Light and durable, aluminum makes excellent pots and pans. It's hard to scratch, won't rust, and cools down quickly when you're done cooking. So long as it's free of any plastic handles, aluminum can go from the stovetop to the oven for incredible flexibility. Aluminum cookware is also durable, and you can extend its life even further with proper care.
Why Season an Aluminum Pan?
Seasoning a pan is a simple process that helps to prevent food from sticking to the cooking surface. To season new cookware, you just coat it with oil and heat it up. As it heats, the oil fills in any tiny cracks or imperfections in the metal to prevent food from sticking there. Aluminum releases food well on its own, but seasoning an aluminum pan can make it perform like a Teflon-coated pan.
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Ideally, you should season your aluminum pan before you use it for the first time. If it's too late for that, consider seasoning your pan anyway — especially if you're noticing food sticking to it. Seasoning your pan can still improve its performance even if you've been using it for some time.
How to Season an Aluminum Pan on the Stove
Whether your stove is gas or electric, seasoning a new pan on it is a simple process that takes about 20 minutes. This method is best on warm summer days when you don't want to heat your oven or if your cookware has handles or attachments that aren't oven safe. When seasoning a pan on the stove, make sure you never leave it unattended.
- Wash the pan and dry it thoroughly.
- Spread a layer of vegetable oil on the inside of the pan, including the sides.
- Set the pan on the stove and turn on low heat. You don't want to burn the pan, so make sure you keep the heat at a medium setting or lower.
- Get the oil as hot as you can before it starts to smoke. If it smokes, turn the heat back a bit.
- Continue heating the pan until the oil turns a light brown and ultimately dissipates. This usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes.
- Let the pan cool. If desired, you can repeat the seasoning process twice more.
- Wipe out the pan with a clean paper towel and store it until the next time you cook with it.
How to Season an Aluminum Pan in the Oven
Like seasoning a pan on a stove, seasoning one in the oven may require two or three attempts before you get the desired level of nonstick action. The process takes about the same amount of time, as well. The advantage is that you need not have eyes on the pan throughout the entire process.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash the pan thoroughly and dry it well.
- Coat the inside of the pan with a thin layer of vegetable shortening.
- Bake the pan on the middle rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the hot pan from the oven carefully and wipe away any excess oil with a clean towel.
- Allow the pan to cool and put it away. If food still sticks the next time you use the pan, season it again.