How to Season A Pizza Stone – The Easy Way
We all know there’s no such thing as bad pizza.
What there is, though, is a real big difference between good pizza and great pizza.
This difference is often in the dough. And the dough produced from a seasoned pizza stone is a level above the flavorless dough from an unseasoned pizza stone.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to season a pizza stone to get the most amount of flavor and the best possible pizza from your home oven.
Season a Pizza Stone In Short:
First, check your manual for any special instructions. Wipe the pizza stone down (no soap). Let it air dry, then apply a layer of vegetable oil to season it. Bake it on the maximum heat for 30-60 minutes to ‘bake in’ the oil layer. Then let the seasoned stone cool in the oven.
That’s the quick version.
Want to learn the ins-and-outs of great pizza at home? Then read on.
Why Season A Pizza Stone?
Before we spend time doing something, it’s always important to understand why we’re doing it.
So why season a pizza stone? Here’s a few key improvements.
- It accelerates the seasoning process. While we can’t transform a fresh stone into a dark veteran level stone, we can accelerate the process. Seasoning your stone now will speed up the time between your stone being fresh and being packed full of added flavor.
- It looks better! Just like with a seasoned cast iron pan, a well-seasoned pizza stone speaks volumes. It looks authentic, packed full of tantalizing flavor, and promises a much better pie.
- It’s easier to cook with. Pizza stones are initially porous, so even the best dough will get stuck to it. As a layer of oil and cooked flour builds, the stone becomes more and more ‘non-stick’. Making it so much easier to work with.
- It holds heat better. The added layer helps keep heat trapped in, and is more resilient to the cold air let in when you open the oven.
- Resists damage better. You can’t scratch a stone underneath a layer of protection, which also helps mitigate thermal shock from rapid heating/cooling and act a binding layer when the stone is at risk of cracking.
- Better pizza. Ease and efficiency are great, but the real advantage here is the added flavor to your pizza. Dough cooked on a well-seasoned stone picks up some of the charcoal-ness and smokiness that you just can’t get from an unseasoned pizza stone.
- It’s only a start! Remember that this isn’t a case of a quick seasoning and your done. This step, while essential, is only the beginning of your pizza stone’s seasoning process. Which will only get better as you use it to enjoy piping hot pies over the years to come.
How to Season Any Pizza Stone
Here’s how to season a pizza stone in detail. All laid out in clear steps – be sure not to miss one!
- First – check your manual. With different types of stone come different optimal methods of seasoning them. Some actually shouldn’t be seasoned (or are already seasoned during production). You should be able to find out what you can do in the manual. Can’t find it? Try Googling your pizza stone model (if known) and it’s company.
- Never use soap. Just like a cast iron pan, I want to make it clear you should never be using soap with your pizza stone. Not only can it ruin the seasoning, it can also be dangerous since you may end up essentially cooking and eating it!
- Wipe the stone down. Using just warm water and a clean cloth or scrubber. Don’t use any steel/metal cleaners as these can scratch and harm the stone. Don’t run it under the water, but instead wet the cloth/scrubber and wipe it down manually. Submerging the stone could cause water to get into the pores, which could crack your pizza stone when the water later evaporates.
- Let it air dry. Always letting your stone air dry is important to make sure it doesn’t get thermal shock by sudden heat changes. It also takes time for any water within the pores to dry out (you can’t dry this with a towel).
- Apply oil. Using a simple oil (ie vegetable oil), apply a light coat to the stone using an cloth or towel (paper can snag). This forms the base of the seasoning layer. You don’t need much – over-oiling can prevent any moisture absorption whatsoever.
- Bake on 450-500o This is what really ‘cements’ the oil as the seasoning layer.
- Let it cool in the oven. Generally, you don’t need to take the pizza stone out of the oven. It’s fine to stay in there while you’re cooking other things. Taking it out only risks cracking from moving or thermal shock from suddenly being placed on a cold counter/rack.
Your fresh stone now has a beginning seasoning layer of oil. This will help to only improve your pizzas now, but in picking up more seasoning from the doughs you cook with.
Now with a seasoned stone, there’s one other very important thing to learn to get the most out of them..
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How to Clean & Maintain A Pizza Stone
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than the shattering of a well-seasoned pizza stone. Especially when there’s a fresh pizza on top of it!
Understanding how to clean and maintain your pizza stone means you can ensure a happy cooking partnership for years and decades to come.
Here’s a few basic principles you should always stick with:
- Use a stone or wire brush. Wire brushes especially and used in pizza restaurants around the world – they’re strong but don’t harm the pizza stone. Avoid metal/steel cleaners. These are too sharp, and can scratch the cone. Scratches can lead to other defects, particularly cracking.
- Always air dry. Ideally in the oven. If you’ve just cleaned your stone with water and try to bake it, the water will expand and put internal pressure on the stone – potentially leading to cracking.
- Never submerge or use soap. Submerging will start water penetrating into the pores deeper and deeper into the stone. This can take days to dry, and pose a huge risk of cracking. Soap can get stuck in the pores – and could end up seasoning your next pizza stone… clean, but not tasty!
- Don’t clean under running water. For the same reason as submerging – water might penetrate too deep. Instead I suggest you just grab an old towel, get it fairly wet, then use that to wipe down the stone.
- Heat above 450oF now and then. A lot of burnt pieces will naturally build up over time. Heating the stone above 450F will often burn off many of these, and make it super easy to brush down the ones that don’t.
Pizza Stone Tips
Before we close out and you dive into seasoning that stone, I want to leave you with some final best practices.
Make sure you follow these to get the most out of your stone (and best protect it from damage).
- Pizza Stones CAN Break! Never forget this. Simply being a ‘stone’ doesn’t mean that it can take all sorts of punishment from mishandling. Think of it like a bee. It’s generally happy, but if you anger it enough it’ll kill itself just to cause you an inconvenience!
- ALWAYS place in a cold oven. Thermal shock (rapid heating/cooling) is one of the top causes of broken stones. Make sure the stone is in the oven before you start heating. It’s not like an oven tray.
- Keep it in the oven. Unless there’s a funky smell (or funky smelling food), there’s no need to take the stone out of your oven. The slow heating/cooling won’t affect it.
- Don’t place heavy objects on it. These risk scratching/cracking the stone.
- Taking the stone out? Don’t place it on a cold counter/rack. Fold a towel and use that instead (to prevent thermal shock).
- Don’t use frozen pizza. This is another way of asking for a sudden crack due to the hot/cold face off. Let the frozen pizza warm up to room temperature – it’ll still come out amazing thanks to your stone.
- Try sprinkling cornmeal / flour on the stone. These not only add flavor and help your dough move around, they also get included into the seasoning layer to give the same benefits in the long run.
A good pizza stone can make a huge difference in your day-to-day living.
Suddenly a good home-made or supermarket pizza can start to rival the local takeout.
And a seasoned pizza stone is the key to getting the most out of your home pizzas.
I hope this quick guide has helped you understand how to season your stone. May it make you hundreds of incredible pies over the years.
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Thanks for reading. Bon appetit!