Q&A: What is pre-seasoned cookware?

Consumer Reports News: March 28, 2012 11:53 AM

A. Pre-seasoned means a coating of wax or vegetable oil has been applied to prevent the cookware--usually cast iron--from rusting while it sits on store shelves or in the warehouse. This cookware is ready to use straight out of the box, according to Hugh Rushing, spokesman for the Cookware Manufacturers Association, a trade group. But once food starts to stick, you'll need to season it again.

You might want a piece or two of cast iron, such as a Dutch oven or skillet, because it keeps food warm for a long time and can be used for recipes that you start on the stovetop and finish in the oven. If the cast iron isn't pre-seasoned, follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to do it. Whether it is or isn't you'll have to continue to season the pan over its lifetime. Here are the re-seasoning instructions that Lodge Logic includes with its pre-seasoned cast iron pans.

  • Preheat your oven to 350 to 400 degrees F.
  • Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. (It is okay to use soap because you are preparing to re-season the cookware).
  • Rinse and dry completely.
  • Apply a thin, even coating of melted solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware (inside and out).
  • Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any dripping.
  • Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven.
  • Bake the cookware for at least one hour. After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.
  • Store the cookware uncovered, in a dry place when cooled.

For some cooks, taking care of cast iron is too much bother and in Consumer Reports' past cookware tests, cast iron skillets cooked unevenly.That wasn't a problem for most of the nonstick and uncoated sets in our latest cookware tests. And nonstick cookware offers low-fat cooking and fast cleanup (allowing more time for dessert), so it's easy to see why it's the most popular type. You'll find 30 nonstick, "green," uncoated, and mixed cookware sets in our cookware Ratings and more advice in our buying guide.

Kimberly Janeway

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