I purchased a very nice soapstone cooking pot recently. The instructions suggest curing the pot as followings:
Rinse the pot with water and allow to dry. Amply oil the soapstone pot inside and out, top and bottom, with your favorite cooking oil. All about 24 hours for the stone to absorb the oil. Fill the pot with water to the line of the metal ribbon. Bring the water to a boil (medium-low heat setting on flame or element), and allow it to boil uncovered for 30 minutes. Turn heat off and let the water return to room temperature. (This will take a long time.) Repeat the boiling process, refilling with water if necessary. Meanwhile, place the oiled lid in a cool oven, turning the heat to moderate (250 to 350 degrees F). Bake the lid for 15-30 minutes. Turn off the oven, allow the lid to cool, and then repeat the process. Your pot is now cured.
In my mind, the most important consideration was which cooking oil to use. After asking around and considering everything from coconut oil, mustard seed oil, macadamia nut oil to avocado seed oil, I finally settle on ghee. A friend who has been cooking with stoneware for a long time told me that ghee is his preferred choice for curing stone cookware. Note that all the oils I was considering are known for being very stable under heat.
However, realizing that the oil will remain in the stone for a long period of time while being subjected to repeated heat, I was concerned about the oil developing peroxides and free radicals. Quite frankly, I almost considered not curing the pot, but that probably would have led to it being cured by default with whatever I cooked the first few times; so I felt I had to cure it properly.
The best idea I came up with was to sautee high-antioxidant spices in the ghee and use that mixture to cure the pot. I did a bit of research and came up with a list of spices that are known to be the highest in antioxidants. Then I narrowed the list down to the spices I commonly use for cooking. Here is what I used:
- cloves (2 whole pieces)
- cinnamon (1/5th tsp)
- oregano (1/5 tsp)
- turmeric (1/4 tsp)
- basil (1/4 tsp)
- cumin (1/4 tsp)
- brown mustard seeds (1/4 tsp)
- rosemary (1/4 tsp)
- thyme (1/4 tsp)
- ginger (1/2 tsp)
- saffron (a few threads)
I sauteed these organic spices in 2 tbsp organic ghee from Pure Indian Foods for about 5 minutes (keeping temperature below 300). I was very pleasantly surprised at the wonderful aroma. I had not intended to come up with a tasty mixture, but it ended up being wonderful. (I poured a little on some food to sample it.)
As I type this, my stone pot is being cured.