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using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!

                                          


Joined: Jul 29, 2009
Posts: 8
Thanks for the wonderful article on cooking in cast iron. 

As a cook well versed in French cooking but  a newbie to cast iron skillet cooking, it was humbling not to be able to fry up eggs properly! The whites would get stuck while the yolks were still raw.  Even better was having my husband watching, wondering why I had given up the Teflon pan for this antiquated Griswold skillet!  After watching your video, I realized that I was not allowing the pan to heat up sufficiently.  The next time I made eggs, they came out perfectly.  I had loads of fun just sliding the egg around in the pan (yes ..juvenile, I know). 

Keep up the great articles.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I had a bunch of people tell me that I made the video too long.  But I think the cooking shows cut out too much important stuff.  I wanted it to be clear that there isn't some black magic somewhere. 

I hope that this seals the deal and you don't go back to teflon.

sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
                                          


Joined: Jul 29, 2009
Posts: 8
Your video was a perfect length.  I agree that most cooking shows edit out the small but important details.  It was so helpful to have the 'wait time' shown, the 'ffff' sound of the egg hitting properly heated iron, the egg sliding around effortlessly...all of these details are vital.

Don't worry, I am not going back to Teflon!  In fact, I have bought a few nice old skillets: Griswold, Wapak, and Cousances.  I see cast iron is as addictive as enamelware!  I have noticed that cast iron cuts down the cooking time on many things like caramelizing garlic or browning meat!

I have always used Cousances and old Le Creuset enamelware pots and dutch ovens.  I do not do a lot of frying - mostly roasting and slow cooking with enamelware.  I had not paid much attention to picking a good skillet since I would only use it to slow cook garlic or an occasional steak.  Since meeting my husband, I have had to learn a lot more traditional American cooking - and a lot more frying!!! 

One question:
Do you have a video and or article about cooking flap jacks/griddle cakes/pancakes?  My husband loves buckwheat pancakes so that is my next project!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Bizarre. 

I do have an article about pancakes.  http://www.richsoil.com/pancakes.jsp

                                          


Joined: Jul 29, 2009
Posts: 8
What a wonderful coincidence!!  As you can see I am new to this site, so forgive me for asking a redundant question

I will let you know how it turns out. 
                          


Joined: Apr 12, 2009
Posts: 66
Thinking of the slow cooking properties- heat sink etc- I tossed my pound plus of frozen burger in the skillet on high, flipped it over when slightly brown, covered the skillet, and turned off heat after a few minutes.  Returned after an hour or less of gardening and the meat was fully thawed and ready to finish frying. 

Usually it takes a few days to thaw in fridge, several hours on the counter doesn't fully thaw it but I've used that to try to speed things up with little success, and with a health risk.  When I've forgotten to prethaw I end up slowly cooking - chipping cooked burger off the burger popsicle- so this is a much better option for me. Especially since I can never be sure I'll want that thawed meat two to four days in the future.
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 666
Location: Zone 5
I think I may have learned to cook in a cast iron skillet, it is all I have ever known.  Funny
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
quote author=LorinB link=topic=154.msg1769#msg1769 date=1181574867]
What causes pitting in cast iron?  Is there a way to remove or smooth out the pitting?

Julie L.


I've taken classes in metallurgy, so forgive me if this gets too long-winded.

Corrosion pits are an interesting manifestation of a general pattern, from a permaculture perspective.

They may occur whenever a metal has a chemical incentive to corrode, but the outside environment produces a passivating layer.  For aluminum, plain water can produce corrosion pits, and stainless steel pits in water with some salt or chlorine present...but for cast iron, it's oil that produces a protective film.

The metal covered by the protective film is in a relatively "reducing" environment, meaning it wants to stay/become a metal.  At the bottom of the pit, however, the atmosphere can't get in to re-form the film, producing an "oxidizing" environment where the metal is driven to dissolve or corrode.  This electrochemical potential actually drives ions out of the pit and onto the outer surface and, unfortunately, the reduction over a large surface is used to drive oxidation at just a tiny pinpoint.  Imagine a hydraulic device where a huge cylinder drives a tiny one, or a lever where a huge mass on the short end pushes a small one on the long end...the smaller part moves fast.  And the deeper the pit becomes, the less influence the atmosphere has on corrosion at the base of the pit.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
jenn wrote:
Thinking of the slow cooking properties- heat sink etc- I tossed my pound plus of frozen burger in the skillet on high, flipped it over when slightly brown, covered the skillet, and turned off heat after a few minutes.  Returned after an hour or less of gardening and the meat was fully thawed and ready to finish frying. 

Usually it takes a few days to thaw in fridge, several hours on the counter doesn't fully thaw it but I've used that to try to speed things up with little success, and with a health risk.  When I've forgotten to prethaw I end up slowly cooking - chipping cooked burger off the burger popsicle- so this is a much better option for me. Especially since I can never be sure I'll want that thawed meat two to four days in the future.


i thaw all my meat on my cast iron. they actually sell fancy "quick thaw" plates that are nothing more then cast iron. no need to heat it up first. I thaw everything from steaks to hamburger on mine on the counter. (against the rules I know) takes just a few hours and the meat is stil cold and barely frozen on the inside. it is best for things like hamburger to be frozen flattish and not a big round hunk- o- meat


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


Joined: Aug 21, 2009
Posts: 2
Hey Paul and others thanks for all this great info on cast, wow! I stumbled upon Paul's article, and then found my way here. Reason EGGS! LOL! Just bought the square pan and large fryer. Last night we did scrambled eggs, and its taken most of the day to get it off the pan. I ended up reseasoning it. Have watched the egg video and am a little more hopeful about eggs now. I Know where I went wrong. I threw out all my teflon, but 1 pan. And for awhile thought I might have to go back to them. And after reading this thread the things are rather scary. Can't wait to try the eggs again!

Leah that dutch oven is gorgeous and turned out beautifully.

Thanks again.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Let us know how you do. 

                            


Joined: Aug 21, 2009
Posts: 2
paul wheaton wrote:
Let us know how you do. 




They turned out great! . I spent sometime curing both pans and they are just like teflon, so easy to clean.
                          


Joined: Apr 12, 2009
Posts: 66
DD16 cooked some frozen chicken on it without direct supervision (we don't cook much so yes, this is a first for her).  The next day I leerily asked her where she'd chopped up the chicken.  "Right in the skillet, and I washed the knife."  Sure can't do that with teflon!  Today I cooked more of the now thawed chicken and chopped it into the size bits we wanted with knife and then even with my lovely sharp restaurant supplier store spatula (wooden handle, shorter) which this thread inspired me to buy for use with my skillet.
                            


Joined: Sep 13, 2009
Posts: 1
Hi,

Love your article on using cast iron.  The video is awesome.  We have been using cast iron frying pans exclusively for more than 15 years.  Non-stick stuff is toxic...  We discovered some good tips in the video, thank you very much.

We found your site because of the cast iron article, but have been delighted in all your other articles.  We are going to read through all the stuff on chickens, as we are new to keeping them.  And fencing, and permaculture, and ... we never met you but we like you .

Take care

datso and osiewosie
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
datso wrote:
we never met you but we like you .


Then you are in a minority! 

And we'll see if you change your mind after you read the other articles! 

I'm glad you like the cast iron article.  I would think that the video would be boring for you.  It is designed to show that eggs can slip around in a pan - for folks that can't seem to get their cast iron to work. 

I've been thinking about making another video showing some serious sticking, followed by the cleanup and a wee bit of oil for the pan.

Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
paul wheaton wrote:
I've been thinking about making another video showing some serious sticking, followed by the cleanup and a wee bit of oil for the pan.


My video access is limited, so forgive me if the current video shows this, but I think it should show how drops of water respond at various temperatures (bubble, dance, vanish).

It takes some trial and error to know what too hot or too cold look like, so you could even show the water-drop test for a too-hot pan and then show the sticking that results.
                        


Joined: Jan 07, 2010
Posts: 1
I just read your article about the use of cast iron.  It is great.  One question that I have is about the spatula.  Lodge recommends wood or silicone only as opposed to metal.  Is the skillet you use different?  I would prefer to use metal.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I use a Lodge skillet, and find, as Paul does, that big clumps form unless I use a metal spatula, and constantly wear them down.

I think the manufacturer's recommendations, here, might be wrong. Like the advice to under-inflate Ford tires a few years ago, there's probably some rationale to the advice, but I disagree.

Or maybe Lodge has begun making Teflon-coated disposable skillets? If so, I guess they're right.
                      


Joined: Jan 10, 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Southern New Hampshire
I am a newby that just stumbled on the article on cooking with cast iron.  Last year I got some free cast iron fry pans from a woman whose mother had passed away and she was giving away the stuff whe didn't want.  Well after reading your article and digging my pans out of the cupboard, I found that I have a 10 inch Griswold 8, an 8 inch Griswold 6 and a small Wagner!  All 3 are well seasoned and smoothe and now I am anxious to use them more often - not just for the occasional egg or bacon.  Thankx for the terrific information!
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 666
Location: Zone 5
Welcome Linda, and congrats on the finds.
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2093
Location: FL
    
  49
Staying at my brothers house tonight, too darn cold in my old busted house.  He's got DSL.  It's my chance to get caught up on big downloads and video clips.

Found a tour of the Lodge Foundry, 8:48.


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
gwg wrote:
I just read your article about the use of cast iron.  It is great.  One question that I have is about the spatula.  Lodge recommends wood or silicone only as opposed to metal.  Is the skillet you use different?  I would prefer to use metal.


I think that lodge is goofy on many counts.

First, I suggest that you don't buy lodge to begin with. 

Second, they suggest a form of pan seasoning that I don't agree with.

Third, to re-iterate what Joel said:  I think they are very wrong about what sort of spatula to use with cast iron.


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Linda wrote:
I am a newby that just stumbled on the article on cooking with cast iron.  Last year I got some free cast iron fry pans from a woman whose mother had passed away and she was giving away the stuff whe didn't want.  Well after reading your article and digging my pans out of the cupboard, I found that I have a 10 inch Griswold 8, an 8 inch Griswold 6 and a small Wagner!  All 3 are well seasoned and smoothe and now I am anxious to use them more often - not just for the occasional egg or bacon.  Thankx for the terrific information!



That must feel damn good!  To think you had some junk and to realize you have the best stuff out there!  Better than anything brand new at the store!

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
When I travel and am invited into people's homes I seem to have a lusty eye for any cast iron they have.  And I find myself flipping the pans over to see what brand they are.  And then inspecting the cooking surface and then interrogating the innocent to find out what they use for a spatula. 

This sort of obnoxious ad hoc research has led me to think that the article is accurate. 

Old pans are the best.  Use a stainless steel spatula with a flat edge.

                      


Joined: Jan 10, 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Southern New Hampshire
Was at my daughter's til Wednesday, but am now back home - plan on cooking with my cast iron this weekend!!  I used to have a Lodge griddle and didn't really like it - believe I left it behind when I moved.  Will be using the Griswold's this weekend - thanks again!
                            


Joined: Jan 22, 2010
Posts: 4
I have been cooking with enameled cast iron for some time and now is more willing to try on some non-enameled cast iron.   Regarding the seasoning, I got lots of information for this great thread - well done Paul.

I know organic palm oil has been mentioned tons of times for seasoning.  However, I hesitate to use it for seasoning or cooking as my household has someone with cholesterol problem.  Instead of taking what Paul's posting as it is, I researched on the heart and stroke foundation for palm oil (believing that it's not selling anything so will not be bias on the type of oil).  The following are the links.

http://www.heartandstroke.on.ca/site/c.pvI3IeNWJwE/b.4672101/k.C772/Trans_fatty_acids.htm
http://www.heartandstroke.on.ca/site/c.pvI3IeNWJwE/b.3581947/k.470F/Dietary_fats_oils_and__cholesterol.htm

Apparently, though not hydrogenated or carry any choleserol, palm oil is high in saturated fat and the article mentioned Plant sources of saturated fat are coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil. Saturated fat can raise LDL-cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) level.  Saturated fatc can raise the bad LDL cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fat include fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, butter, hard margarines, lard, coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter), vegetable ghee, and palm oil.

Paul and other posters, with your experience what type of unsaturated fat (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil) would you prefer/ recommend other than organic palm oil?

Thanks for your help.
                      


Joined: Jan 10, 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Southern New Hampshire
I have been using olive oil and occasionally mixing it up with bacon drippings.  It's been working fine for me - my eggs just slide out of the skillet.  I've recently cooked chicken with root vegetables in my larger skillet, chicken cordon bleu (a little messier cleanup since some of the cheese ran out on the skillet bottom) potato cubes and all kinds of eggs.  The olive oil worked fine for seasoning.
                            


Joined: Jan 22, 2010
Posts: 4
Linda, Paul and other posters,

Did you season your pot in the oven using olive oil?  If so, what's the temperature you use?  Apparently, different oils need different temperature to bring the optimal result. 

I just got a new Lodge Logic cast iron dutch oven (I know Paul would recommend getting an old / used Wagner over E-bay but shipping over the border to Canada may be tricky).  Without knowing what type of oil / grease / fat was used to "pre-season" it, my question is whether I need to strip down the "pre-season", or put a couple layers of my own season (hence my question of what temperature use to season it in the oven), or simply start using the pot without doing anything further?

As a newbie to non-enameled cast iron cooking, I appreciate all your advice before I start using my new toy
                      


Joined: Jan 10, 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Southern New Hampshire
Your pot is new and it is a Lodge - they do things differently.  I would say that you don't have to strip the origonal seasoning, but should build on that.  Try cooking in it first with a good coating of olive oil and then wiping down with paper towel so coating is all over and then cook your food - after wipe out well getting all particles off - no washing if you don't need to - use the "salt" method to get off anything that stuck to the pot.  Building on the seasoning is important and make sure you get the pot dry but with a thin coating of oil after using.
                      


Joined: Jan 10, 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Southern New Hampshire
oh - and 350 is good - I let it season  while the oven is heating and after it gets to 350 let it stay for 2 or 3 minutes
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I would throw it in a fire and get rid of what lodge calls "seasoning".  I think it is actually something to keep the pan from rusting before sale. 

Once out of the fire, wipe it down with the grease/oil of your choice.

As for the quality of fats and general health:  I am certainly not an expert.  And, at the same time, my impression is that this whole area is riddled with debate and misinformation.  At this moment, my impression is that "bad fats" were made bad by not being organic.  Therefore, the organic lard, palm oil, etc. are actually good for you.  I would even go so far as to say that I suspect that organic lard is far better for you than non-organic olive oil. 

Of course, this is all just my obnoxious opinion and while I have read a few hundred bits and bobs in this space, there is little more than a hunch to support this theory. 

Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 666
Location: Zone 5
Personally I agree with paul very much ANd think the best thing you can do to a skillet is burn that nasty lodge stuff out and fry up bacon crisp using a metal spat
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2093
Location: FL
    
  49
10 people will tell you 12 different ways to season a skillet, and they probably all work just fine.  With regular use the pan will develop a season, even if the first attempt was not the best.

Starting out with a clean, unseasoned pan is sound, practical advice.  I have a few Lodge pieces and have always boiled and scoured them first to bring them back to zero.  From there I build my own season.

As for Lodge cast iron, there will be those who are for and against it.  I've got Lodge, Camp Ware, Wagner and a few unknown.  I've had no problems with the Lodge products. 

The first thing I do with a raw pan is wipe it down completely with vegetable oil-inside and out, top to bottom, front to back.  Then it goes on the gas stove where I heat it to the smoking point.  I get a good smoke rolling off the pan then move it off to the side where I wipe it down again with the same towel used at the start-use tongs to hold the towel. 

When the pan has cooled to room temperature I put it back on the stove, get it hot, add a strip of bacon cut into a few pieces.  Cook the bacon to draw out some of that tasty grease.  Remove the bacon, drain off the grease, then smoke the pan again.  During this step I wipe the pan a couple of times with that towel to remove excess grease and add a thin coat evenly around the inside. 

I have a comal which I used to try out a different method.  I did the scrub down and vegetable oil smoke procedure but skipped the bacon.  I only used it for grilled sandwiches.  Bread with margarine was the only thing to hit the pan for the first few months.  Finally I broke down and smoked it with bacon grease.  I've since used it for fried and scrambled eggs.  Better than teflon.  The eggs slide off with no sticking whatsoever.

From what I've read about cast iron, the deep, enduring seasoning which will make people jealous develops through different oils and greases being used over time, regardless of how it is first seasoned. 

It's your pan, you can do with it as you please.  You can try a few different methods used by others or develop your own method to see which method works best for you.  You can always scrub it back to raw iron and start over.

Spatula
I use a stainless steel spatula with a flat edge, rounded corners and wooden handle.  I also use stainless steel tongs.  I have used wood utensils but find the stainless steel will outlast the wood and is easier to clean.



                            


Joined: Jan 22, 2010
Posts: 4
Thank you for all the advice.  I did start the oven with a really hot rinse. dry it up over my induction stove (no fire at my home - only induction which will automatically turn itself off if it becomes too hot) and then add olive oil (bacon is forbidden at home due to the cholesterol problem and the high salt content - high blood pressure) for the oven; heat it up until it smoked; turn off the stove and let it cools; clean it up.  I repeated the process twice even though the 1st round did not have any residue coming out from it.

Follow it up with a couple pancakes (they did come loose easily).

I'm currently make a ox tail stew.  Smells really good for the moment
                                  


Joined: Jan 25, 2010
Posts: 2
Ok, so I read through this posting and your website and seem to be more confused than ever.  Regretting buying the pan yesterday.

The skinny:

Purchased a preseasoned "camp chef" 14 inch skillet from Cabelas Outdoor Store.  14 inch as I have 3 kids, and while they are little right now, someday they will be large teenagers, and will need the space.

I am kinda thinking I made a mistake buying it.   ops:  I am pretty sad, actually.

I am reading that I should take off the preseason coating, and start fresh... Really?!?  ugg

Next I see use lard or bacon drippings as the cooking oil, I just absolutely refuse to use lard, and I dont eat pork-- so obviously I am not going to use bacon fat (yuck!)  I always cook with olive oil, unless the pan is going to be super hot, then plain old veggie oil

Also, I read not to use plastic utensils on it, just stainless steel??  I didnt realize I would have to purchase a whole new kitchen set to use the dang thing... Aren't there any exceptions?

Tell me I didnt make a mistake buying this thing... I am really stupid here... can you give me like step by step instructions?  Thanks in advance

Emily

                                  


Joined: Jan 25, 2010
Posts: 2
Sorry, reading above, I realized I sound pretty    I didnt mean to.  So I apologize!  I am really asking for help here. 
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 666
Location: Zone 5
Go to the local thrift store and find a good flat edged spatula, it is worth it. 

The type of oil isn't as important as some would believe, but I like to add salt to the veggie oil, they do call it "seasoning" afterall.

The more coats of "as hot as it can stand" oil the better. 

I like bacon as it can cook to real hot, I also use olive oil or soy oil.  I mostly use the latter two, but on a new pan I always use bacon the first time...and you don't have to eat the bacon.
                            


Joined: Jan 22, 2010
Posts: 4
Thanks Jennifer for suggesting me to just season it with bacon - i.e. cook with it but not eat it when the pan is new.  I guess, with whatever bacon oil left on the pan, it become a season to the pan.  Man, I do miss those days that I can eat whatever without having to think too much on the health issue of some other people under the same roof (love is without sacrifice, right?)
jeremiah bailey


Joined: May 05, 2009
Posts: 343
Yes, I agree, the straight-edged metal flipper is a must. Thrift shops are great for those. I keep a tub of lard around just for adding to the seasoning after some spousal abuse. No, she doesn't get violent. She just doesn't like to rinse them out immediately, or have a concept of seasoning. The lard is more convenient than bacon fat, especially if I'm not in the mood for bacon.


"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller
--
Jeremiah Bailey
Central Indiana
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 666
Location: Zone 5
How about this...

Always preheat skillett, after initial seasoning. 

Oil it a bit, preheat and cook. 
 
Consider Paul's rocket stove mass heater.
 
subject: using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!
 
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