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Cast Iron Seasoning w/ Bacon: Yes or No?

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Hi Friends:

Plenty of good discussions about seasoning cast iron are back there, especially this one. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/433869

What I would like to focus on here is whether or not bacon-fat is an appropriate seasoning. The arguments against bacon I have heard are that it has a too low smoking point, and that it will go rancid as the pan is stored.

Many CH posters are pro-bacon, and I used bacon myself, but without really thinking about it. The pro-bacon argument seems to be that it is easy, and that, come on, it is bacon!!!

Is the bacon-fat-will-go-rancid argument valid? I dump all my bacon fat into a coffee can, and keep it under the sink, and it never smells rancid to me....

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  1. Disclaimer: I'm no expert, but this is a common sense opinion based on what I've read on seasoning.

    I don't really understand the "too low a smoke point" argument. On the one hand, a low smoke point is bad if you are trying to avoid making smells in the kitchen. On the other hand, smoking the oil is exactly what's required to season a pan. Burning the oil in thin layers produces the layer of carbon that is what we refer to as "seasoning." If anything, a lower smoke point is better for seasoning than a higher one. Bacon works great.

    Fats used to season your pan won't go rancid unless you haven't fully seasoned it. The fat put on the cold pan is no longer in the same chemical form at the end of seasoning, if you've done it hot enough and long enough.

    1. . If you have seasoned your pan with bacon fat and food doesn't taste rancid, where's the problem? Seasoning is just a very small amout of oil that goes into the pores of the metal. The only concern about smoking point, rancidity and the like is with oil you add to the pan to cook with. I would just go ahead and cook and enjoy.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mpalmer6c

        According to the Lodge directions when I got my unseasoned pan, you use shortening, not bacon fat. It indicated to cover the surface of the pan with shortening and put it in a very hot oven for an hour or 2. I put the instructions on a previous thred that asked the same question.

        1. re: sandih

          The only place the low-smoke point argument would seem to hold sway in my opinion would be in the initial seasoning heating. Bacon fat would make for a smokier process. Once the oils in the fat have polymerized on the surface, they are no longer, like Zedeff stated, the same substance. As for going rancid, I would argue the same thing- the coating is no longer fat/oil, but a whole new compound and therefore, not a problem.

          Now, if you were to use bacon fat to just coat the pan before storage, well...

          1. re: Scortch

            Very good and succinct answer. Here's your winner.

      2. I doubt it would hurt, but my typical method is to heat the oven to about 350, spread some crisco on the inside of the pan and turn it upside down (have something under to catch drips). Leave it in there for a couple hours, turn the oven off, and let it cool. It's well seasoned at that point and i try to cook fatty foods like bacon on it a few times initially. hope that helps

        1. If your question is, "Should I use bacon fat for the INITIAL seasoning", I agree with the consensus above, which is "Why would you? Use shortening or oil."

          If your question is, "Can I cook bacon in my seasoned pan", I'd say yes, but watch out for hot spots.

          If your question is, "Can I use bacon fat to coat my seasoned pan between uses", I have no opinion. But a spray can of oil is awfully easy to use for this.

          1. I think all of the myriad permutations are pretty well covered in that other thread? If you have bacon fat on hand, use it, although I'd clarify it first so you don't also have burned on food crud as part of your seasoning.

            Personally I don't use bacon or Crisco and almost any oil that I have on hand works just fine, too, as long as I get the pan hot enough to smoke. I like to use an unrefined peanut oil.