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Kim Shook

Cast iron: seasoning, care, and restoration

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Sorry to say but those bamboo brushes might be good for a routine rinse after cooking by washing down a hot pan with hot water and giving the inside a good swirl and scrape, but for really charred and stuck on messes, it is useless and gimmicky. At most it scrapes off the top of charred bits but never really removes them. Its effectiveness is mostly placebo.. what it removes could be removed easily by any light abrasive, like a paper towel or a plastic pot scrubber.  Not to mention it will fall apart with regular use in a couple months. I've gone through a dozen of them before I gave up. There's a reason why they are dirt cheap. I keep one by my decorative wok for hipster value

 

Sorry to hear that the bamboo brush does not work for you, even it works for millions of chinese restaurants. Including modern Chinese restaurant upscale kitchens.

 

Like this one:

 

 

Also sorry that yours have a habit of falling apart, even bamboo is stronger than steel in tensile strength. and water proof for building rafts. I am sure you don't cook as many dishes every day as the chefs in a busy Chinese restaurant.

 

When using the bamboo brush, depending on how far up or dwon you hold the body of the brush, the brisltes can be very flexible or very stiff for scraping.

 

dcarch


Edited by dcarch (log)

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I remember some discussion on an outdoorsman's TV show where they would use coarse sharp sand from a creek bed and a medium sized pine cone to scour the surface of iron ware.  Then wash it with mild soap, rinse & dry,  before treating it with a light coating of oil to prevent rust.  So if anyone wants to try that on their next camping trip,  there you are.

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....treating it with a light coating of oil to prevent rust.  

 

If rust is a possibility the seasoning has been abused.


~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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I have one; I use it to clean the (very hefty) grates on my Komodo Kamado.

 

When I tried it on an old cast iron pan (not one I've been responsible for maintaining) I saw it leaving dull lines. Probably ski tracks in hardened gunk passing as seasoning. No idea what it would do to a properly seasoned pan, mine clean with water and a quick wipe of a paper towel. I then always do a quick season before putting away, a bit of duck fat and a blast of heat, then wipe out what I can.

 

My favorite pans in the cast iron / carbon steel category are Spring USA (not Lodge, "vintage" or any of the French brands, all of which I've tried). I have and don't like All-Clad stainless steel. I have a few Henckels Thermolon ceramic nonstick pans, and they're a game-changing new category, with the heft of All-Clad and a worthy successor to conventional nonstick. So my carbon steel pans are a romantic indulgence, that I use when I can.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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I am sure you don't cook as many dishes every day as the chefs in a busy Chinese restaurant.

 

 

That is exactly the reason why bamboo brushes are impractical as a cast iron cleaner for home cooks. Woks see so much use in Chinese restaurants that they build up perfect patinas and virtually everything slides away.  The super high heat from their rocket powered stoves I'm sure also contributes to preventing things from sticking. The woks they use are probably cheap enough that if they become warped or charred they'll end up just throwing it away and getting a new one. Not a very practical thing for a home cook. Bamboo brushes are more suited to the rounded shape of the wok anyway than the flat surface of most american cast iron cookware.

 

In the video, it looks like he uses the bamboo brush for the exactly the same purpose and exactly the same way I mentioned. Hot pan, "deglaze" with water, sweep away the bits. The action of the brush is a sweeping motion, not an aggressive abrasive action that is required to get really charred and stuck food. The food gets mostly unstuck by flash boiling of water and temperature differential by adding water to a hot pan, not solely by the action of the bamboo brush itself. I do it all the time with my cast iron - heat it up until smoking, "deglaze", wipe out with paper towel. I'd like to see him use that brush to get out a sugary cornstarch sauce that a homecook accidentally left on a stove and burnt to to a crisp 

 

If stuff is getting really stuck and really charred and really messed, my guess is the seasoning on what it's getting stuck and charred onto isn't exactly right.

 

9 times out of 10 that's what it is. A seasoning that is relatively new, one that hasn't been fully polymerized, or an uneven seasoning due to flaking or scratching. Luckily as long as you get the charred parts out, the seasoning will repair itself over time with good and proper use.

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That is exactly the reason why bamboo brushes are impractical as a cast iron cleaner for home cooks. Woks see so much use in Chinese restaurants that they build up perfect patinas and virtually everything slides away.  The super high heat from their rocket powered stoves I'm sure also contributes to preventing things from sticking. The woks they use are probably cheap enough that if they become warped or charred they'll end up just throwing it away and getting a new one. Not a very practical thing for a home cook. Bamboo brushes are more suited to the rounded shape of the wok anyway than the flat surface of most american cast iron cookware.

 

In the video, it looks like he uses the bamboo brush for the exactly the same purpose and exactly the same way I mentioned. Hot pan, "deglaze" with water, sweep away the bits. The action of the brush is a sweeping motion, not an aggressive abrasive action that is required to get really charred and stuck food. The food gets mostly unstuck by flash boiling of water and temperature differential by adding water to a hot pan, not solely by the action of the bamboo brush itself. I do it all the time with my cast iron - heat it up until smoking, "deglaze", wipe out with paper towel. I'd like to see him use that brush to get out a sugary cornstarch sauce that a homecook accidentally left on a stove and burnt to to a crisp 

 

 

9 times out of 10 that's what it is. A seasoning that is relatively new, one that hasn't been fully polymerized, or an uneven seasoning due to flaking or scratching. Luckily as long as you get the charred parts out, the seasoning will repair itself over time with good and proper use.

 

 

This is not to say what your are saying is not true. We all have different ways of using kitchen tools and appliances. I will accept and will not dispute that it has not work out for you. 

 

All I am saying is that the bamboo brush is used extensively in heavy duty commercial kitchens by the millions day in and day out. I will say further that it is used in many home kitchens as well. For them, it is a lot more than "I keep one by my decorative wok for hipster value"

 

Don't forget, cast iron cookware and wok were first invented by the Chinese. 

 

dcarch

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Heck, even Ruhlman sells one.....it must be a good thing.  :wink:


~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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I remember some discussion on an outdoorsman's TV show where they would use coarse sharp sand from a creek bed and a medium sized pine cone to scour the surface of iron ware. Then wash it with mild soap, rinse & dry, before treating it with a light coating of oil to prevent rust.

This isn't too far off. Instead of the sand and a pine cone use some coarse salt and paper towels. Rub the salt against the pan with the towel and it acts similarly to a scouring pad.


"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Heck, even Ruhlman sells one.....it must be a good thing.  :wink:

 

I actually bought one from him awhile ago when I thought it was the a new (to me) great thing. I used it. It was ok. I didn't use it a lot, but some of the bamboo sticks broke, but even worse the glue was coming undone at the bottom. I never bothered asking for a replacement so maybe I would have gotten one. I also noticed that when I spread the sticks apart slightly to look "inside" it, there was grayish coloring all over. Almost like mold, if not mold. I wasn't crazy about them so once I saw that I didn't bother with it and just threw it out.

 

For my cast iron I use a scotchbrite sponge that has a rough side and a soft spongy side. Mostly use the rough side to get the stuck stuff off and then the soft side to make sure it is all out.

 

I only really use my cast iron for high heat searing (400F +) and because of that the seasoning went pretty quickly. Then my fiance left some leftover taco meat in it over night, the fat congealed, I guess there was moisture in it as well since once I cleaned it I had rust spots all over.

 

Since I'm here, a scotchbrite sponge's rough side wouldn't be enough to take away a lot of the seasoning would it? And I assume I am going to need something stronger to get rid of the rust before I can re-season it right?


Edited by Robenco15 (log)

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If you want to remove the current seasoning and re-season, short of electrolysis, basic oven cleaner and the green scrotch-brite pads works well. Scouring powder also helps.

I've done it that way many many times.

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~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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I have one of the stainless chainmail cleaners and have stopped using it. I had been looking for a longer lasting solution than the green scrubber pads that I use but found that when scrubbing anything that was really attached to the pot I was scratching the seasoning on my skillets. It seemed like a great idea to get off the heavier debris that clogs the pads but just didn't work out for me.

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I know a light reseasoning is standard when drying a pan on the stove after use, but does that include the bottom of the pan? I have a Lodge and a de Buyer steel pan, both are pretty nice on the inside, but the bottoms of both are gunky and even rusty in spots. It never really bothered me, but I have a 75+ year old Griswold coming in via eBay, and I don't want the bottom of it getting nasty, at least not in terms of rust.  So what's the solution, reseason the bottom along with the interior, or something else?

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I've never seasoned pan bottoms, but I do make sure they are clean and dry after each use. After rinsing off pans I do a quick towel dry to absorb moisture; low flame on stove after the interior oil wipe usually takes care of rest of drying on bottom.


Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I season the entire pan.

No rust.

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~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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The Griswold #5 cleaned up nicely. Here it is ready for seasoning:

 

Griswold No 5 ready for seasoning.jpg

 

I am not as happy as I could be with how the cooking surface came out after 3 rounds of seasoning. Hopefully some cooking in it will help.

 

Griswold No 5 interior seasoned.jpg

 

Griswold No 5 exterior seasoned.jpg

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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The pan looks pretty good in the pictures.  Have you tried going over the interior with the steel brushes mounted on a drill, as in the video?  In any case, it seems that cleaning the skillets using the self-cleaning feature of your oven is working out well for you.  I've only done one pan in that manner and had good results.  I may try running my old Lodge through the process to see if I can make the surface a little better and smoother.


 ... Shel


 

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Shel_B, I went to Lowes and purchased a 2" cup brush as shown in the video.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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This is a particularly good piece.  Just use goggles when working with lye.

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Let me start by saying I am having fun restoring cast iron. I am also learning some things about why I want Griswold, BSR, etc instead of Lodge.

 

I documented the restoration of my first 2 pans, a Griswold 8 and a Griswold 5, over in the "Yard Sale, Thrift Store, Junk Heap Shopping (part 2)" thread. Today I finished prepping a Lodge 10 SK (pre-1961) and a "Basic Essentials" Reversible Griddle/Grill. There is nothing like being in contact with the surfaces of these pans to show the difference between different manufacturer's surface finishes. Whereas my first use of the Griswold 5 was scrambled eggs, which did not stick, the Lodge will never see eggs. I think it would be relegated to camping if we actually camped anymore. Likewise the griddle/grill.

 

On the griddle I used the white vinegar soak to remove the substantial rust (my fault). I started with Bar Keeper's Friend and had some luck but the level of rust was beyond making this practical. About an hour and a half in the vinegar/water solution with steel wool scrubs half way through and at the finish, and then some touchup with the wire brush did the trick. It sits in the oven right now getting its first pass at seasoning. I did the first pass seasoning on the Lodge pan earlier today. I had not planned on doing the griddle seasoning also but the rust I had to deal with came from a) waiting too many days after stripping, [i was down for a week with the creeping crud] and b) allowing it to accidentally get wet, I wanted to get the first application of seasoning on to avoid more rust problems.

 

I still have the dutch oven to do but since we're supposed to get rained on like mad in a few hours that is going to wait.

 

As I said, I'm having fun.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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I just found my first BSR, a number 5, for $9.71 USD. Crusted beyond words and a small amount of rust. New project. I will most likely put either the Griswold 5 I have or this pan on ebay. I don't really need two number fives. My older daughter doesn't want cast iron since they have an electric cooktop that doesn't work with it. I am not sure if my younger daughter would use it once she and my SIL get a place of their own.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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