Before I came to work for a cookware company, my concept of seasoning was limited to anything I could drizzle, shake and pour over my food to make it taste better. I soon learned that “seasoning” also applies to the very pans I use to cook my food.
A pan’s interior cooking surface can be seasoned to allow food to cook without sticking. It isn’t necessary to “season” nonstick cookware, since its surface is already “stick-free.”
The same holds true for natural cast iron cookware that’s been pre-seasoned. Traditionally, natural cast iron cookware required seasoning. Cooks would rub oil on the cooking surface and bake the pan in the over before its first use. Preseasoned cast iron cookware has conveniently done away with this step, freeing up precious cooking – and eating – time. Time is especially helpful if you get carried away watching a TV show, resulting in an overdone pot roast that’s tougher than leather and you need to start over from scratch. (Not that I’m speaking from personal experience.)
As for stainless steel cookware, “seasoning” the pan is really about seasoning the cooking surface with a small amount of oil or butter right before you cook to help with food release. Experiment with different flavored oils and butters to enhance the flavor of your food. How about a garlic-infused olive oil or herbed butter the next time you cook a chicken breast?
To season or not to season? Your food, sure. My food, definitely. Your cookware? Yes, with stainless steel if you want flavor enhancement and easy food release; and, yes, for natural cast iron cookware if unseasoned. Otherwise, it’s only necessary to start cooking and enjoying your delicious food.