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using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!

              


Joined: Apr 15, 2009
Posts: 1
I once heard that it is best to heat a pan before greasing or oiling it.  This is done to prevent sticking.  Is this true?  This was general advise and not necessarily for cast iron.  In your demonstration, you greased the pan as it was heating, but you did not have any problems.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
This is the first I have heard of greasing it after heating it. 

Any ideas on what the theory is behind that?


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Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I've always heard also to grease and then heat. I can't really think of any reason why both ways wouldn't work just fine though. it seems the splatter factor might be worse putting cold grease into a hot pan....


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"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
                      


Joined: Feb 12, 2009
Posts: 14
Paul -

"So I tried grape seed oil for a couple of months. Everything started to get a gummy residue on it. I have switched back to bacon squeezins, palm oil and sunflower oil."

Did you have to burn off the gummy residue and start all over again with naked metal when that happened?

Reason I ask is, I deep fried some potatoes in my Lodge last night using safflower oil. Now, it's got a sticky patch about 2" across on the bottom. I tried rubbing salt on it and doing a stovetop seasoning with lard, but the sticky patch won't go away.

Any suggestions?

And do you have any idea why it's just that one patch that developed the stickiness? 
          


Joined: Apr 25, 2009
Posts: 20
Location: Northern Calif.
Good morning everybody , a newby here....... I am new to the wonders of cast iron, I have had new Lodge products for a year and a half now..... I can honestly say without reservation that my food tastes and smells better with CI than it did with the " non stick "modern cookware...... I was getting outgassing with the modern stuff and didnt realize it until I started using the CI and could smell and taste the difference..... the CI just seems to smell um..... perhaps cleaner ?

I have had some issues that some of you have had.I have tried various ways of adding to the seasoning to try to make everything non stick and have had both successful and less than in other respects.

I have used my 10" Lodge skillet to cook cornbread in the oven @ 400 deg F with complete success.I just melted a small pad of Challenge Butter then poured in the batter and cooked till done....... I have never had any problems at all and the cornbread tastes great. When the cornbread is cooked it pulls away from the pan all by it's self and drops right out with zero sticking.

This same skillet will about half the time have fried eggs stick and the other times they turn out great.I have tried cooking them with butter , olive oil , peanut oil , bacon grease and seem to have less problems with sticking when using butter as a fat.

My 12" Lodge skillet has been used to make pineapple upside down cake or even a chocolate cake again in the oven and again with great results and no sticking..... well the chocolate cake had a small piece about the size of a dime that stuck but it came right off with just light pressure from my finger.... it wasnt burnt on...... But if heating some commercial branded Obrien  Potatoes I always get some small amount of sticking with this same skillet on the stovetop ( gas stove / oven )

My 10" Oven style bean pot Dutch Oven has made chili on the stove top and in  the oven as well as the outside grill  , oven cooked roasted chicken , pot roast / veggies  ect with zero issues..

I may be sinning but I have never been afraid of cooking acidic foods with these CI pieces , I use tomatoes and pineapple in my cooking alot
and have noticed that it does seem to remove some of the surface oils in the pan but never anything that has caused me any real problems with cleanup or with the next use of the skillet.

The vast majority of my skillet use and been quite pleasant ...... but for some reason fried eggs and potatoes seem to have more issues , never had a problem with scrambled eggs in the same skillet tho

Paul I wish to thank you for your video and will try the salt and pepper before putting the egg in....... maybe I'm just using too much oil ?
either way thanks for the great thread , it has been quite informative !!

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
hc wrote:

Reason I ask is, I deep fried some potatoes in my Lodge last night using safflower oil. Now, it's got a sticky patch about 2" across on the bottom. I tried rubbing salt on it and doing a stovetop seasoning with lard, but the sticky patch won't go away.

Any suggestions?

And do you have any idea why it's just that one patch that developed the stickiness? 


I suspect that the sticky is a different form of polymerization.  My experience is that when the sticky stuff is heated and there is a wee bit of oil in the pan, the sticky patch becomes freaky slippery!

If you want to get ride of it - I think just general use of the pan will get rid of it.  And heat.


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Al,

Please let me know if you go from sticky 50% of the time, to sticky 1% of the time after reading the article and watching the video.

          


Joined: Apr 25, 2009
Posts: 20
Location: Northern Calif.
paul wheaton wrote:
Al,

Please let me know if you go from sticky 50% of the time, to sticky 1% of the time after reading the article and watching the video.




Paul ,

I cant thank you enough !! I rewatched your video and tried your method. I used the same 10" rough Lodge skillet that seems to have a Jecklel and Hyde personality and did like you did....... Got the pan warm.... used a small amount of  bacon grease ...... put the salt and pepper on first , in with the egg , flip and turned the flame off...... PERFECT over easy and zero stickage ! ..... My wife tried it and again excellent results with scrambled eggs also.

I think I was using too much fat , and too much time over the heat as well as whatever effect the salt and pepper may add as a barrier or boundry layer ? I dont know but my nephew just stopped by and he  tried it and he is now convinced that CI can cook great eggs..... he always had problems with CI and eggs also........ This is just too easy now  Tried it now 6 times between my wife , nephew and I and the same results every time !

Thank you Paul !

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Excellent!

And now you don't have to buy a new skillet every six months. 

                        


Joined: Apr 29, 2009
Posts: 2
Hi Paul-
Love your cast iron guide.  After 'scouring' the internet I found your information to be the most well rounded, well sourced bit of advice available.  It was wonderful coincidence you also share the permaculture attitude.  Great minds, eh? 
I've reclaimed several pieces of cast iron using bits of your advice.  Thanks so much.
My experience is:
- always use bacon, butter, or other animal based fat because every veggie one I've tried turns to sticky residue eventually (have not tried coconut)
- mild soap and plastic scrubbies won't hurt your finish, even used daily--just spread a thin layer of oil on the warm pan as you dry it with a paper towel
- copper scrubbies work wonders for the worst burnt on food, but be prepared to do at least some re-treating with heat/fat if any raw iron patches appear
- the "stickies" can be removed with copper scrubbies and elbow grease, or cooked off (oven at max for several hours) and easily scrubbed off afterward

I'm also making my own "German mound gardens" as I've heard them called, in a smaller format than yours using only leaves and small twigs as both food and weed barrier. 
Thanks for the great info!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Eggman, thanks for the kind words!

Oven at max for several hours:  to clean a pan?  I've never had anything that drastic.  The boiling water trick seems to always work.

Aren't you worried about how much energy that uses?

As for which oils to use:  I've become a big fan of organic shortening, which is actually palm oil.



                        


Joined: Apr 29, 2009
Posts: 2
Hah no, not just to clean a pan...  For things that are nearly impossible to remove (e.g., plastic melted on, rust, etc.) and when I first receive some cast iron I put them through an intense heat cycle in the oven.  This bakes off everything that shouldn't be there, removes old sticky oil, food remnants, and turns rust to powder.  I've read of people putting it through the oven cleaning cycle but that seems drastic (you have to remove the racks and use bricks or ceramics to elevate the pans off the oven floor). 
So yeah, they only go through it once unless I need to start over or recondition one.  After that it's like you said--easy maintenance. 
Palm oil, that's what I meant... will look for that... thanks again!
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
paul wheaton wrote:


As for which oils to use:  I've become a big fan of organic shortening, which is actually palm oil.






i haven't seen that available here but i'm curious. does the palm oil shortening contain partially or fully hydrogenated oils at all? I don't use reg. shortening due to that concern and it would be nice to have an alternative other than lard.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Here is the gobbledygook I found on it: 

When we say our Organic Shortening is good, we really mean good. It�s better for your body than ordinary shortening because it�s never hydrogenated, has zero grams of trans fat, and is made from palm oil, which is naturally cholesterol free and a good source of heart healthy monounsaturated fat. Even better are the dozens of small family farmers in Colombia who cultivate and press our palm oil in an environmentally sustainable manner. It�s good for you, the farmers and the earth...just imagine what it does for a pie crust.

INGREDIENTS: Mechanically pressed Organic Palm Oil.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Tbsp (13 g)

Servings per Container: About 84

Nutrient Amount %DV

Calories 110

Calories from Fat 110

Total Fat 13 g 20%

Saturated Fat 6 g 32%

Trans Fat 0 g

Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g

Monounsaturated Fat 5 g

Cholesterol 0 mg 0%

Sodium 0 mg 0%

Total Carbohydrate 0 g 0%

Dietary Fiber 0 g

Sugar 0 g

Protein 0 g

    * High heat up to 450 degrees F.
    * 0 grams trans fat.
    * Less saturated fat than butter.
    * Non-hydrogenated.
    * Vegan -- Dairy Free.
    * Gluten Free.
    * Use just like conventional shortening.
    * Approximate shelf life or 2 years. Do not exceed temperatures of 85 degrees.
    * Kosher KSA
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i started collecting cast iron when i was using a Majestic wood burning cookstove after my 1971 marriage, we moved into a home with two wood stoves, the majestic and a 2 burner parlor stove in the living room.

that was all of our heat.

i immediately asked for cast iron pans for all my gifts, wedding, birthday, christmas..you name it, and I have amassed a huge collection.

now in my new house i don't have my woodburning cookstove..but i do have a cast iron topped gas stove..with 6 burners..one in the center is a griddle burner..

i LOVE my cast iron and would never put it away out of site..it hangs on racks all over my kitchen..ceiling racks, racks on the sides and ends of my island..etc..and they are within grab distance of my stove..if they get dusty, i take a paper towel with oil on it and wipe them down..and heat them to burn off the dust..then wipe them again and hang them back up..but usually they are so well used they don't get dust on them.

i also have some cast iron utensils..but i tend toward not using them..I probably have 4 or 5 dozen pieces in my collection..or more.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
thanks paul! that stuff looks like it needs to be in my kitchen. it looks as though I will be needing to order food items to be delivered since I am finding more and more things I use regularly that just aren't available here in the dark ages. maybe I can find a place that carries palm oil as well to combine things and keep shipping down. that shipping.....ouch. if I could find a place that had organic canned goods, palm oil , DE and free shipping I would be thrilled!

brenda- I also find the cast iron to be as beautiful as it is functional! most of my cast iron has been given to me by people that just didn't use it and didn't want it. whenever I am in someones house and for some reason see or come across a cast iron cooking item I comment about how much i love cooking with cast iron......and it seem the next words out of their mouth is "do you want it?...I don't, and haven't ever and don't plan to use it"...........sweet
Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2454
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  60
I have to add, Leah, that the organic palm oil shortening works beautifully! I've used it in every kind of recipe and love having something without the guilt/fear of hydrogenation!

One possible negative, though I've never noticed it: My friend is a pastry chef doing research and development for Costco. They are gradually attempting to replace the hydrogenated oils in every product with a healthier alternative. In the pastries with a cream filling, the palm oil gives a slight nutty taste she says. I've never noticed that it does, but I'm no chef!

It seasons the cast iron beautifully, without build up, and without the strong flavor of bacon grease. What can I say - it's awesome!


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Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I'm sold! how does it come? in a tub? brick?
Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2454
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  60
Leah, here's a pic to go with Paul's info a few replies above. It's a 24 oz. tub.

azurestandard.com sells it for $5.45/tub or $59.40/case of 12. Azure does ship UPS, though that would be from Oregon to you...spud! sells it for $7.39/tub which is closer to the price you'd see in a Whole Foods or similar. Looks like Spectrum packages it in California. You might look for a wholesaler or buying club in your area. Sometimes stores will order in items for you, too--then you don't have to pay any shipping!


[Thumbnail for spectrumshortening.jpg]

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
thats a good idea! I found some of my favorite organic canned items...well one.....at a healthfood store in fort smith. at the very least maybe they would order the shortening for me. I hinted at the counter that I would buy my fav canned soup by the case. they carried it but only had a few cans. I cleaned them out! they had extremely limited items. lots of herbs but very little selection as far as food and produce. but maybe they would be willing to get stuff in for me. thanks!

                          


Joined: Apr 12, 2009
Posts: 66
this thread and paul's article got me using my castiron again. Thanks guys! So much better and if I no longer twirl the pan making crepes (too heavy for my wrists!), well, quicker to make them since they're thicker!
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
most pan fry things cook up sooo much better on cast iron. I can't imagine not having my skillets.

english muffins are one of those things that cook up really well on the cast iron. This isn't a super authentic recipe but it is less involved than some of the ones that are supposed to turn out with a crumb more like store bought english muffins. I am used to these though and like them better for a quick breakfast toasted and with the luscious peach butter from last year heaped on top! they freeze great too !



one of these days I am going to try another english muffin recipe that is supposed to be more standard. it requires molds though and I just haven't gotten around to making or buying them. though we are in time of year when it is mostly 'inside days' due to the oppressive heat and humidity so my experimentation with cooking will likely start to pick up.
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
Those muffins look yummy! So what's for breakfast? Muffins or puff pancakes? Either way, sounds like a winner to me!!! 
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
Since I have an oven now with a self cleaning cycle I thought I would try to start over with my dutch oven that has infused everthing cooked in it with an off taste for quite sometime and has therefore been going unused. It did a pretty good job of cooking off everything and it looks like all that is left is a layer of flaky rust like material. now I need to get some steel wool and give it a good scrubbing before starting over. I think I will try and make popcorn in it first due to the rave reviews that has brought for seasoning a pan.

          


Joined: Apr 25, 2009
Posts: 20
Location: Northern Calif.
Leah , I'll bet once it's cleaned up that Dutch Oven will cook some great meals..... any idea what brand or how old it is ?

You inspired me to try popcorn again in my Dutch Oven..... The 1st time I tried it I burned the popcorn pretty badly using my smaller 10" oven..... tonight I tried it in my larger 12" Camp Style oven......... I tried it Paul's way ...... bacon squeezin's ...... heated the oil up real good first then added the popcorn kernels..... they instantly started to sizzle ...... after it started to pop I turned the heat down...... had to modulate the heat a few times between lower and higher flame..... and stirred the corn often.......

The results were great ! only about a half dozen kernels refused to pop and none of the popcorn was burned...... Paul's method worked again !......... I have no doubt your DO will cook you up some great corn !

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I don't know how old it is. It was given to me by my husbands grandmother. I practically started jumping for joy when she brought it out and asked if I wanted it years ago. I had been coveting them in stores for quite some time but hadnt' managed to convince myself to shuck out the cash for one. She never used it. The bottom says... crescent fd'y co.    Ozark        st. louis , mo      No. 8. 22 hopefully I can get to town soon and get some steel wool or something similiar. in this humidity it is already starting to rust like crazy just sitting on my stove.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Rub some oil on it right away!

Use some paper towels and keep putting some oil on and wiping away the rust.

The sooner the better!

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I got the green light to go to the store today so I will pick up some steel wool. I would rather sand off a bit more rust than risk locking in some nasty flavor again. I want it to be pristine when I go to re-season it. I'm excited about getting to use it again!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think that the steel wool isn't going to help at all.

The thing is that when you baked off all the other stuff, then it is just raw iron which rusts really fast.  The oil will protect it.  The rust that is on there will come off, but as soon as you take that off, the iron below that will just rust right away.  So if you have a layer of oil on it and you take some rust off, it won't immediately re-rust.

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
the steel wool did a great job! and was very neccessary! I can't imagine just oiling the way it looks in the first picture. although the oven baked off all the fat it did leave some hard chunky stuff on the floor of the pan especially. It wasn't particularly difficult to get off but the steel wool made it much easier. I was able to get a fine 'dusting' of rust off the entire thing also that it came out of the oven with. i didn't want to just seal in the rust or old seasoning  with the oil and leave it to slowly come off in my food.

it looks close to brand new now! you can see a little discoloration from some rust dust but hopefully it won't be a problem with regular maintainence. if I were wanting to store it I would have worked harder at it or found someone with a sand blaster.

Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
Wow...it's gorgeous! I wonder how old it is!?
                                


Joined: Jul 05, 2009
Posts: 3
I have one just like it,  BUT.... no lid!!! i jealous!!!  i love mine and have been using it for almost 40 yrs.... i have several cast iron frying pans, a 'griddle pan' and a couple of flat pans, for tortillas maybe?  long live cast iron!!! i rarely wash them in soap.. just a hot scrub and a light oiling... thats about it, unless something does stick, then i'll do a soapy wash, but IMMEDIATELY will stove top dry and a light oiling!!

cheers
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I've found lots of lids at thrift stores that seem to fit quite well!  Glass lids!

                                


Joined: Jul 05, 2009
Posts: 3
yep, RE: glass lids... just isn't quite the same... but i still look for the 'originial lid'  there is just something about cooking in cast iron!!  nothing like a bubbling dutch oven of beans or a pot roast.. sighhh...
i've heard, or perhaps its a 'wives tale', that it leaches a bit of iron and is good for you?


cheers
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I know that I have a griswold cast iron pan and the griswold glass lid that was made for it by griswold!  So cast iron and glass mix very well.

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
it is true about the iron. is suppose whether or not it is good for you depends on whether you need more iron or not! iron is one of those things that can hurt or help. middle aged men are supposed to take it easy on the iron although menstruating women often have trouble obtaining adequate amounts. iron is not easily excreted from the body so excess can be troublesome. thankfully if your body works right the ability to absorb iron is reduced when you don't need it. a disease called hemachromatosis exists where iron is ready asorbed and stored in the body too easily. the only treatment is letting blood. if this runs in your family you should be checked out, as symptoms don't appear or are not recognized until organs are seriously damaged in later life from my understanding. another interesting tidbit that I'm not positive is true is that if you body needs iron it isn't really selective about what metals it takes up including dangerous things like lead. one reason to make sure you are getting adequate iron (preferably through diet) is to prevent your body from accidentally absorbing nasty heavy metals from the enviroment.
                                        


Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 4
I got an old iron skillet, cleaned it down to the grey metal and seasoned it using the recommended instructions so it is nice and black and looks smooth.  However, food still sticks to it.  I've scrubbed it out with a plastic scrubby a few times, and reseasoned because I thought the scrubbing may have removed some of the seasoning.  Today I cooked bacon and then eggs after the bacon, leaving some of the bacon grease in the pan.  The eggs stuck to the pan leaving a yellow film totally adhered to the entire bottom.  I don't know if I should use the boiling water method  because my experience tells me that hot water makes eggs stick worse.  I'm really disappointed with the performance of this pan.  It has been seasoned at least 5 times in a 550 degree oven with shortening.  But everything still sticks in it. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14853
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Let's explore these things one at a time.

First, if your pan is no longer gray, it is now seasoned.  Don't worry about the seasoning anymore.

Second, almost all bacon has some kind of sugar in it.  When heated, that sugar, combined with fat, turns into caramel.  Some people love to eat this stuff and they call it "bacon brownies" - the important thing to remember is that the stuff is super sticky! 

After making bacon, I save the grease and then I put a little water in the pan and heat it up.  Once the water boils, all that stuff comes off really easy.  Gently gliding my spatula over it usually takes it all off.  I'll then touch up a bit with the scrubby thing in the sink, rinse well and then put back on the hot stove to heat dry the pan.  When the last of the water is gone from the pan, I usually put a teeny tiny bit of bacon grease in the pan and wipe that around to the thinnest possible layer.  It instantly smokes and I turn the heat off.  I can then see some brand new seasoning - it looks sorta mottled - like a poorly drawn spider web. 

The pan is then ready for the next use.

I usually try to use the pan in such a way that cleanup is just a quick wipe with a paper towel.  But sometimes I'm just not so lucky.  And with bacon, I have never been so lucky - because of the sticky stuff.

                                        


Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 4
Thanks, Paul.  All this info has really helped.  I'm so glad I don't have to keep on seasoning in the oven!!  And I watched your video about cooking eggs and followed those directions and it worked well.  The low heat and metal spatula ideas also made a big difference.  I think I am getting the hang of this thing now.
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
excellent! it takes just a bit to learn the quirks of new cookware or recipes. part of the fun!
 
 
subject: using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!
 
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