The seasoning process is the black magic of Flat Top ownership. If you've ever owned cast iron cookware, you're probably already familiar with the term. For the uninitiated, "seasoning" refers to a natural chemical reaction where oil and fat are heated to the point where they literally bake into the steel through a process called polymerization. This transforms the raw silver steel into a gorgeous black finish with amazing non-stick properties without the use of dangerous coatings like Teflon.
Seasoning a large piece of cookware at home can be intimidating for some and achieving an even coating can take time and patience. Steelmade now offers a pre-seasoning service that makes your Flat Top ready to use for the first time straight out of the box.
How we pre-season our products
Each piece of cookware is thoroughly washed and dried before being hand sprayed using a special high volume, low pressure spray gun using a proprietary mix of natural vegetable oils. Each piece is then hung vertically in a custom-built high temperature oven to complete the seasoning process.
Things to know about pre-seasoned items
- The pre-seasoning is an initial base layer of seasoning that will continue to darken and become increasingly non-stick the more you use it. Because seasoning is a natural process created by the actual process of cooking oils and fats your seasoning layer will continue to evolve over the lifetime of the cookware. The more you use it, the better it gets!
- Each piece of cookware is hung vertically in the oven to allow excess oil to run off during the heating cycle for a uniform seasoning layer. It’s possible for there to be some visible signs of this in what may appear as small runs in the finished layer. This is normal and will even out and disappear after you begin cooking on your Flat Top.
- Both sides of your cookware will arrive pre-seasoned. However, due to the size and weight of the cookware it is possible for there to be normal handling marks on the bottom from stacking and shipping.
- Because the Flat Tops are hung vertically in the oven to allow for excess oil to run off to create a uniform seasoning layer, it’s possible for there to be a thicker layer of oil that builds up on one of the sidewalls. Some of this excess seasoning may flake off during shipping or during high heat cooking. Simply cover this area with cooking oil and it will naturally re-season.
- Inspect and clean: Start by inspecting your Flat Top for any shipping residues or debris. If necessary, gently wash the Flat Top with warm water and a mild dish soap, using a non-abrasive brush or sponge. Rinse it thoroughly and ensure it's completely dry before proceeding.
- Apply a light layer of oil: Even though pre-seasoned, it's beneficial to add a light layer of oil to the Flat Top before initial use. Rub a thin coating of cooking oil or shortening onto the cooking surface using a cloth or paper towel. This helps maintain and enhance the existing seasoning.
- Heat gradually: Preheat your Flat Top gradually to the desired cooking temperature. Start with a low heat setting and gradually increase it to your preferred level. This gradual heating helps the oil or shortening penetrate and bond with the surface, enhancing the seasoning.
- Cook with care: When using your pre-seasoned Flat Top for the first time, be mindful of the foods you choose to cook. Opt for dishes with higher fat or oil content initially, such as bacon or sausages, to help further develop the seasoning layer. Avoid cooking highly acidic foods or delicate items until the seasoning has been adequately built up.
- Clean and re-oil after use: After cooking, allow the Flat Top to cool slightly. Clean it by wiping away any food debris using a gentle brush or paper towels and warm water. Avoid using harsh soaps or abrasive materials that may strip away the seasoning. Once clean, dry the Flat Top thoroughly and apply a light layer of oil to protect the surface until its next use.
- By following these best practices, you can maintain and enhance the seasoning of your Flat Top, ensuring optimal performance and longevity.
Common issues with Pre-Seasoning
Here's a list of five common issues that can damage the seasoning layer on a steel griddle and how to avoid or repair them:
Scratching or scraping: Excessive cleaning or scratching a seasoning layer with metal utensils is a common issue that can affect seasoning. If you accidentally scratch the seasoning, you can easily repair it by re-seasoning the affected area. Clean the scratched area, apply a thin layer of oil, and heat the griddle to bake the oil into the surface. Subsequent cooking will continue to rebuild this area of the seasoning as well.
Acidic foods: Acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes, citrus juices, or vinegar, can erode the seasoning on a Flat Top. Limit the use of highly acidic foods on your Flat Top, and if you do cook with them, clean the griddle promptly after use. Scrub gently with warm water and mild soap, then reseason the griddle by applying a thin layer of oil and heating it gradually.
Excessive heat: Subjecting a Flat Top to excessively high heat can cause the seasoning to deteriorate or even burn off. Avoid using your Flat Top on high heat settings, especially for extended periods. Instead, use moderate heat levels that are sufficient for your cooking needs. If the seasoning does get damaged due to high heat, clean the griddle, reapply oil, and bake it at a moderate temperature to reestablish the seasoning layer.
Neglecting moisture: Leaving moisture on a Flat Top for extended periods can lead to rust and damage the seasoning. After cleaning your griddle, ensure it is completely dry before storing it. If rust does develop, scrub the affected area with steel wool or a scrub brush until the rust is removed. Then, thoroughly dry the griddle, apply a layer of oil, and heat it to restore the seasoning.
Harsh cleaning agents: Using harsh cleaning chemicals or abrasive cleaners on a steel griddle can strip away the seasoning layer. Avoid using strong chemicals, oven cleaners, or abrasive scouring pads. Instead, opt for mild dish soap, warm water, and a non-abrasive brush or sponge for regular cleaning. If the seasoning is compromised, clean the griddle, reseason it with a thin layer of oil, and heat it gradually to rebuild the protective coating.
By being mindful of these common issues and taking preventive measures or prompt repair actions, you can protect and maintain the seasoning layer on your Flat Top, ensuring its longevity and optimal cooking performance.