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using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!

                      


Joined: Jun 08, 2010
Posts: 9
Ohhh squee!  My boyfriend just told me when he goes back to Alabama this weekend he is going to bring his grandmother's cornbread cast iron piece with him.  Don't know the brand, but I am WAYYYY excited to see it!  Came from England when she immigrated.

Also promised not to touch it until I was an expert at using CI 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14985
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Never heard of the yellow stuff before.

All I can tell you is what I would do.  I would start a fire right off, and then when it gets down to the coals, I would throw the pan in there.  When the fire is out, fish the pan out and oil it.  Then start using it. 


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Joined: Jun 08, 2010
Posts: 9
ok will probably give it a go then.

Since I run an online store that sells massage therapy oils, I think I am going to try the avocado oil Sheryl(?) said she uses to great success.  Someone mentioned grape seed and coconut, but I think they were only so-so.  I expect the avocado is a good oil to try since it has natural fats in it, will be interested how it works.
Imogen Skye


Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 12
Location: Zone 5, Seaside East Coast Canada
I am another cast iron enthusiast, but sadly I only have one 12" skillet. It was very silver and bumpy when we bought it, but I seasoned it with bacon grease in the oven and have just been using it usually twice a day to cook for six people, so it gets a lot of use. It is shiny and the only time it sticks is when I've been frying bison burgers without scraping between batches (oops...). Of course, having worked in a fastfood restaurant for my first job, I know the hot water and flat-edged flipper trick that scrapes it to a glass-finish in three seconds so I can continue frying on a shiny surface.

As for drying, I am confused about turning on a burner to heat-dry it. I just shut off the burner when the food is done and leave the pan to cool with the burner. Most of the time, there's nothing in it anyway, but when I've used a towel to wipe it out or water to scrape it while it's hot, it just dries as it cools. I guess drying it on a burner would be for people who remove their pan to wash it in a sink? Our pan has its own designated burner, lol, and rarely leaves it except to clean the stove. We put a li on it to keep out dust, but it's stored there.

My parents have one that is now in it's fourth decade and it is suuuuper shiny. It has never been soaped and they, like me, use a metal spatula, though they don't use it nearly as often as I do, but theirs is much older than mine which is only about five years old now.

I only fry with animal fats now, but when we first had our pan, I thought that after seasoning it would be fine to use walnut oil and grapeseed too, but I found it made the surface sticky. So I stopped using seed oils and have stuck with animal fats for skillet use and have had nothing but increasingly shiny, smooth results from that.

Does anyone here use cast iron cookie sheets? Any recommendations for where to find them?
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
I completely agree with your comment about animal fat vs the vegetable oils - that's soooo true.

The only place I've found the cast iron cookie sheets is on ebay.  You may want to try there.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Here is my cast iron experience :

I try to get the second hand cast iron, the smoother the grind on the cooking surface the better. Though I do have one new grill pan with the hatch marks & love it, makes the best grilled veggies & tika masala chicken.

I never use soap of any kind, this will remove the season & make things stick, if some one gets soap on it I soak it for 10min. in hot water & vinegar, then rinse heat dry & re-season.

When possible I cook with animal fats, butter, chicken or beef fat, sadly no bacon due to allergies, BUT I find that for low to med temp cooking coconut shortening & good quality olive oils are ok. I agree that seed oils seem to leave a sticky film.

I also avoid using my cast iron for making gravy as the rue process sometimes affects the seasoning.

I only wash my pan if it has sticky bits, if its possible I just wipe it out with a dry cloth.

I try to wash my cast iron as soon as I'm finished cooking while the pan is still hot, I turn off the burner &  I scrub with a brush & put it back on the warm burner to dry & then once dry I brush on a thin coat of oil.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14985
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I made a new video for the article about tricky cleanup



Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
Nice video, but I think your clean up method is just to involved.  Using more time and electricity than my cast-iron clean up method.

When my pan gets like yours in the video, usually after my daughter has done the cooking, I simply warm the pan on the stove and using a steal or copper scrub pad I begin to rub the bottom of the pan much like you do with the spatula, back and forth.  However, I do not have to move the pan, use water and wait for it to boil.  Just a good and warm pan were the oil and bits are warm too - this can be done by waiting a few minutes after cooking for the pan to cool a bit, as my fingers are on the other side of the scrub pad so I never touch the heated pan.

I rub with the metal scrubber pad until the bottom is smooth and my pad is not catching on anything.  Smooth and slick just like your spatula - then I wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.  It's ready for use in less than a minute in most cases.  I run hot water over the scrubber pad to rinse off the gunk before storing under the sink - done!

I used to use hot water cleaning but I would get busy and forget - arrg rust!

I call it - hot-oil cleaning method  - you use the oil to remove the stuck on bits instead of water.

When I get a gunky pan again I'll make a video of it's cleaning 


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14985
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I've spent about six hours today updating the cast iron article.  I added a bunch of pictures I've been carrying around for years.  Jocelyn sent me a pic.  And I took some fresh pics today.

The fella that did the artwork for the lawn care article and the flea control article is drawing up some stuff for the cast iron article.  So I should get that worked in pretty soon too.

I added some comments and reworked some stuff.  If you all could check for anything stupid, or blunders or the like I would appreciate it!  Thanks!

                                            


Joined: Sep 13, 2010
Posts: 2
Jami McBride wrote:
The only place I've found the cast iron cookie sheets is on ebay.  You may want to try there.


I've never seen a cast iron "cookie sheet", per se, but my Lodge pizza pan works great for cookies.

I'm very passionate about cast iron, that's all I cook in.  I have a blog about cast iron cookware and what I cook in it from day to day.

http://ramblingsoncastiron.blogspot.com
                                    


Joined: Sep 06, 2010
Posts: 28
I have no problems with my "passed down" CI; my problem is with a newly aquired "old" presto electric skillet....it is NOT one of the non-stick coated ones....it's older then that....  andddddd, everything so far; sticks !  Do the old type of skillets need to be seasoned like CI ?  My grandmother had one of these and I watched over many a pan of Sunday chicken...and I don't remember it sticking this bad. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14985
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I just updated the article again.  This time with lots of new graphics. 











See the full story:  http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp
                                    


Joined: Sep 06, 2010
Posts: 28
I have no problems with my "passed down" CI; my problem is with a newly aquired "old" presto electric skillet....it is NOT one of the non-stick coated ones....it's older then that....  andddddd, everything so far; sticks !  Do the old type of skillets need to be seasoned like CI ?  My grandmother had one of these and I watched over many a pan of Sunday chicken...and I don't remember it sticking this bad. 
Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
I don't know if anyone has tried this, but after reading Paul's article on his trying to sand down a Lodge cast iron skillet, I went looking for a solution to my Lodge Dutch oven's rough inside bottom.  Dremel has a flat ended stone that may be able to grind the inside surface down to a smooth, almost machined, surface.  Putting the stone in a drill press would probably be best as you can have a flat surface on the drill's table and control of the stone's depth.  By locking the drill at just touching the surface of the skillet you can move the skillet around and take off an even layer, then, more in stages by adjusting the stone's depth.  You can use a rounded stone for the edges.

If I have the guts to try it, I'll let you know how it turns out.  If anyone else has, let us know how it worked.

Here's a link to the type of stone I am talking about.

http://www.toolbarn.com/dremel-85422.html
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14985
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
madamspinner wrote:
I have no problems with my "passed down" CI; my problem is with a newly aquired "old" presto electric skillet....it is NOT one of the non-stick coated ones....it's older then that....  andddddd, everything so far; sticks !   Do the old type of skillets need to be seasoned like CI ?  My grandmother had one of these and I watched over many a pan of Sunday chicken...and I don't remember it sticking this bad. 


I'm sorry I missed this until now. 

Can you give us any clues about the cooking surface?  Maybe pics?

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14985
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My cast iron article is now #4 when googling for "cast iron"!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14985
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Can anybody give me some ideas on how I might go about getting more links for my article?
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1278
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
paul wheaton wrote:
I just updated the article again.  This time with lots of new graphics. 



Looks good. Just my two bits worth...
1) I buy the cheapest CI I can if new... I have two 12 inch (made in China) pans I got for $10 each (super store in Canada) They come with no pre-seasoning and cost a third of anything else. The only thing I could complain about is that the sides are curved and not straight and so harder to scrape. We use our CI every day and I have even managed to get my "chemical everything to death to clean it" wife, to use them without hurting them too bad. Anything more than bare CI is just more work and more money. I have some more costly Lodge pans which are not in the least bit better.
Note: I have seen very few (actually none) used CI pans around... But lots of bread pans without that horrid "no-stick" (which my son's no flour bread sticks to every time) for about $1 each. All the new ones have the value added "no stick" junk on them and cost twice as much too.

2) spatulas/ flippers. The dollar store is your friend, they are the only people who carry the $1.50 flippers with a flexible blade. The blade is chromed steel and they do rust after a while if you don't keep them oiled. (plastic handles)

3) CI pans work great on induction hobs. Induction cookers have the feel of gas, but no fumes.

4) This may seem unrelated... I use steel bread pans... Animal fats never stick, veg fats always do unless it is mixed with flour first. (this agrees with any of the baking books I have read too, I have tried both) Here is how it relates... Animal fat is better for non-stick than veg oil.

5) I use a putty knife (dollar store comes to the rescue again) for scraping the bottom clean. These also rust... or "gun brown" but having the handle directly behind the blade helps. the corners can be rounded with a file or grinder to match the radius of the pan corners. I sometimes use these for frying or stirring things like ground meat.

6) I don't think it is worth my while to machine the pans, the putty knife gets me a smooth surface within a month or so of use.... no biggy.

7) greasing while hot and then cooling allows the oils to be pulled into any pores in the CI
                                    


Joined: Sep 06, 2010
Posts: 28
paul wheaton wrote:
I'm sorry I missed this until now. 

Can you give us any clues about the cooking surface?  Maybe pics?



PAUL, The cooking surface is smooth, and not at all discolored.  I don't think it has been used at all; until I bought it.  It's just not one of the newer "non-stick" coated ones.  ;-(  It makes wonderful fried chicken, tho; and the gravy along with it always has the "crusty bits" that makes the gravy soooo good....but if you choose NOT to make gravy after frying chicken; I have to "cook" soapy water in it to get the crusty bits to let go !  I haven't taken an old fashioned metal chore girl to it really hard, because I didn't want to put any deep scratches in the surface.  I have cleaned it so far with a good green nylon scrubbie after "cooking" the soapy water in it.  Then a very light coating of oil with a paper towel before I put it away.  I've been using it once a week for chicken...and it's still sticking bad.        I'm about ready to give up on it and go back to my CI pan for chicken on Sunday. 
Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
paul wheaton wrote:
Can anybody give me some ideas on how I might go about getting more links for my article?



Might be a dumb suggestion but have you tried all the cast iron recipe/cooking sites out there?  Must be a million of 'em.
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1278
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
madamspinner wrote:
I have no problems with my "passed down" CI; my problem is with a newly aquired "old" presto electric skillet....it is NOT one of the non-stick coated ones....it's older then that....  andddddd, everything so far; sticks !   Do the old type of skillets need to be seasoned like CI ?  My grandmother had one of these and I watched over many a pan of Sunday chicken...and I don't remember it sticking this bad. 


We had one when I was young too.... In fact, when we had no kitchen, we used it a lot! Ours was gray and not shiny, it was aluminum. I remember it had temperature markings on it like an oven. It had been given to us as broken, but Dad took the handle apart and cleaned all the gook out and it was fine.... I guess they had not been too careful about keeping the handle out of the water while cleaning. I also remember, that after a while, it was taken apart again because the temperature was way off, much higher than indicated. It got adjusted (bent till ok). This may be something to watch, you may be using it at a higher temperature than you think. Or you may have to cook lower and slower with that kind of cooker than with CI over a fire.

I will not comment on the use of aluminum for cookware, though I do have some opinions

As far as I know, Mom kept hers clean, not seasoned.
Shawn Bell


Joined: Dec 06, 2010
Posts: 156
Paul, I read your article and watched your video on cooking with ci last night.  This morning I fried my eggs and they did not stick, thank you .. thank you .. thank you.

We have two lodge 10" pans and have used them exclusively for the last couple of years so the bottoms are nice and smooth.  It is the cleaning and proper cooking technique that we have not been doing so well with.

Also, I bought a 12" ci pan at an antique store.  It was nice and black and lumpy, when I started scraping off the lumps I found rust.  I think the guy may have painted the pan with grill paint,  so I took my dremel tool to the pan and now have a million grooves and depressions on the surface.  How do I fix it?  I do have a small drill press and some dremel bits I could try.  Any other ideas?

OK, I sanded the inside of the pan fairly smooth.  Heated it up on a bed of charcoal.  Then seasoned it.
I used it to cook supper tonight.  Lightly oiled and salted the pan, put in pork, potatoes, onions, and garlic.  Browned the meat on the stove and then threw it into the oven.  Supper was delicious and best of all cleanup was a lot easier.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14985
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My new cast iron podcast is now up
                                      


Joined: Mar 31, 2011
Posts: 4
Paul-

I have found your videos and website very informative. However, I am having a horrible experience trying to re season my fry pan.

Its a pan I got around 2 years ago and I have tried to season it many times, but have never been able to get it to a nonstick state, or anything near your black glossy pans. So today I went to town with soap, hot water, steel wool, and wet sanding sandpaper (200 then 400) and got the surface to a very smooth finish. The surface was mottled with tiny areas of clean shiny steel surrounded by matte black (seasoning?) I couldn't get any more black off with the steel wool.

I then followed your seasoning instructions almost exactly. Washed the pan then oiled very lightly, bake in oven at 400 for 10 minutes upside down, wipe off excess oil, bake 50 minutes more, cool in oven for about an hour. Did this 3 times (except washing only the first time of course).

The new seasoning is thin and glossy but very mottled, its mostly only on and around the steel. Its like it only really stuck to the steel and left the rest dry with the same matte black finish. I'm sure that if I were try eggs in this pan, they would stick immediately to the black stuff. Please help

Thanks,

Matt
Lf London


Joined: Dec 18, 2009
Posts: 96
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Subject: Re: using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!
subtopic: maintenance & repair (i.e. resurfacing and restoration of non stick property typical of CI cookware)

I. it seems a very smooth cooking surface in a CI pot or pan can/usually will deliver true non-stick properties
and sometimes to an unbelievable degree. I am thinking of my Griswold Dutch oven used to cook rice;
burned black smoking the bottom and sides of a whole pot full; dumped the rice into the bird feeder and with my fingers was able to separate the entire layer of hardened black crust; just popped loose in a few pieces with almost no effort.

II. Resurfacing: I clean and rinse the pot or pan then put about an inch of water in it and put it on high heat to boil. This releases any remaining rust or other dirt into the water which I dump. I then put the pot back on the heat for a minute or so then add a good amount of olive oil to heat up but not blacken or smoke too much. When it is hot to the point of smoking a little I then pour about a quart of hot water into the pot which mixes with the oil forming clouds of hot oily steam which:
- the point of this post: evenly and thoroughly coats the entire bottom and sides of the pot with a thick layer of oil. Pour out excess water and oil and wipe dry with cloth or paper and store for next use, when, before using,  I rinse it with water, wipe dry, put on heat then add oil and cook. I believe this is one of the better ways to restore and maintain the non stick qualities of cast iron cookware.
New and old pans with rough cooking surface would benefit from this procedure also. 


Lawrence London
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Lf London


Joined: Dec 18, 2009
Posts: 96
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
rendermatt wrote:
Paul-

I have found your videos and website very informative. However, I am having a horrible experience trying to re season my fry pan.

Its a pan I got around 2 years ago and I have tried to season it many times, but have never been able to get it to a nonstick state, or anything near your black glossy pans. So today I went to town with soap, hot water, steel wool, and wet sanding sandpaper (200 then 400) and got the surface to a very smooth finish. The surface was mottled with tiny areas of clean shiny steel surrounded by matte black (seasoning?) I couldn't get any more black off with the steel wool.

I then followed your seasoning instructions almost exactly. Washed the pan then oiled very lightly, bake in oven at 400 for 10 minutes upside down, wipe off excess oil, bake 50 minutes more, cool in oven for about an hour. Did this 3 times (except washing only the first time of course).

The new seasoning is thin and glossy but very mottled, its mostly only on and around the steel. Its like it only really stuck to the steel and left the rest dry with the same matte black finish. I'm sure that if I were try eggs in this pan, they would stick immediately to the black stuff.


Once you get the cooking surface as smooth as you want then try the methods I just wrote about.

To get a smooth surface you can use any of the following:
1) any kind of flat sharp high speed steel or carbide tool:
carpenters chisel
large piece of machinist's lathe tooling (a HSS blank that you can resharpen)
machinist's carbide scraper used to scrape cast iron ways on lathes and mills - this is a flat piece of carbide brazed to a shank with a handle
This could be used with or instead of  w/d sandpaper. Stainless steel scouring pads are good and last a long time.
A new pan with rough surface might be made very smooth with scraping.
2) electric drill with rotary sander attachment for chuck
3) use a water-type sharpening stone
Wash the pan in eco friendly detergent and be sure to use plenty of Bon Ami and stainless (or carbon) steel scouring pads.
Add an inch or two of water to the pan and heat to boiling; pour off dirty water and repeat procedure.
Add oil to pan, heat to smoking, add a quart of hot water, pour off what remains and dry with paper towel then repeat this step,
store pan for next use. After cooking repeat this procedure until you get the desired non stick surface.

LL
                                      


Joined: Mar 31, 2011
Posts: 4
LFLondon wrote:
Once you get the cooking surface as smooth as you want then try the methods I just wrote about.

To get a smooth surface you can use any of the following:
1) any kind of flat sharp high speed steel or carbide tool:
carpenters chisel
large piece of machinist's lathe tooling (a HSS blank that you can resharpen)
machinist's carbide scraper used to scrape cast iron ways on lathes and mills - this is a flat piece of carbide brazed to a shank with a handle
This could be used with or instead of  w/d sandpaper. Stainless steel scouring pads are good and last a long time.
A new pan with rough surface might be made very smooth with scraping.
2) electric drill with rotary sander attachment for chuck
3) use a water-type sharpening stone
Wash the pan in eco friendly detergent and be sure to use plenty of Bon Ami and stainless (or carbon) steel scouring pads.
Add an inch or two of water to the pan and heat to boiling; pour off dirty water and repeat procedure.
Add oil to pan, heat to smoking, add a quart of hot water, pour off what remains and dry with paper towel then repeat this step,
store pan for next use. After cooking repeat this procedure until you get the desired non stick surface.

LL


I did get the pan perfectly smooth.

So canola oil doesn't work, which means that 90% of instructions on the internet on how to season are WRONG.

I'll make this very simple: WHAT OIL OR FAT SHOULD I USE TO SEASON

Every single person I talk to, website, and video says something different and says all the others don't work. So everyone is wrong except one person. My dad says animal fat is the only thing that works right, not lard or oil or anything else. Some people say crisco is the only way to go. A lot of people says it doesn't matter. WHICH IS IT

Only reply if you have made scrambled eggs on a cast iron that you personally have seasoned with your suggested oil, and not overcooked them - any browning in the least means you have overcooked them. And had NOTHING stick. Only then is your seasoning method worthy of being called nonstick.
Lf London


Joined: Dec 18, 2009
Posts: 96
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
rendermatt wrote:
I did get the pan perfectly smooth.

So canola oil doesn't work, which means that 90% of instructions on the internet on how to season are WRONG.

I'll make this very simple: WHAT OIL OR FAT SHOULD I USE TO SEASON

Only reply if you have made scrambled eggs on a cast iron that you personally have seasoned with your suggested oil, and not overcooked them - any browning in the least means you have overcooked them. And had NOTHING stick. Only then is your seasoning method worthy of being called nonstick.


I have cooked fried eggs in mine and they did not stick. I used plenty of olive oil and added Tabasco, GH Spike seasoning salt,
black and lemon pepper, all of which would make it want to stick.
USE OLIVE OIL.
To repeat:
I. Wash the pan in eco friendly detergent and be sure to use plenty of Bon Ami and stainless (or carbon) steel scouring pads.
Add an inch or two of water to the pan and heat to boiling; pour off dirty water and repeat procedure.
Add oil to pan, heat to smoking, add a quart of hot water, pour off what remains and dry with paper towel then repeat this step,
store pan for next use. After cooking repeat this procedure until you get the desired non stick surface.
II. Resurfacing: I clean and rinse the pot or pan then put about an inch of water in it and put it on high heat to boil. This releases any remaining rust or other dirt into the water which I dump. I then put the pot back on the heat for a minute or so then add a good amount of olive oil to heat up but not blacken or smoke too much. When it is hot to the point of smoking a little I then pour about a quart of hot water into the pot which mixes with the oil forming clouds of hot oily steam which:
- the point of this post: evenly and thoroughly coats the entire bottom and sides of the pot with a thick layer of oil. Pour out excess water and oil and wipe dry with cloth or paper and store for next use, when, before using,  I rinse it with water, wipe dry, put on heat then add oil and cook. I believe this is one of the better ways to restore and maintain the non stick qualities of cast iron cookware.

Do I. & II then try your scrambled eggs.
The pan bottoms needs to be very smooth but not glassy and it can have patches of black and shiny exposed metal.
Why are Griswolds better? Maybe it is the quality of the cast iron they use.  Quality machine shop equipment uses something called "grey iron".
It seems that CI is CI as far as a cooking utensil is concerned. Another factor is the thickness of the bottom of the pan. This will affect heating and cooling rate and heat distribution. I think the thicker pans might work better for eggs because you would be less likely to get hot spots.Another factor: you need to know how hot to get the pan before you add oil and how hot to get the oil before you put the eggs in. Pour the eggs in slowly with controlled distribution. Look for holes forming as air escapes then turn or
agitate the eggs carefully as they cook. There are different procedures for cooking scrambled, fried and omelets. Again, it is important to observe optimal preheating temperatures for 1) the pan and 2) the oil before adding eggs to be cooked. You can't put a cold pan on the heat, pout in oil then pour in the eggs and expect worthwhile results. You probably know most of this already but try the curing/pre-cooking-seasoning treatments I suggested. One more suggestion:
Before cooking eggs, heat the pan with a little water, pour it off, add oil and heat it to smoking then pour in a quart of hot water which, through the action of the steam will coat all pan surfaces evenly and thoroughly with oil; pour off excess and gently rinse in cold water (this will leave a good layer of oil in the pan), wipe off excess with paper towel. Put pan on stove to heat then add oil to heat then add eggs. Let me know if any of this works for you.
LL
                                      


Joined: Mar 31, 2011
Posts: 4
LFLondon wrote:
I have cooked fried eggs in mine and they did not stick. I used plenty of olive oil and added Tabasco, GH Spike seasoning salt,
black and lemon pepper, all of which would make it want to stick.
USE OLIVE OIL.
To repeat:
I. Wash the pan in eco friendly detergent and be sure to use plenty of Bon Ami and stainless (or carbon) steel scouring pads.
Add an inch or two of water to the pan and heat to boiling; pour off dirty water and repeat procedure.
Add oil to pan, heat to smoking, add a quart of hot water, pour off what remains and dry with paper towel then repeat this step,
store pan for next use. After cooking repeat this procedure until you get the desired non stick surface.
II.


I can make fried eggs in my stainless steel fry pan without sticking and SS is basically the stickiest pan ever invented. Its easy to make fried eggs in any pan without sticking because you are browning the eggs. The eggs release from the metal when they are browned.

To make scrambled eggs, you have to have a nonstick surface, because you are not browning the eggs. You have to remove egg from the surface before they are browned, and if the surface isn't nonstick, you'll just remove the egg on top and a layer of egg will still be glued to the pan and you won't be able to get it off until it is browned or burnt.

Has anyone made scrambled eggs in a cast iron without overcooking (no browning at all) and no sticking? If so, I would like to know what seasoning material you used and your exact seasoning method.
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1278
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
rendermatt wrote:

So canola oil doesn't work, which means that 90% of instructions on the internet on how to season are WRONG.

rapeseed oil (aka canola) is good for running trucks though. Can use up everything in the soil quick too. It's all GMO so far as I know too.

So, stick or non, there is in my mind another question too. Is the fat or oil suggested something you want ingest.


Every single person I talk to, website, and video says something different and says all the others don't work. So everyone is wrong except one person. My dad says animal fat is the only thing that works right, not lard or oil or anything else.

Lard = pig fat, interesting to find out pigs are not animals. There is a difference from Lard to most other animal fats though. Tallow (from cow fat) is hard like wax at room temp, but lard, even straight from the fridge is soft like warm butter. (both are home rendered from the animal fat with no additives.) Is butter an animal fat? It comes from an animal source.

I personally use a sharp enough spatula that it doesn't matter. There seem to be some things that always stick. I have some of those non-stick bread pans (the coated ones) that I don't use any more, and while I can make wheat bread that doesn't stick, when I make my son's almond bread, it still sticks. It doesn't seem to matter what oil or fat or spray I use. I have to use parchment on the bottom and run a knife on the sides to get it to release.... it uses eggs. I have made a soda bread/cake in a cast iron dutch oven that releases on it's own even with eggs in the mix... The pan is preheated to 400F with the oil in it and the batter dumped into that. I have used both veg and butter and it is ok, but there is a small pool of oil on the bottom and that may make your scrambled eggs a bit oily.
                                      


Joined: Mar 31, 2011
Posts: 4
[quote author=LFLondon]Before cooking eggs, heat the pan with a little water, pour it off, add oil and heat it to smoking then pour in a quart of hot water which, through the action of the steam will coat all pan surfaces evenly and thoroughly with oil; pour off excess and gently rinse in cold water (this will leave a good layer of oil in the pan), wipe off excess with paper towel. Put pan on stove to heat then add oil to heat then add eggs. Let me know if any of this works for you.
LL

Are you suggesting to pour water into oil thats been heated to smoking point? That would splatter oil everywhere and even if it was hot water would be a shock to the pan and may crack it...

Tonight I preheated the pan and oil perfectly and tried to cook bacon. It stuck a little, and I had to scrape the pan a little with my spatula.

I collected the bacon fat and filtered it through a strainer. After rinsing and wiping out the pan, I coated the inside lightly with this fat and baked it in the oven, 375 for an hour. It came out spotted AGAIN. I don't even know how its possible or why oil would collect into little spots. Its just a bunch of tiny polka dots all over the pan leaving bare unseasoned spots.

What can I do to get this pan ready for making scrambled eggs? Thats 90% of what I will be using this pan for as everything else I make can just be cooked in stainless steel. Obviously all the instructions on the internet are wrong, so what am I supposed to do?? I'm about to just buy a nonstick pan because this is ridiculous
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
spotting can occur when there is to much oil, and as you say, it pools.

In the article on amazing cast iron seasoning I write that the oil must be wiped out completely, and the pan placed in the oven upside down, and the temp as high as it will go.  I believe this process will eliminate the spotting your getting.

Regarding cooking oil:  I also believe your dad is right    I mostly use animal fat/oil for cooking now - or a mix of animal/vegetable, but never vegetable alone any more.  Animal fats are just so much easier.

I hope this helps....
Jason Kasumovic


Joined: Mar 10, 2011
Posts: 10
I've been cooking with cast iron a fair amoun the last couple of years but haven't paid much attention to the spatula I used until listening to Paul's cast iron podcast.  I found some of what I think is his ideal one... $4.95 at Superstore up here in Canada.  Stainless steel, oak handle and very sharp front edge.. unfortunately not dishwasher safe (ug) .. here are some photos.








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Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1278
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
rendermatt wrote:
Its a pan I got around 2 years ago and I have tried to season it many times, but have never been able to get it to a nonstick state, or anything near your black glossy pans. So today I went to town with soap, hot water, steel wool, and wet sanding sandpaper (200 then 400) and got the surface to a very smooth finish. The surface was mottled with tiny areas of clean shiny steel surrounded by matte black (seasoning?) I couldn't get any more black off with the steel wool.

Yes that mat black is the seasoning, it should be probably 1/16 inch thick... my pans are caste and the interior is not smoothed... That is, if you burn off the seasoning (or wire brush.. steel wool), the surface would be rough... about 1/16 inch of roughness... so the seasoning on this pan is at least that thick.

I seasoned it (actually this one is not quite done around the edges and there are some pits there, due to my elements only being 6inch and the pan 12inch) by cooking on it and cleaning by scraping as flat as possible. I use a putty knife (from the dollar store with a spring carbon steel blade... yes it rusts) to do the scraping (sometimes use it for cooking and stirring in lieu of a spatula) At first this scraping is very rough because of the cast iron, but as the seasoning builds up it becomes smooth.

I believe the reason it is called seasoning is that it takes seasons of use to get there. There is no quick or easy way. The seasoning that some pans come with is "value added" money making. It costs very little to put on, but doubles the price and profits of the manufacture and retailer... and benefits the buyer not at all. That is also why all the oven ware (cookie sheets, bread pans, etc.) you can get is non-stick junk. I have found the best place to get these is used or the dollar store.

I watched my wife scrambling eggs this past weekend... mix the whites and yolks together pour in pan and mix with spatula (cheap $1.50 kind with flexible blade, but straight across the front) Every time she scraped (lightly) the eggs came away and all I could see was black pan... no egg layer.... at least in the centre where the seasoning is smooth, when I cleaned the pan there was egg stuck around the outside part where it is still pitted and not yet fully seasoned. She did use some olive oil before putting the egg in but the eggs where not oily as far as I could tell.


I then followed your seasoning instructions almost exactly. Washed the pan then oiled very lightly, bake in oven at 400 for 10 minutes upside down, wipe off excess oil, bake 50 minutes more, cool in oven for about an hour. Did this 3 times (except washing only the first time of course).


If you read some of the things Paul has said recently, it is more along the lines of "Use the pan to cook in till seasoned". It does take time, depending on use, a "season" or two. Our first one was done in about a season because it was the only one we used. Now we have 4 or 5 and the last ones are taking longer to get there. We have a boy with a special diet and keep some separate for his food...

Season = about 3 months 
Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
http://www.appropedia.org/Cast_iron_skillets has a good summary of cast iron care.


www.thehappypermaculturalist.wordpress.com
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
I recently read a beeswax article that suggested that it could be used to season a skillet. Thoughts on this?
Lee Einer


Joined: May 08, 2011
Posts: 169
The fat used for seasoning makes a difference. Soy oil leaves a gummy, almost plastic residue. Not good. Lard or bacon grease is much better. Lamb and goat fat also good.

Sad that the nutrition-nazis have demonized pork fat. So useful and so yummy.
Dave Bennett


Joined: Jun 25, 2011
Posts: 641
I started reading the posts so I could get an idea of the myriad comments on your article Paul but eventually skipped here to the end to add my comments.

I found your article very interesting.  I did find your attempts at "resurfacing" an iron pan somewhat amusing because I attempted the same thing back in the 60's when I was still a teenager.

Your video demonstrating frying an egg is one of the reasons I am posting a reply.  Heat the pan BEFORE your add the "grease."   I will not get into the semantics of fats/oils.  They are all fatty acids and some are very greasy. LOL
I also think that if you are using an oil with a really high smoke point what will happen is frying an egg that will have an incredibly tough white because the pan is too hot.  If the pan is heated before adding the "lubricant" the likelihood of a sticking egg is greatly lessened.  Too much heat is bad for eggs. 

Cleaning an iron pan:  I never use soap of any kind ever but I use a "scrubber" that is a round stiff natural bristle brush and water.  I have some cast iron pots that have such a well developed "seasoning" that I can make tomato paste with them without tainting the flavor of the sauce.  I agree with you that the "finish" is built up over time.  I have a huge collection of cast iron cookware.  Most of my Griswold's belonged to my Mom.  All of it is made in the USA too.  Griswold, Wagner, and Lodge.
They are all good, even the new Lodge ironware that I most often buy from Lehman's is of good quality.  Many of my cast iron pans don't get used as often as it did when I was younger but that is because I am no longer cooking for a family.  It is just me these days so my ironware see less use. 

Your suggestion about using a good quality stainless steel "turner" is also right on the money.  I worked as a chef for a couple of decades in between my rock'n'roll gigs and through all of those years when I was at home and cooking for about 10 people (band members etc.) whenever I was using a skillet or saute pan I was always "working" the surface with the turner smoothing out the irregularities.

When I was a youngster and went camping with my friends they used to laugh at me for bringing along one of my Mom's 10" cast iron frying pans but when I finished cooking my meal I just turned the pan over in the coals and "washed" it by literally burning it clean while they were at the creek scrubbing their "camping" cook kits. LOL

One last thing and I am done babbling.  For those of you that might be interested in an physically lighter alternative to cast iron I highly recommend de Buyer pans.  That company describes it as "high mineral cast iron" but it is really steel.  If you have ever been in a professional kitchen and seen the steel skillets they are de Buyer pans (made in France).  I have a collection of them and they are as good as iron but considerably lighter in weight.  They start out a metallic gray color and darkened over time to a jet black exterior and a "blackish" interior.  With proper care they are as non-stick as a well an "aged" cast iron pan.  If anyone reading this goes looking for them I have to warn you.......they are pretty expensive especially compared to cast iron. 

Peace,
"MagicDave"


"When there is no life in the soil it is just dirt."
"MagicDave"
Loren Hunt


Joined: Jul 20, 2011
Posts: 44
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - Zone 5B
great topic. i have a griswold 8. i want more cast iron. i know griswold and wagner are the two best. what about others like sperry & favorite piqua ware?
Len Ovens


Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Posts: 1278
Location: Vancouver Island
    
  15
lhunt wrote:
great topic. i have a griswold 8. i want more cast iron. i know griswold and wagner are the two best. what about others like sperry & favorite piqua ware?


My hint is to check out some of the ethnic stores. The people from India have some neat stuff (not just cast iron) and same with China Town. The only new cast iron pan with a machined cook surface I have seen was in an Indian store. I have been very happy with it. I think I got many of my kitchen knives from a Vietnamese store. Don't be afraid to look in new places.
 
 
subject: using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!
 
cast iron skillet 49er

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