Is it okay to use extra virgin olive oil to season a pan?
I wouldn't recommend using extra virgin olive oil, simply because you are paying a premium for the extra virgin part. That said, pretty much any cooking oil can be used to season frying pans. I use regular olive oil to season my cast iron pans, but you have to be careful with it, since too thick a layer of olive oil can result in a sticky surface, instead of a hard glossy one.
Soy, corn, sunflower and flaxseed oil are especially good for seasoning pans. Heat and oxygen cause the fatty acids in the oil to undergo a chemical change which causes them to bind together to make a tough durable surface through the process of polymerization. This reaction appears to work best with highly unsaturated oils like the above.
To season a pan, preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Preheat the pan on the stove top. When warm, coat the inside surfaces of the pan with oil. Continue to heat just until you see ripples appear on the surface of the oil. At this point, pour off any excess oil, give it a quick wipe with a folded paper towel held in a pair of kitchen tongs, and then put the pan into the oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature. You may want to repeat this process a second time on new pans. Already seasoned pans benefit from an occasional re-seasoning.
Seasoned pans should not be washed in the dishwasher or scoured with abrasive cleaners or pads, as this will remove the coating. Wash in warm water with a small amount of dish soap and dry immediately.
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