Carbon steel pans usually face a crucial comparison with the cast iron pans because both are considered the absolute favorites when it comes to usual cooking with a traditional touch over contemporary cookware.
Carbon steel, having a concentration ratio of 99 percent iron and 1 percent carbon, is quite sturdy to bear your day-to-day rough handling in the kitchen only if you feed it with scheduled seasoning and prompt cleaning services. It can last you a lifetime.
With poor heat conduction and excellent heat retention just as similar to cast iron, carbon steel almost wins in heavy-duty construction, and less price while being able to work on a variety of temperatures is a bonus. If you want to buy a good carbon steel pan without investing in the research, click here to go through the best guide about carbon steel pans and available top picks.
As for the other story, here’s how to season a carbon steel pan.
7 Simple Steps to Season Carbon Steel Pans?
Step 1: Clean the factory seasoning
Yes, most of the pans come pre-seasoned from the manufacturing hub to protect the surface from catching rust. But you don’t know what kind of seasoning ingredient or material they have used and how long it has been. Also, you can not tell if it was seasoned properly or they have just put on a protective layer using any industrial grease or wax. Therefore, as a prep, clean your new carbon steel pan with the help of warm water, dish soap, and a gentle scrubber. You need to scrub the surface religiously until the brownish or black surface catches the gray appearance because gray is deemed as a natural color of unseasoned carbon steel pans.
Step 2: Dry it promptly
One good habit you need to adopt while using seasoning pans such as carbon steel and cast iron, dry them right after you wash so there is little to no chance of moisture getting in the roots and spoiling the surface. At this very moment, you need to comprehend the sensitivity of your pan as it is excessively prone to corrosion so do not delay the drying up. Nonetheless, using either a paper towel or a neat piece of cloth, dry the surface quickly and thoroughly.
Step 3: Put it on the heat on stove
The next step after drying the carbon steel pan is to heat it. This step is quite helpful as it ensures to eliminate any leftover moisture from the previous step. The heat will determine to dry the surface of the pan even better. The heating of the pan leads us to the major step of oiling it.
You can also use the oven to heat the pan but only if the handle is oven safe. In that case, the 450°F oven setting would do good.
Step 4: Oil the pan
To oil the pan, you can choose among soybean oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and corn oil, etc. Though few experts also suggest using olive oil and flaxseed oil, these are not the most favored options in comparison to the above-mentioned alternatives. Now take some paper towels, layer them well, and circulate a few drops of oil onto them. All you need to do now is gently spread the oil all over the surface in the form of a very thin layer. The flame should be medium-low and your kitchen windows should be open, the exhaust fan turned on. Wait until the layer of oil completely dries up and transfers into a thin polymerized form. If you have accidentally spilled extra oil, the surface may turn uneven for which you will have to remove the excess oil first. Moreover, while rubbing the layered paper towel on the surface, do not rub too hard.
Step 5: Heat the pan until the color changes
After applying the first layer of oil, you need to wait until the color of the surface of the pan turns into a beautiful light brown color. This is the indicator of smooth application and successful drying of the oil into an even polymerized layer.
Step 6: Repeat the process
Now you have to repeat the same process again and again, the best is to redo it at least 3 or 4 more times. This practice will render your carbon steel a very useful nonstick surface which is ideal for cooking special Chinese cuisines and the routine breakfast eggs. Some people like the definite black coating as the result of excessive seasoning while others are satisfied even with the medium or dark brown coating. You can go about your preferred seasoning.
Step 7: Store it well
From now on you need to store your freshly seasoned carbon steel pan well enough in a clean and dry place. Moreover, to add to its shelf life, follow a strictly entitled maintenance regime and use it to make delicious meals all day long.
Why is seasoning a carbon steel pan considered important?
The practice of seasoning carbon steel and cast iron pans is inevitable to make better and everlasting use of them otherwise the surface will get unevenly textured, stained, and rough enough to cook, and not even close to good.
1- To avoid rusting
Carbon steel pans are always in danger of being rusted badly if you leave them around without the much-needed protective coating. This protective coating is named seasoning which we achieve after a detailed session of oiling the surface, heating, and repeat.
2- To enjoy the nonstick surface
You can achieve a Teflon-like cooking surface on a carbon steel pan with the simple act of seasoning and use it as an alternative to the typical nonstick pans which might turn harmful with a little change of temperature.
Therefore, on a lighter note, the afterward care of a seasoned carbon steel pan involves the avoiding of overheating the surface along with easy cleaning techniques where you need to resist harsh scrubbing and excessive rinsing. This way, you can increase the shelf life of your carbon steel pan and use it for everyday, close-to-perfect cooking that is pretty much exclusive in taste.