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Cast iron: seasoning, care, and restoration


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for a cast iron grill pan, the important thing is to clean it while it's still blazing hot. get one of those stainless scourers, and a pair of longish tongs. take your food off, and leave the burner on for a couple more minutes. then pour in a couple of cups of water--watch out for the steam because it'll boil furiously. while it's boiling, grab the scourer in the tongs and scrub along and between the ridges. use a potholder or something to hold the pan still if necessary. this is like a 30 second process or so, and when you're done you don' t have to do anything--you can just let the pan sit there on the burner with the water in it until you're done eating.

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The "Gospel according to Lodge" posted up a ways seems like a good overall guide for the average pan. I just re-seasoned a pan the other day that my gf had been washing too much with soap and water. Scour out rusty spots, coat with lard and bake @ 350 for an hour.

With stubborn pots it's worth repeating this step a few times and wiping/re-coating with lard between steps to get all of the carbon out.

Our skillet was a $7 purchase from Value Village, and gets used at least once a week for all manner of things: caramelized onions, fish, bacon, searing steak (we live in an apt. so no BBQ). Great tool fr the kitchen

Is it true what they say about keeping acids out of cast iron? I've made baked beans in it and a tomato sauce once in a while...does the advice have some merit?

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  • 2 weeks later...

i just resently bought a new cast iron grill and started the seasoning process about 20 minutes ago.

i washed the grill with very hot water and soap and then dried it in the oven. i then covered the grill with shortening and put it back in the oven. the oven is set at 300 and the grill has been in the oven for about 15 minutes. my kitchen is starting to smell slightly of melted plastic....is this a normal smell?

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  • 4 months later...

My uncle just gave me his grandmother's full set of cast iron pots and pans from the late 1800s. He stored them in the garage so they are rather rusty. Any cleaning/seasoning tips? My aunt stored pot pourri in the soup cauldron so that reeks of essential oil. I thought I would just boil a big pot of onions, potatoes and water and see if that serves to extract the odor but would appreciate any other ideas. Thanks.

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Thanks for all of the advice on seasoning and cleaning rusty Griswold cast iron pots and pans from the late 1800s. I mentioned it to a friend in Louisiana. He hooked me up with a blacksmith who cleans them up by putting them in an open fire a couple times and, after cleaning them out, fills them with hog lard and slow cooks it over the outdoor fire to season the pan. I am sending them down from N.J. for him to work on.

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I was going to say turn the stinky one upside down over a fire but it just didnt seem "home doable"

I picked up a nice 12 inch skillet recently at an antique store for $10 thankfully it was in good shape

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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  • 6 months later...

A couple of months ago I purchased a Dutch Oven.

Was scared of it but I finally got the courage to season it.

Does anybody have ideas of seasoning it? I found some websites but was wondering if anybody here got better ideas?

Cheers

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Is your Dutch Oven cast iron? If so, is it enameled? If it's enameled, then you don't need to season it, but you should season regular cast iron.

I preheat my grill at the hottest temperature, throw my cast iron in just so it's warm enough to melt about 2 tablespoons of solid veg. shortening, which I smear all over the piece with a paper towel. Then, I put the piece back in the grill upside down, lower the temp. to about 500*F and let it go for about an hour. After the hour, turn the grill off and let the piece cool in the grill.

You could also do this in your oven set to 500*F, but I find the grill to be alot less messier.

Edited by JacobCooks (log)
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Is your Dutch Oven cast iron? If so, is it enameled? If it's enameled, then you don't need to season it, but you should season regular cast iron.

I preheat my grill at the hottest temperature, throw my cast iron in just so it's warm enough to melt about 2 tablespoons of solid veg. shortening, which I smear all over the piece with a paper towel. Then, I put the piece back in the grill upside down, lower the temp. to about 500*F and let it go for about an hour. After the hour, turn the grill off and let the piece cool in the grill.

You could also do this in your oven set to 500*F, but I find the grill to be alot less messier.

Thanks for the info Jacob. I'll try that.

And thanks Susan!!! :raz:

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Just wanted to add something not to do. I've seen stuff on the internet suggesting using a blowtorch to clean an old frying pan (I don't have a large grill or self cleaning oven). I tried this a couple weekends ago and not only is a propane torch underpowered for the task, the frying pan got a large crack down the side of it and is now unusable.

Don't use a blowtorch!

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  • 2 months later...

So I finally caved in and bought the only round cast-iron griddle I've been able to find around here (it's for my induction stove). The only problem is that all the instructions/packaging etc is in Japanese and I have no idea what it says.

I gave it a good scrub with a scouring pad, boiled some water in it for about 10 minutes, let steam dry, then gave it a good coating of coconut oil before putting it in a 300 degree oven.

It's been in there for about half an hour now, but I'm a little worried, now that I've been doing a bit of reading while waiting! When I was wiping the oil on with a paper towel, loads of black/brown gunk was coming off on the towel....is this normal?! :unsure:

I'm not sure if it was pre-seasoned or not, the color out of the box was black, not gunmetal gray.

This is my first piece of non-enamelled cast iron, so any help would be appreciated!

I'm really looking forward to cooking more than 4 2inch-diameter pancakes at a time :laugh: !!

Vivienne

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Vivienne -

Sounds like your pan may have been pre-seasoned, but I wouldn't worry about it. Re-seasoning shouldn't hurt. As long as the finish is slick, and not sticky, you should be fine.

Nice thing about cast iron is that it is hard to mess up. About the only way to destroy it is to break it. It seems that no matter how messed up the finish gets, you always have the option of scrubbing the heck out of it and re-seasoning it again. No worries!

__Jason

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If you have a cast iron skillet or pan that food is sticking to, and you don't have time to go through the reseasoning process, you can cheat by boiling potato peelings in it. I have no idea why this works, could be a good subject for Alton Brown to look into.

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For 'seasoning', that is presented as some obscure, delicate, mystical, quasi-religious nonsense -- just nonsense for short.

Basically the 'seasoning' is just burned-on cooking grease.

If the thing is really brand new, then maybe wipe it out with hot water and detergent and dry it, coat it with cooking oil or fat, heat it to smoking, and call it 'seasoned'. Then just cook on it. To avoid sticking, for the first few times, just use a little more oil or fat than you might otherwise. So, fry some hamburgers or bacon or make some hash browns or pancakes.

Similarly for a stamped steel Chinese wok.

Eventually the cooking surface will turn from gray to (the desirable, highly valued, revered, sought, coveted, cherished) nearly flat black.

The only realistic way I know how to destroy a cast iron skillet or pot is to break it with thermal stress, e.g., getting it too hot or pouring cold water on one that's too hot.

For lesser risks, do be aware that cast iron is really just iron so, with enough time and ordinary water, can develop a layer of bright red iron oxide (rust). You don't want that. So, after cleaning the thing, get it dry and keep it away from water.

For 'cleaning' a 'seasoned' surface, sure, basically can do anything you want -- getting the burned-on grease off is so difficult that ordinary cleaning will do very little damage to the 'delicate, pure, 100% all-natural' 'seasoning'.

One trick, though, it the useful fact that boiling water makes a fantastic solvent for nearly anything you might get on the cooking surface. So, to clean, just put some water in the thing, bring to a boil, get a wad of paper towels in one hand and a pot holder in the other, with the pot holder grab the handle of the skillet, dump nearly all the boiling water, and quickly wipe with the towels. Call it done.

For the back side, f'get about it!

The best cast iron skillets had the cooking surface machined. Now it appears that the skillets, from some cheap-o sources, are sold with the cooking surface just as it was from the sand casting. Bummer. Another nail in the coffin of the nonsense of the 'great advantages' of international trade. If all the academic economists and their world political engineering Foggy Bottom buddies were laid end to end, then it would be a good thing!

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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  • 4 months later...

i hope the answer to this question isn't glaringly obvious, or already pointed out somewhere in this thread; i couldn't find it...

i took out my only once used cast-iron skillet for my fried chicken experiment, and i tried my hand at seasoning it afterward. except that after the hour in the oven, and leaving it in overnight to cool, i pulled it out this morning, and "wiped clean" as instructed, but it never really wiped clean at all. in fact, it's sticky, and when i try to wipe the stickiness away, my paper towels get stuck in it. :angry:

i am almost certain i bought it preseasoned, but can't remember for sure (honestly, i bought it back in march and took it camping with me), and i read that it's not a bad idea to season again, so i did. well, i tried.

so unless i am misreading the meaning of "wipe clean," i had a misstep somewhere. or did i? can anyone offer me any pointers?

edited to add that i used crisco for the seasoning, if it matters.

Edited by shoutsandmurmurs (log)

"i dream of cherry pies, candy bars and chocolate chip cookies." -talking heads

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The sticky residue is old oil that wasn't cleaned off the first time.

Scrub the skillet with detergent, then put it on a lit burner on the stove to dry completely. Cook something with plenty of oil.

I've got a couple dozen cast iron skillets that I use every day. They lose their 'seasoning' all the time, but it doesn't really matter. Just use a little more grease.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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  • 5 months later...

I bought myself a Lodge Logic pre-seasoned skillet to replace my beloved ancient one (lost due to divorce), and I haven't used it yet, because it doesn't look or feel seasoned yet to me.

My old one was black, almost soft to the touch, and this one doesn't feel right. Question: can I season this one anyway?

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I have found the Lodge Logic line to have an inadequate "preseason" myself. I just consider it a starter season, and fry bacon in it. It won't "feel" right until you have fried a couple of pounds of bacon and a chicken in it. :biggrin:

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Part of the problem is the finish, it's been left too rough, at least in my Logic skillet. I must have "seasoned" it 6 times before I bought a book on cast iron cooking. Once you've given it it's initial oven seasoning (if you use crisco use a small amount and go 4 hours), fry things in it with peanut oil. I fry onions rings twice a month now and my skillet is slick and non-stick. If I buy another piece it will not be a Logic.

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I've got a couple dozen cast iron skillets that I use every day. They lose their 'seasoning' all the time, but it doesn't really matter. Just use a little more grease.

"Seasoning" is an ongoing process, more-or-less synonymous with "use."

BB

Food is all about history and geography.

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  • 1 year later...

OK, in what is perhaps the dumbest cast iron question ever: what is the stuff supposed to look like when it's properly seasoned? Black, I assume? Is it shiny? Matte?

I ask because I took it into my head the other day to take one of my new Lodge pre-seasoned pans and go at it with a power sander to smooth out the inside bottom of the pan (they are very rough and I wanted to experiment... stuff is pretty cheap, what's the worst I could do?). At any rate, I now have a smooth-bottomed, metal-colored (i.e. not black) cast iron pan. I filled it with veg. oil and popped it in the over for a few hours, cooled, wiped out, etc. Repeated this three times. Then I fried up a grilled cheese with lotsa butter, and some bratwurst, again in lots of oil. Well, the bottom is still basically metal colored. Does it just take a long time to build up that black coating?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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You want to "paint" on a skim of oil on the surface and bake it on. It takes several applications to develop what is essentially a baked-on oil residue - much like the stuff that accidentally develops on the floor and walls of your oven over time.

I'll take a photo of one of my antique, but still in service, cast iron pans so you can see the "finished" but ongoing surface.

The trick is to wipe the pan out with paper towels (or rags that can be discarded) immediately after cooking anything in it.

If something should stick just pour hot water into the pan, swirl it around, pour it out and wipe clean. Don't use detergent.

This is a Griswold skillet purchased by my great grandmother in 1898 and in continuous use since that time.

(My cornbread pan!)

It is totally non-stick....

Griswold1898.jpg

Griswoldmacro8.jpg

And here's a picture from my "Cornbread from scratch" post showing it in action :wub:

gallery_17399_60_85736.jpg

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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