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Apr 12, 2011 08:17 AM

Too late to season a pan?

I recently came into possession of quite an old Le Creuset Cast Iron frying pan (not enamelled).

I have not used cast iron before but I know that it should be seasoned before use.

The only problem is that before the pan was given to me, it was kept in storage as an unwanted present, then it was used a couple of times by the previous owner. (Without being seasoned).

Now I am not sure if it is too late to season it if it has already been used?

Oh, and I want to use the pan to make a Tarte Tatin but I have read bad things about cast-iron not being non-stick, which could potentially ruin a Tarte Tatin! Especially if the pan hasnt been seasoned!

I'll give it a go anyway but would love some advice before I do.

Thanks in advance :)

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  1. Elemy: "I want to use the pan to make a Tarte Tatin ..."

    If the pan is not yet seasoned, you will not be able to have it properly nonstick to make that Tarte Tatin before the weekend. Seasoning takes time.

    That said, your pan ceertainly is not ruined, and it can be seasoned. In all probablility, you are good to go right now; but, if you have any doubt, the fail-safe method to get your pan ready to season is to run it through the self-clean cycle of your oven, which will turn any existing surface gunk to ash. Then rinse and scrubb the ash out without soap and -- immediately -- after towel drying the pan, set it on a burner on law to get it completely dry before any rust can set in.

    After that, there are more "recipes" for seasoning cast iron than there are recipes for pasta sauce. A very ood one, which you can find using the search function of this board, is that of contributor ThreeGigs. Good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Politeness

      That's great! I was wondering what I had to do pre-seaoning as well, so that's really helpful. Had a look at the recommended ThreeGigs post too - had no idea there was so information around about cast-iron cookware!

      Thanks a lot for your help!

    2. As far as I know, all Le Creuset skillets, whether old or new, are enameled inside as well as outside. Even if the interior is black and slightly rough, that's enamel, not bare cast iron. So your pan shouldn't need any seasoning. Enjoy!

      9 Replies
      1. re: Miss Priss

        Good point, Miss Priss. I had taken Elemy's statement that the pan was not enameled at face value, but it would be understandable that one could mistake a black matte surface for a non enameled one. If it is black matte enamel, then it should need no seasoning.

        1. re: Miss Priss

          Thanks, that's interesting! Is there anyway of telling the difference? I thought enamel was shiny!

          Good news, anyway. Can make that Tarte Tatin after all ;-)

          1. re: Elemy

            Does it feel slightly oily like a non-stick pan? That is seasoning.
            if it does and its an even black with no rust everything is fine, just use it. i've never made a tarte tatin so i can't say for sure how it will work, but seasoned cast iron is generally great for baking.

            if it looks incredibly smooth, thats enamel most likely. unless the pan is very old [pre wwII almost] even the best cast iron that isn't enameled is slightly bumpy because its cast

            1. re: j8715

              j8715, I certainly agree that seasoned cast iron is great for baking. However, if Elemy's skillet is a Le Creuset, and the interior is black, then it's certainly enameled and she (?) shouldn't have to worry about seasoning (though I can't speak to its non-stickiness). Some of the older Le Creuset skillets had shiny enameled interiors, but the company stopped making those quite a few years ago.

              1. re: Miss Priss

                she asked how to tell the difference. thats the difference.

            2. re: Elemy

              Yes, most enamel is shiny; but not this stuff. It's not always easy to tell the difference between that textured black enamel and a non-enameled, but well-seasoned, cast-iron pan with a somewhat rough surface; but I see no reason to doubt Le Creuset's own representations.

              1. re: Elemy


                MissPriss is correct. As far as I know all Le Cresuet cookware are enameled. It can be difficult to tell with untrained eyes, but there are two simple tests you can do. First, you can smell the cookware. If it has a metallic iron smell, then it is bare cast iron. Second, you can scratch the surface with an old credit card or your fingernail. If small black bits come off, then it is the seasoning.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Thanks all for the info! I guess it just confused me because it has that rough texture. But definitely no iron smell :-) Good to know now that all Le Cresuet pans are enameled inside... you learn something new every day!

                  1. re: Elemy

                    :) Let's us know when you are done with your Tarte Tatin