Saturday, March 06, 2010


Jim from Traverse City thinks that he heard a reference to a rifle being seasoned before being used, and he wants to know if that is proper usage.

The word seasoning (the culinary arts being left out for the moment) is used in a variety of fields to indicate a preparation or breaking-in process.

I went to Cabela’s web site to confirm the gun terminology: “The seasoning or breaking-in process is important because it will smooth any imperfections left in the bore from the manufacturing process, according to Cabela's gunsmith David Orten. If not dealt with properly, the imperfections can adversely affect your rifle's performance.”

“THE BREAKING-IN PROCESS. Clean the barrel after every shot for the first 10 shots and then after every second shot up to the 20th shot. Some hard-cores recommend cleaning the barrel after each of the first five shots and after every five shots for the next 50 shots.”

In another field, experienced carpenters know that it is good practice to use seasoned lumber, wood that has been dried to maturity. Otherwise, cracks and distortions will eventually show up in a structure built with green wood.

The tempering and hardening of metal is also called seasoning. And when it comes to metal cookware, your pots, woks, griddles and other items should be seasoned so that food doesn’t stick to them. Generally, heated animal fat or vegetable oil is used.

After leather has been tanned, a protective finish is often added. This is also called seasoning. I was delighted to find an eight-ounce bottle of bagpipe seasoning being sold on eBay. No, I don’t play the bagpipes; I just find the idea offbeat enough to be amusing.

One step in the process of curing tobacco leaves is time spent in the seasoning room. It is an important part of the aging process. Since tobacco absorbs the oils and aromas of material around it, all of the leaves kept in the seasoning room at the same time will end up with a uniform smell and taste.

Finally, the word is also applied to human beings who must go through the process of adjusting to an unfamiliar climate. Macaulay’s History of England contains this use: “This was merely the seasoning which people who passed from one country to another must expect.”

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