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Season a pizza stone?

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  • Liz K Jan 17, 2010 08:56 AM
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Somebody on another site suggested that pizza stones should be "seasoned" with oil, like cast iron. I've never heard of this, and it doen't seem like a good idea to me, althought I can't quite say why it seems like a bad idea...

Has anybody done this? How does it affect pizza results?

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  1. From a site called "Recipe Pizza", lots of good info. I can tell you from experience, do not immerse you stone in water, be careful not to wash, best to "scrape" off stuff with plastic spatula.

    "The pizza stone has to be preheated to a certain temperature to work and that often means leaving the oven on for quite a while before you begin to cook. Always place your stone in a cold oven and then turn the oven on. The purpose of this is to allow the stone to absorb the heat evenly. Once the stone has reached the required temperature then it is far too hot to handle with a conventional oven glove. Remember that you are working with a fire brick! If you place your cold pizza stone (no matter how expensive it was) into a hot oven it will very probably not withstand the thermal shock and it will shatter.

    The best tool to get a pizza stone out of the oven is a pizza paddle which is a large wooden handle that looks like a paddle which slides underneath the pizza and can bring the stone out. The biggest drawback in familiarizing yourself with your stone and your oven will be how much cornmeal to dust on the stone before cooking. Too little and you will never get the pizza off the stone.

    Part of the trick of using a pizza stone successfully is to season it properly. In this context seasoning a pizza stone means ensuring that when the oil seeps into it, it is cleaned so that it encourages a non stick patina which can only be acquired over time. When you take it out of the oven, place it on a heat resistant surface. I use another cold tile and let it cool down naturally. Never let your hot stone come into contact with cold water, that can make it crack.

    Cleaning your pizza stone

    Use a knife or a fork to take off the obvious pieces of pizza stuck to your stone and wash it in warm water without soap. Any form of detergent or soap will seep into the material and it will make an unwelcome addition to your next pizza, like not rinsing a glass properly and then drinking from it. When you want to store your pizza stone put it back in the oven, it helps to season it when it is new.

    1. You should NEVER apply oil to a pizza stone. A stone is a porous ceramic surface, unlike the smooth surface of cast iron and it will not season like cast iron. The best thing that you can do for a stone is to use it often.

      Put it in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F for a minimum of 30 minutes and 45 minutes is better. Back the temperature down to the temperature needed 10 minutes before you put the bread/pizza in. Do not put it in water and don't apply oil to it, EVER!

      Bread/pizza might stick to the stone for the first few minutes of baking but it will always release after the crust forms and hardens.

      1. I have never "seasoned" a pizza stone and, like you, it doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Furthermore, none of the instruction pamphlets I've read that typically accompany a pizza stone in its packaging recommend seasoning. Pizza stones (or any baking stone) "season" themselves during regular use. I find the suggestion of seasoning a stone ludicrous.

        9 Replies
        1. re: todao

          Help, I have a stone that I picked up at a garage sale and it looks like that is exactly what was done to it...it has what looks like and oil that has been cooked right onto it and the pizza sticks no matter what I try...any suggestions for cleaning it up and getting it so it will not stick,...I think it is beyond a simple soak at this point.

          1. re: Lucyann

            at what temperature do you have your oven set, and how long do you preheat the oven before putting the pizza in.

            1. re: tommy

              I have never preheated it??? I see that is what is suggested but my other one works fine without the preheat...(Im feeling kind of dense here now)...How do you get the dough onto a preheated stone???? I always have rolled my dough out on the cold stone, then added the toppings let it raise a bit them put in the oven.....sounds like Im doing it all wrong but I cant figure out how I would get a pizza onto it after its been heated.......

              1. re: Lucyann

                yes, you're doing it all wrong. buy a peel to put the pizza on the hot stone. or use an edgeless baking sheet.

                the whole idea behind a baking stone is that it gets very hot and is porous. if you're not getting it to the hottest possible temperature, you might as well make your pizza on a cookie sheet.

                1. re: tommy

                  Yup, all wrong is right and I'm not going to admit for how many years......thanks for all the replys

            2. re: Lucyann

              Since the stone is porous, the oil will have soaked in. I can't imagine how you would get it out...I think it's trashed.

              1. re: Liz K

                Mine has grease soaked into it - but nothing sticks to it. It looks kind of bad, but it works fine. It doesn't smoke or anything, either.

                1. re: Liz K

                  It will smoke a bit as the oil burns off but it will be fine.

                  LucyAnn,
                  You must preheat the stone at 500°F for 30-45 minutes before you put the pizza in. If you don't have a peel you can make the pizza on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper and bake the crust on that for 10 minutes. After the crust has set if will release and can be moved directly to the pizza stone for the final 10 minutes to crisp the crust.

                  Baking it on a cold stone will act as a insulator and result in a soft chewy crust.

                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    20 minutes for pizza is a very long time, and depending on the type of crust one is going for, incredibly long. i cook pizza in 4 minutes for the style of crust i enjoy (not dried out).

            3. Season a pizza stone by ... using it!

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Exactly!

              2. You know, I've come across this discrepancy again and again, on Chowhound and elsewhere. It was always my understanding that you use a hot, porous surface for pizza, bread, etc. because it evaporates, then whisks away, the water on the surface of the dough. This is what gives you the nice crisp crust. Seasoning would fill in the tiny 'pores' in the stone, so the water wouldn't have anywhere to go and your crust would steam, right?

                I've had some unglazed tiles for baking for a few years, but recently found a Williams-Sonoma pizza stone in a thrift shop for a couple of bucks. The W-S stone seems to be some sort of composite material, very unlike the tiles. Could the difference in recommendations for care be due to a difference in materials?

                2 Replies
                1. re: optimal forager

                  i believe your last sentence is indeed the case.

                  1. re: optimal forager

                    Irrespective of what material the stone is made of, if you oil it and heat the oven to 450 or hotter, it's going to smoke up a storm. Bad idea.

                  2. If I could piggyback a question here, I have a stone that I have had for many years. I always leave it in the bottom of the oven and when making apizza, give it at least an hour's preheat at 500 to 525, depending what I'm topping it with.

                    My question is: can I leave it in the oven when I run the cleaning cycle -- I always leave the racks in. I kind of remember reading about a guy in the NYTimes who disabled his oven locking system so he could bake his pies at 800 deg. but I'm not sure if he was using a stone or fire bricks.

                    Appreciate the help.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: junescook

                      I use quarry tiles instead of a stone and keep them in my oven all the time. They come through the self-clean cycle just fine--in fact it's a good way to clean any accumulated crud off them. I would think the same would be true of a stone.

                      1. re: sfmiller

                        Thank you, sfmiller. It is a big (16") heavy stone and that's exactly why I wanted to leave it in. I'll go for it this time. They're both due for cleaning.

                    2. Hope you don't mind an off-topic question. Can I lay a pizza stone or unglazed ceramic tiles directly on the electric heating element of an electric oven? Any problems w/ the tiles cracking due to heat applied directly to one spot relatively quickly?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: GoodGravy

                        GoodGravy, don't know the answer, but I'd guess that's a bad idea. I'd start a new post-you're more likely to get somebody's attention.

                        1. re: GoodGravy

                          the answer is no. you'll damage your oven. why not just put it on a rack?

                          1. re: tommy

                            There's only two racks and putting the stone/tiles on one rack leaves just one rack to bake with unless I get another rack which I'm considering. Thanks for the replies!