For those of us who enjoy camp cooking in and on cast iron, pre-seasoned cast iron is the greatest invention since … well … cast iron! Yet even the finest pre-seasoned cast iron requires maintenance and, sometimes, re-seasoning. For years, I’ve followed the directions to use a light coating of vegetable oil, but it never inspired confidence I was doing it right or well enough.
Then I was introduced to Cast Iron Conditioner. I gave it a try, and I’m seriously impressed. Just buffing up a fry pan or a Dutch Oven with this stuff prevents rust and leaves a perfect, glassy cooking finish. Camp Chef’s Cast Iron Conditioner is a natural formula relying on plant products to preserve and season your cast iron. It does not go rancid and allows for tastier meals. (So you don’t have to send it out to chemical analysis to figure out what’s in it, I learned Camp Chef Cast Iron Conditioner is basically palm oil with some vitamin e in it as a preservative.)
Camp Chef Cast Iron Conditioner comes in a tube sort of like tooth paste. It’s sensitive to temperature, so if it’s cool and doesn’t squeeze well, just roll and massage the tube between your hands to warm it. It wll then squeeze out easily.
After I’ve boiled out the cast iron with water and dried it thoroughly, I squeeze a dollop of the grease into the center of the pan. Assuring it’s cool enough to touch, I’ll rub the inside and outside surfaces thoroughly with conditioner. Then I take a paper towel and wipe off the excess. Takes less than 30 seconds and leaves the vessel ready to cook the next meal.
Over time, this will make your cast iron black, creating a finish called a “patina.” This patina will enhance your cast iron by creating a glasslike finish, which also creates a nonstick surface.
One sure way to take the season out of your cast iron is to use soap on it. Some cooks will tell you that certain soaps won’t penetrate the patina, but I say why risk it. I clean my cast iron with boiling water and elbow grease. As the patina deepens, you’ll have less and less sticking, but for any residue stuck on the surface, just scrape it off carefully with a spatula as the water boils.
For storing my Dutch Ovens, I fold over pieces of paper towel and insert them between the oven and the lid to allow a small amount of air circulation just in case there would be moisture inside. Then I store the ovens in a big storage bin with snap on, but not airtight lids.