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Cast iron pan problem


Wilfrid
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Aluminum doesn't require seasoning, and indeed won't really take it, like cast iron. And the whole cleaning and seasoning deal doesn't have to be complicated. I use my cast iron daily, and the skillets lose their seasoning all the time...if you cook something a bit acidic, like anything with tomatoes or, surprisingly, wild mushrooms (dry sauteed), it can remove the stuff that's down in the open pores of the metal. But all it takes is cooking in the same pan with a bit of fat to re-season.

The only thing you really must do, at least if you want to avoid rust, is dry cast iron after washing (and I use dish soap on mine all the time...if the pan is really oily, it's the only way to get it clean). The easiest way is by putting the pan back on a hot burner. I leave it until I start to smell something burning, wonder aloud several times, "what the hell is that smell?" and finally remember that I'm drying a pan.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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  • 1 year later...

All this information is well and good for a regular cast iron skillet. But what about grill pans? I have two, a long double burner sized with a griddle on one side and grill on the other and a round skillet with the grill bars. How do people clean these things? Even after soaking the crud is almost impossible to get out from between the grill bars.

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All this information is well and good for a regular cast iron skillet. But what about grill pans? I have two, a long double burner sized with a griddle on one side and grill on the other and a round skillet with the grill bars. How do people clean these things? Even after soaking the crud is almost impossible to get out from between the grill bars.

Have you tried a Scotch Brite pad as Suzanne F notes above (about 4 posts)?

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I've got the same problem with crud in my old grill pan as Rachel reports. After cooking, I put water in it and let the crud soak a bit. A little liquid soap and a plastic scrub pad gets most of it out if the pan. After washing, I heat it on the burner and rub in a little oil. Seems to work fine, but it is only used for grilling -- no sauces or anything like that.

Our big problem is the amount of smoke it generates while heating/cooking. Our exhaust fan recirculates into the kitchen thru carbon filters, but can't handle the smoke. We end up pointing a portable fan out the window to clear smoke out of the kitchen!!

Are we doing something wrong or does everyone get a lot of smoke w/ cast iron grill pans?? Does this mean the pan isn't clean enough or is the heat too high??

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Those are for tourists. :wink:

Seriously, those pads won't conform to the curves and ridges of grill pans without serious fingers fatigue. The stainless sponge does so effortlessly (here's a version that might be a little more pleasant to use). I don't know about Home Depot. I've only found them at restaurant supply stores.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Oh, I was thinking of these, I'll have to try to find the stainless steel scrubber, are they available in normal supermarkets or do I have to go to Home Depot or somewhere like that?

rachel, they're available at Kings near me. perhaps not the same brand, but they're certainly no joke and do the trick. fat guy turned me on to these over 2 years ago (damn, i think i'm still using the same two! time to get more).

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I can't believe no one has mentioned deglazing for cleaning your cast iron -- it's not just for making pan sauces. But let's say you're not making a pan sauce, after you remove the food and the pan is still hot (the hotter the better), throw in some water and use your thin metal spatula to pick everything up, it works like a charm. I then just rinse out the pan and wipe down with a sponge like Rachel's. Then just throw it back on low heat and it's dried in a couple of minutes or by the time dinner is over. Of course if you do make a pan sauce (mmm, wine and butter), you've already deglazed and all you have to do is rinse and dry. This would work well for grill pans too though without the spatula.

The last time I had to season cast iron, I threw them in the oven upside down for 4 hours at 350F after cleaning them and adding crisco. Then I left them in there for a couple of weeks since I didn't need to use them and then whenever I used the oven, I'd get more seasoning out of them. But these were for smaller, rare us pans.

If you use your cast iron almost every day like I do, you don't need a seperate "seasoning" once a year. If you loose some seasoning (let's say you forgot you left it to dry on too high of a heat or you're heating up some steaks), the next time you use it, throw in a little extra of your lipid of choice, it'll be fine. With constant usage, cast iron reseasons itself.

I absolutely love my cast iron -- so much so that I'm taking it with me when I visit my folks because they're annodized aluminum cookware that was so expensive doesn't hold a candle to my cheap ass pan.

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If you use your cast iron almost every day like I do, you don't need a seperate "seasoning" once a year. If you loose some seasoning (let's say you forgot you left it to dry on too high of a heat or you're heating up some steaks), the next time you use it, throw in a little extra of your lipid of choice, it'll be fine. With constant usage, cast iron reseasons itself.

I absolutely love my cast iron -- so much so that I'm taking it with me when I visit my folks because they're annodized aluminum cookware that was so expensive doesn't hold a candle to my cheap ass pan.

I'm with the colonel on this one. We have a 12" cast iron skillet that we've had so long I can't even remember not owning it (wedding present, I think). After reading over and over about the wonderful properties of cooking on heavy copper, I decided to spring for a 12" 2.5mm copper Mauviel fry pan bought from these guys (click on the "copper cookware" link on the home page). I use both, but if I were forced to choose, the cast iron would get the nod hands down. And it gets used about 10:1 over the copper.

As an aside (no, I'm not on their payroll :raz:), the folks at Country French Collection are very nice. Visited their shop near Reading on a Saturday, and the owner showed me their entire Mauviel collection. Very good prices too, from what I've seen. Perhaps a buck or two more expensive than some, but you can go and see what you're actually getting before you write the check, which is worth something to me.

THW

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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I can't believe no one has mentioned deglazing for cleaning your cast iron -- it's not just for making pan sauces. But let's say you're not making a pan sauce, after you remove the food and the pan is still hot (the hotter the better), throw in some water and use your thin metal spatula to pick everything up, it works like a charm. I then just rinse out the pan and wipe down with a sponge like Rachel's. Then just throw it back on low heat and it's dried in a couple of minutes or by the time dinner is over. Of course if you do make a pan sauce (mmm, wine and butter), you've already deglazed and all you have to do is rinse and dry. This would work well for grill pans too though without the spatula.

The last time I had to season cast iron, I threw them in the oven upside down for 4 hours at 350F after cleaning them and adding crisco. Then I left them in there for a couple of weeks since I didn't need to use them and then whenever I used the oven, I'd get more seasoning out of them. But these were for smaller, rare us pans.

If you use your cast iron almost every day like I do, you don't need a seperate "seasoning" once a year. If you loose some seasoning (let's say you forgot you left it to dry on too high of a heat or you're heating up some steaks), the next time you use it, throw in a little extra of your lipid of choice, it'll be fine. With constant usage, cast iron reseasons itself.

I absolutely love my cast iron -- so much so that I'm taking it with me when I visit my folks because they're annodized aluminum cookware that was so expensive doesn't hold a candle to my cheap ass pan.

I'm in rare disagreement with the Colonel here. I just don't think deglazing is a practical techinique on a grill pan. The shape of the pan bottom precludes the use of a spatula for anything except turning the food and scraping the peaks of the ridges. You scrape the food into the valleys of the pan, and then what do you do? What can you do? Your best bet is the edge of a spatula or wooden spoon, but you're not going to be able to do a good job.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Ah, that one with the holder (Dave the Cook's latest link) looks like just the ticket. I called and they have the regular steel balls at my local restaurant supply, the girl wasn't sure if they have the ones with the urethane holder, but I'll bring the info to request they order them.

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It's not going to work as well as on regular pans, but the boiling water does most of the work, making the job much easier in the sink with a scrubber.

However, I will say that I've never owned a grill pan or even used one so I may very well be writing out of my ass.

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Jim, these Griswolds, they were already old and well-used when you got them, no? In that case, yes, I agree: After a period of time, cast-iron becomes very forgiving. But with new pans, you have to be more careful. It takes many uses to build the first seasoning layer (for lack of a better term), and if you don't build it properly you don't have the foundation for a great pan. This is simply my experience, though, and not scientific fact. I don't truly understand this seasoning business at the molecular level.

Actually, my best luck with cast iron has come from allowing the sticky residue to form.

On a molecular level, what you are trying to do IS to break the bonds in the oil so that 1: carbon atoms fill the gaps between the iron atoms on the surface making a smoother harder surface 2: providing a good place for the oil to attach. My understanding is that you are actually chemically attaching the grease to the surface. You are creating a real chemical bond between the oil and the pan. The way you need to do this is either heat up the oil to the smoke point (quick method) and cool it in room temperature air with good ventilation [read on the stove under the hood] or heat it for a longer time at a lower temperature. 350 for an hour with a good covering of crisco will provide a great amount of seasoning.

Best of luck with your great cooking utensil!

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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  • 4 months later...

I have a twist on this question: I inherited a 12" cast-iron frying pan that's at least two generations old, and I nursed it back to health. The surface is well on its way to being like I want it. The question is, the OUTSIDE of the pan is all cracked and bubbly. I did what I could, but it's still kind of nasty.

In order to try and rehab the outside, should I steel-wool it and then try to season it so it matches the look of the rest of the pan? Or is there a better way to do this?

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I just enjoy looking at the shiny black build-up on the outside of my ancient pan. It reminds me of patent leather shoes. I would never dream of removing it. That would be like cutting down a 300 year old oak tree.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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My sympathies are with hathor and fifi, but that doesn't answer your question.

Most likely what you've got there is polymerized fat (I think there's an explanation upthread somewhere), and it's going to be tough. I'd start with a stiff wire brush to break up the surface, move on to a stainless steel scrubber, then finish up with steel wool.

Or you could just have it bead blasted.

Or put it in your oven and turn on the self-cleaning cycle, but then you'd have to reseason the whole pan. This wouldn't bother me, but, as hathor said, there are always other opinions. I think the value of heirloom-aged seasoning is more emotional than practical.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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