What does seasoning a cast iron pot or skillet mean? Seasoning is the term to describe the process of sealing your cookware to protect it from rusting. The basic process of seasoning cast iron cookware involves heating your cookware and applying heat to the pot. Oil is absorbed into the pores of the cookware and servers several purposes. First, a well seasoned cast iron pot won't rust easily. Secondly, your well seasoned cast iron skillet will be virtually non-stick.
Do I need to season my cast iron cookware? At some point all cast iron will need to be reseasoned. The current trend in cast iron pots and pans is to have them preseasoned as they are made. Vegetable oil is spread over the surface of the cookware and then baked into the pots before they ever leave the factory. A similar process can be replicated in your kitchen to reseason the cookware. Unseasoned cast iron cookware should be seasoned before it is used.
Your cookware will likely come with exact seasoning instructions. You can usually use one of many techniques. Most brands recommend that you apply a layer of melted vegetable shortening too the cookware. Then heating the pot or pan in the oven at 350F for an hour. Let the cookware cool then remove from the oven. Others prefer to season their cast iron on their stovetops. Apply vegetable oil to the cast iron pot and rub it in with a rag. Heat the pot on the stove top and wipe away excess oil. When the pot begins to smoke lightly, remove it from heat and reapply oil. Repeat these steps and then allow to cool. There are even others who prefer to season their cast iron outdoors over open fires. They apply the oil then place the cookware over an open flame. This process often leaves the pot covered with a black soot and also is the reason why some refer to the seasoning process as burning a black pot.
I hope this helps you to better understand what seasoning cast iron cookware means, and how you can achieve this no matter what your settings are. Properly seasoning your cast iron is critical for keeping your cookware in its best possible condition.