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Oils in Cast Iron


RonC
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Friends,

My pretty-well-seasoned Lodge has become my favorite frying and browning "machine." But, last night Alton Brown was saying that peanut, safflower, soybean, grapeseed and canola oils should NOT be used in cast iron because the oils acquire an off taste. What wasn't clear from Brown was whether he was talking about a one-use situation as opposed to saving the oil for future use. (I only use it once.) What's your experience and recommendation?

Thanks much!

Sidecar Ron

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Alton Brown was saying that peanut, safflower, soybean, grapeseed and canola oils should NOT be used in cast iron because the oils acquire an off taste. What wasn't clear from Brown was whether he was talking about a one-use situation as opposed to saving the oil for future use. (I only use it once.) What's your experience and recommendation?

Thanks much!

Sidecar Ron

I think Alton is referring to a residual build up of oil flavors after a number of single uses.

He recommends wiping thoroughly with a paper towel or cloth after use, but there will always be a residual surface, and this can build up over time. We will have to trust him on this, but I have not noticed a problem with these oils (haven't used grapeseed). I have also used olive oil, subflower oil, and corn oil with no long term effect. I don't usually get a really long term, however, since baked on crud has to removed every month or two, and I start over with re-seasoning.

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Jay, you may well be right that Alton was referring to long-term buildup. It wasn't clear (at least to me) because he was "deep frying" in the specific example and went on later to discuss storing and reusing oils.

Sidecar Ron

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Gut reaction? Utter nonsense.

The build up on the cast iron is pretty much pure carbon, and provided you scrub and rinse and heat then oil, you're all good.

Just an opinion. Never had a problem with a pan using any kind of oil, but would qualify that butter is involved 90% of the time.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Let's see ... "scrub and rinse and heat then oil" ... where do the coffee grounds and cigarette ashes fall in the sequence? :)

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

Sounds like a plan for early morning clean up after the fried chicken orgy the night before.

I have never really thought about the type of oil. I don't think the previous owner of my ancient skillet did, either. I may variously use butter, peanut oil, canola oil, Crisco, lard, whatever. The thing has retained a perfect patina for the 20 or more years that I have owned it. I never use detergent on it. I just rinse it out under very hot water and dry with paper towels. If there isn't some residual oil left I may add some but that is rarely necessary.

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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Linda (aka fifi) That's kinda been my practice too (although my skillet isn't 20 years old). Maybe Alton was being a little overly careful --- or, as I suggested, maybe he was talking about cases where you re-use the oil.

Sidecar Ron

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I do remember reading somewhere (from a more scientific-type site) that you should not re-use oil cooked in cast iron. Evidently the cast-iron reacts with the oil, rendering it somehow bad.

I just spend a few minutes trying to dredge up this information, but without success. If I can find it, I'll report back here.

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Oh wait, here's something I remember from another message board I'm on:

Mono and poly unsaturated fats like olive, corn and canola oils have some unfilled bonds that like to attach to stuff like sulphur and iron oxide, which turns them rancid and they taste bad. So the theory is that using unsaturated oil with cast iron fill all those loose bonds with iron oxides from the pan and the food will taste bad.

From a thread on the Straight Dope Message Board.

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scrub first.

then rinse.

then dry over heat.

then oil with paper towel.

then put it away.

you Americans seem to need everything spellt out... ;-)

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Notice I said that I have had my skillet for over 20 years. It is much much older than that. (I don't know how old.) I am sure it started life being fed only lard. It probably went through a period of being subjected to margarine and any number of supposedly "healthy" oils with baths in Crisco in between. Corn oil is the common lubricant for cornbread. Well, bacon grease if I have some. I just don't worry about it and it seems to do fine, even for more delicate preparations such as eggs. I do not recall ever getting any off flavors.

What? Me worry?

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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