until it's jet black. Here's the new pan after only three uses (two steaks and some crusted fish):