Enjoyed your post on cast iron -- saw it after I had already purchased a Lodge, and I see your point. Found some hope in your spatula idea, though...I'm only twenty-one, so I'm hoping that by the time I'm expected to do some good ol'-fashioned grandmotherly cooking it'll be...well, not so terrible, if not replaced.
Should work fine. I personally like something a bit more flexible like the dollar store ones. I don't think the corners matter, but the front edge should be straight. Rounded corners help if the fry pan also has rounded corners. I have also used a putty knife for cleaning and the scraper on the back of a BBQ cleaning brush (also available at your local dollar store). Both seem to help get a nice smooth surface. This doesn't happen over night, it takes some use to fill the voids... burn some stuff (or brown well) like ground beef or pork with lots of fat.... works for me.
Joined: Jan 08, 2011
Location: Lynnwood, Washington
I'll add my conviction that the perfect spatula, flexible with corner curves that kinda fit the pan. That's what gives the surface like glass. The spatula assures that no bumbs remain after cooking. Yep, the right metal spatula is the necessary accessory to a cast iron pan.
Howdy Paul, Thanks for your informative website on cast iron cookware. My question has to do with spatula use? I understand your reasoning regarding knocking down the bumps and creating a flat slick surface on which to cook by scraping the pan with a metal spatula, but is it possible to scrape too hard? Or too much? I find myself scraping with force after I've cooked to scrape clean the pan before wiping it out with a paper towel. But sometimes a gewy black residue builds on the scraper's edge and I wonder if I'm scraping off the polymerized fats that I hope will make the surface slick in the future. Sorry for the long windedness of this question but simply put, can I do harm or remove the goods from the pan's surface by scraping too hard or too much during use. Thank you. Eric
GBR (gewy black residue) is normal. The surface of the pan is not perfectly smooth. The iron will have tiny dips and bumps. The straight leading edge of the metal spatula serves to plane the top surface of the pan. The tiny dips will fill while the raised bumps will wear. It takes time to get to the mirror finish. Once achieved, GBR production will decline.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
I used to race straight to electronics when I went to thrift stores. Thanks to Griswold however, I now race straight to housewares.
The two things I am looking for are, of course, any cast iron that looks smooth - but just as important - flat fronted spatulas.
My first cast iron experiences were terrible and I believe the spatula was the reason. Plastic ones are useless, and a rounded front edge will make you crazy.
My advice would be to get whatever flat front steel spatula you can right away, and don't fret the corner shape nor the handle design. You can then spend time looking for one with nice rounded corners that match the pan's corners and if you're lucky a wood handle. But in the meantime, you want to be scraping with a flat edge immediately.
Go to any kitchen supply store - every moderate sized city usually has at least one. Don't be afraid of it looking like it's for "professionals only". They will happily sell you a stainless steel flipper. Get a flexible one, it will likely be under five bucks. I tend to avoid the ones with thicker blads that won't bend. THey will work but not as nicely as the flexy ones.
You can scrape as hard as you want with the flat front without worrying about pan damage. Even on a barely seasoned pan, you can use sheer flipper force to get an egg up off the iron with minimal sticking. And it will just get easier over time.
I never give or lend any of my surplus CI without passing along a flat-fronted-flexy-flipper to go with it.
Joined: Aug 26, 2010
Location: Vancouver Island
coalmine_canary wrote: My advice would be to get whatever flat front steel spatula you can right away, and don't fret the corner shape nor the handle design. You can then spend time looking for one with nice rounded corners that match the pan's corners and if you're lucky a wood handle. But in the meantime, you want to be scraping with a flat edge immediately.
I have found the dollar store has nice flexible flippers for about $1.50... $1.50 will also get me a set of two putty knives (iron blade) that work really well as scrapers/flippers too. They also make a great dough knife for dividing dough into loaves/rolls.
My metal spatulas with sharp corners are only ever used on my cast iron griddle. Since I have been living alone for so many years now I have even picked those up and looked at them. I keep my 8" and 10" pans on the stove top at all times. I mostly use my Lodge 14" cast iron wok though. I bought it about 1993(?) somewhere around then. The entire surface was bumpy and I had to grind some stainless steel utensils to fit the curve. Now after all these years of scraping with those shaped to fit utensils the bottom and up the side about 2 inches is as smooth as glass. the bumpy surface father up the sides works perfectly to hold the food that is done cooking so it can drain or be returned at the very end. I love my cast iron wok now as much as my old Griswold pans.
"When there is no life in the soil it is just dirt."