Author Topic: Cast iron reseasoning  (Read 36259 times)

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Cast iron reseasoning
« on: January 20, 2014, 02:25:33 PM »
I made baked beans in my cast iron pan after reading assurances on the almighty internet that concerns about ruining the seasoning with acidic foods were unfounded.

So, naturally, you could see bare metal in areas when I was done. I've made several attempts at reaseasoning it, with some success, but it's still quite dull/rough in spots, and food sticks somewhat - even stuff like bacon.

I tried using regular canola oil, but ended up with a sticky film. I've cooked bacon and sausage in it, but without noticeable improvement in the finish, and it still sticks in places. I've tried curing it with lard, which seems to work the best, but hasn't fully restored the finish.

The internet is full of conflicting advice, so I thought I'd head here for experienced wisdom.

This is my first foray into cast iron, and I would really like to cook with it regularly. As it stands, I trot it out every few months or so, and spend as much time trying to restore the seasoning as I do coming food. I imagine my irregular use isn't helping the seasoning much?

Any tips for getting it seasoned, keeping whatever seasoning I've built in place, or general advice for success in the land of cast iron is much appreciated*!

*If it doesn't involve cooking scrapple or pork roll, all the better, because ew.

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 02:32:03 PM »
First off, I have no problems with scrapple.

Here's what we do.  Like you said: you're going to get lots of conflicting advice.

If your pan is a mess... you might want to start over.  You can either clean it with oven cleaner or (if you have one of those self-cleaning ovens) you can put it in the oven on the cleaning cycle.

If it's "mostly ok" ...  We use a generic crisco-like product.  Ours is an animal fat based product.  Whenever the pan looks a little dry we take a paper towel and lightly coat it.  Very lightly.  You just want it to be shiny.  I set it on a top burner for a minute or so with some heat then put it in the oven.  (My oven has a standing pilot light... so it's always about 150 degrees.)   You don't want it to puddle ... that's part of what gives you the stickies.  That means easy on the coating.  You can also set it upside down... so that it *cannot* puddle.

Alternative:  If starting from scratch... if you, by chance, have a smoker.... And you're smoking meat anyway.... you can (again: lightly) coat the thing in crisco-like substance and let that puppy bake all day low and slow in the smoker.  You'll get an awesome first coating that way. 

gecko10x

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2014, 02:33:36 PM »
Season with mineral oil, and no acidic foods in the near future. Once it's built back up, you shouldn't have too much trouble with those foods though.

In terms of keeping it seasoned, don't use soap when cleaning it (cleaning while still hot works best), and after washing, put back on the burner on low to dry, then brush with mineral oil to store until next use.

Edit: Mineral oil won't leave sticky residue, that's why we use it.

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2014, 02:38:51 PM »
I have to say that, after starting cooking with cast iron just two years ago, I have not found the process anywhere as easy or convenient as implied by the almighty internet.  After about a year I ended up buying a small non-stick pan for eggs.  But now that I have this small non-stick pan, what do I need the cast iron for again? 

I did try heating it up on a grill to cook some steaks, but the result was no better than just putting the steaks directly on the grill.

For me, the jury is out.  It does not clean up very easily, but maybe I need to re-season it.  I'm getting the impression that cast-iron cooking is really just a labor of love for those who love to take care of ancient metal.

geekette

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2014, 02:45:22 PM »
I'm with you, dragoncar.  I bought one, tried it, and donated it.  I think my husband's obsession with soapy cleaning was part of the problem, but really, I'm happy with what I have.

gecko10x

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2014, 02:46:22 PM »
I have to say that, after starting cooking with cast iron just two years ago, I have not found the process anywhere as easy or convenient as implied by the almighty internet.

I would have to agree. When we switched, it took some persistence, research, and acceptance, but I DO like cooking on it.

Cast Iron, IME, is not "non-stick" like Teflon. If that's what you like (I HATE it), then don't use cast Iron. It's more like "removable" when used properly (and there are some tricks).

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2014, 02:57:31 PM »
Funny, I just pulled out my grandmother's cast iron dutch oven from the 1920's.  It's going to need some elbow grease and seasoning.  It's seen thousands of pot roasts and stews in three generations.  Cast iron is tough to beat if you make these dishes on top of the stove.

These days, I prefer the slow cooker and the easier clean up of a non-stick pan for pre-browning.  Eggs are the perfect food for a non-stick pan.  I don't want a lot of the non-stick coating in the food, so I try to limit the time food is in those pans.

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2014, 03:06:52 PM »
Here's something I don't understand.  How do restaurants care for their cast iron?  I love getting fajitas or whatever sizzling in a (apparently well seasoned) cast-iron pan, but that doesn't seem conducive to typical restaurant clean-up procedure (stick it in a high-powered dishwasher).  Do they lovingly scrape off the excess and re-oil?  Does that meet hygiene codes?  Or do they do a thorough cleaning and then just oil it up/reseason immediately before use?

luigi49

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2014, 03:16:39 PM »
I would reseason by cooking bacon on it.  I have a cast iron that i never wash.  I just wipe it over with a paper towel after cooking.   The cast Iron is good stuff. 

gecko10x

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2014, 03:30:34 PM »
Eggs are the perfect food for a non-stick pan.

Ha! Have to totally disagree with that; fried eggs can only be properly made in cast Iron - otherwise, how do you get those perfectly crispy edges??

Russ

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2014, 03:40:43 PM »
I have some carbon steel pans...basically the same thing...and I never really "seasoned" them in the regular sense. Just cook a bunch of fatty stuff, don't use soap (and only water if you really need to), and it'll build up on its own in no time. Now I do eggs, pancakes, acidic things (you do have to have a pretty thick layer first), etc. no problem. I recommend trying this.

If you want to want to go the normal route though make sure you go low and slow. The already existing seasoning can burn off if you're not careful. or just scour and start again

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2014, 03:45:58 PM »
Eggs are the perfect food for a non-stick pan.

Ha! Have to totally disagree with that; fried eggs can only be properly made in cast Iron - otherwise, how do you get those perfectly crispy edges??

Use lots of fat.  You're allowed to do this in non-stick pans also.

I would reseason by cooking bacon on it.  I have a cast iron that i never wash.  I just wipe it over with a paper towel after cooking.   The cast Iron is good stuff. 

Believe me I cook plenty of bacon.  But I'm at the point where I feel like bacon is the only thing I'm allowed to cook, as anything else ends up sticking.

Burninator

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2014, 04:30:35 PM »
I do a lot of cooking at work (I'm a firefighter), and have learned a few tricks from some crusty old-timers about cast iron. First rule, don't wash with soap, and avoid water if you can. To clean cast iron after use, simply use a clean rag or paper towel and some coarse salt and scrub away. The salt acts as an abrasive to remove food, while leaving the seasoning (grease). To season, heat up the pan and drop a spoonful of bacon grease in. Bacon grease adds great flavor and once cool imparts a nice non-stick coating. To fry an egg, add a small amount of olive oil or other vegetable oil to the pan and swirl around. I frequently cook fried eggs in cast iron with no sticking. Cast iron is not the right tool for the job if you plan on making high liquid content food, i.e. soup, beans, sauces, etc. Also, highly acidic food like marinara sauce will remove all the seasoning and make your sauce taste weird.  Cast iron works best for pan frying, or for cornbread.

lizzzi

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2014, 04:39:58 PM »
Ditto for Burninator.

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2014, 04:45:25 PM »
I do a lot of cooking at work (I'm a firefighter), and have learned a few tricks from some crusty old-timers about cast iron. First rule, don't wash with soap, and avoid water if you can. To clean cast iron after use, simply use a clean rag or paper towel and some coarse salt and scrub away. The salt acts as an abrasive to remove food, while leaving the seasoning (grease). To season, heat up the pan and drop a spoonful of bacon grease in. Bacon grease adds great flavor and once cool imparts a nice non-stick coating. To fry an egg, add a small amount of olive oil or other vegetable oil to the pan and swirl around. I frequently cook fried eggs in cast iron with no sticking. Cast iron is not the right tool for the job if you plan on making high liquid content food, i.e. soup, beans, sauces, etc. Also, highly acidic food like marinara sauce will remove all the seasoning and make your sauce taste weird.  Cast iron works best for pan frying, or for cornbread.

Let me ask this:  why do you use cast iron when it has so many restrictions?  None of what you said sound like a benefit to me.  Is this just for people who are scared of teflon?

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2014, 04:49:29 PM »
My cast iron skillet lives on the stove top, and I'm pretty brutal to it. I've never felt the need to baby it which is why I love it so much. I never wash, and very very rarely do I run it under water. If food is stuck to it, I scrape it off with a metal spatula. I never purposefully 'season' it, I just cook a lot of vegetables with all different types of fat in it and it's served me well. My favorites are brussel sprouts sauteed in butter, or caramelizing onions. (I guess that's my approach to reseasoning if i botched the coating somehow. Just keep using it!) I also find that a metal spatula works best, especially for fried eggs.

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2014, 05:00:09 PM »
I don't think there are any restrictions.  I have 2 cast iron pans; I use them for everything.  I've scratched teflon pans when I forget I'm cooking with teflon, but there's really nothing I can do to wreck my cast iron pans.  I cook with a metal spatula on them, and I do use soap and a metal brush to clean it off after cooking (if I'm cooking a lot of stove top items, I usually use the pan without bothering to wash it out), then cook off the water on the stove so it doesn't rust.  If it's looking less greasy than it should, I wipe a bit of oil around it with a paper towel.  Bam. Treat it like a regular dish, but oil it if it looks sad.  Not painful in the least.

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2014, 05:18:06 PM »
Some of mine are 90 years old.  You can cook stews and pot roasts in them, that's been done in these since they were new.  Hard to tell where the seasoning ends and the iron begins on the Dutch oven.  I bought some Wagner ware cast iron 35 years ago, it's fine except it needs occasional seasoning.  I was gifted a set of Al-Clad in the late 80's, but it is harder to use.

Non-stick has a place, but I still use the cast iron.









luigi49

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2014, 05:29:09 PM »
Eggs are the perfect food for a non-stick pan.

Ha! Have to totally disagree with that; fried eggs can only be properly made in cast Iron - otherwise, how do you get those perfectly crispy edges??

Use lots of fat.  You're allowed to do this in non-stick pans also.

I would reseason by cooking bacon on it.  I have a cast iron that i never wash.  I just wipe it over with a paper towel after cooking.   The cast Iron is good stuff. 

Believe me I cook plenty of bacon.  But I'm at the point where I feel like bacon is the only thing I'm allowed to cook, as anything else ends up sticking.

you have to put oil when you cook eggs.  just a little bit of bacon oil

Russ

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2014, 05:35:19 PM »
I do a lot of cooking at work (I'm a firefighter), and have learned a few tricks from some crusty old-timers about cast iron. First rule, don't wash with soap, and avoid water if you can. To clean cast iron after use, simply use a clean rag or paper towel and some coarse salt and scrub away. The salt acts as an abrasive to remove food, while leaving the seasoning (grease). To season, heat up the pan and drop a spoonful of bacon grease in. Bacon grease adds great flavor and once cool imparts a nice non-stick coating. To fry an egg, add a small amount of olive oil or other vegetable oil to the pan and swirl around. I frequently cook fried eggs in cast iron with no sticking. Cast iron is not the right tool for the job if you plan on making high liquid content food, i.e. soup, beans, sauces, etc. Also, highly acidic food like marinara sauce will remove all the seasoning and make your sauce taste weird.  Cast iron works best for pan frying, or for cornbread.

Let me ask this:  why do you use cast iron when it has so many restrictions?  None of what you said sound like a benefit to me.  Is this just for people who are scared of teflon?

Not scared of teflon, but anything plastic in the kitchen is categorically a disposable POS and I don't like that

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2014, 05:56:30 PM »

The problems we have with teflon are:
* it is awesome for about a year.  Then it sucks rocks and needs to be replaced.  It is a disposable finish.  Excess heat or friction makes it let go.

Cast iron (and for that matter, just plain steel and aluminum pans) will last you hundreds of years.  If something *does* stick (and, quite honestly, it doesn't stick that often) you can scrub it, wail on it, Hell --- you can use an angle grinder with a wire brush if you really want to.  We have a whole host of ancient pans.

In fact: older cast iron is actually better.  The older stuff is slick smooth BEFORE you season it.  The newer stuff is pebbly.  I suspect this is to make the seasoning process easier to start... but it makes a stickier pan before it is fully seasoned, too.

Clean up tip:  deglaze the damn pan!  When you are done cooking, pour some water in there, take your big metal spatula and scrape it around.  It is now clean.

lentilman

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2014, 06:16:07 PM »
Your goal is to prepare a very thin polymer on the surface of the cast iron when seasoning it.  Yes, it's actually a chemical reaction!

A great summary is here: http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/

I used this same process to season an orgreenic ceramic pan, and haven't had anything stick yet.  Even eggs can be made with no oil at all, and they slide right out.

Jack

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2014, 07:04:19 PM »
Let me ask this:  why do you use cast iron when it has so many restrictions?  None of what you said sound like a benefit to me.  Is this just for people who are scared of teflon?

You can heat a cast-iron pan screaming hot (e.g. 500 F) to properly sear things like steaks. If you tried to heat Teflon up that much, it would off-gas toxic fumes. Also, because of its heat capacity, cast iron stays hot much longer than a Teflon[-coated aluminum] pan (the aluminum has a higher specific heat, but the cast iron is thick and heavy enough to more than make up for it). The same property also makes it much better for frying than a teflon pan, since the oil temperature would change more slowly.

Cast Iron is not only cheaper to buy, but cheaper over time. It lasts essentially forever, while teflon pans -- even expensive ones -- will wear out and become unsafe to use (due to teflon flaking off into your food) within a few years of normal use.

Rural

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2014, 07:07:13 PM »
If anything sticks, put in about an inch of water, heat to a simmer, and scrape the hell out of it with a metal spatula (it won't be difficult; nothing sticks in boiling water). Dump it out, dump in some oil, tilt the pan all around to spread the oil, and set it back on the eye until everything stops spitting. Done, unless you have oil puddles, in which case you can wipe them out once it cools if you feel like it, but it's okay to ignore if you don't.

If you really, really want to season it now, use lard instead of oil. Works even better than Crisco, which works pretty damn good.

I use nothing but cast iron for fry pans, though I do have a steel wok because I'm too cheap to buy a cast iron one until this one dies or I need to stirfry on the wood stove. I do a lot of baking in cast iron, too, because my grandmother would return from the dead to smack me if I made cornbread in anything else. The pans don't break and don't suck, and the cornbread doesn't stick. Good deal all around. Even the new 12 one I got for Christmas is now nicely seasoned.

Editing to add the acidic food thing is a myth. I do it all the time. Clean it up with the simmering water and you're set.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2014, 07:09:01 PM by Rural »

Spork

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2014, 07:18:26 PM »
If anything sticks, put in about an inch of water, heat to a simmer, and scrape the hell out of it with a metal spatula (it won't be difficult; nothing sticks in boiling water). Dump it out, dump in some oil, tilt the pan all around to spread the oil, and set it back on the eye until everything stops spitting. Done, unless you have oil puddles, in which case you can wipe them out once it cools if you feel like it, but it's okay to ignore if you don't.

If you really, really want to season it now, use lard instead of oil. Works even better than Crisco, which works pretty damn good.

I use nothing but cast iron for fry pans, though I do have a steel wok because I'm too cheap to buy a cast iron one until this one dies or I need to stirfry on the wood stove. I do a lot of baking in cast iron, too, because my grandmother would return from the dead to smack me if I made cornbread in anything else. The pans don't break and don't suck, and the cornbread doesn't stick. Good deal all around. Even the new 12 one I got for Christmas is now nicely seasoned.

Editing to add the acidic food thing is a myth. I do it all the time. Clean it up with the simmering water and you're set.

Word.

If you want a good pan and you're interested in cast iron, listen to folks that use them. 

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2014, 07:27:48 PM »
If anything sticks, put in about an inch of water, heat to a simmer, and scrape the hell out of it with a metal spatula (it won't be difficult; nothing sticks in boiling water). Dump it out, dump in some oil, tilt the pan all around to spread the oil, and set it back on the eye until everything stops spitting. Done, unless you have oil puddles, in which case you can wipe them out once it cools if you feel like it, but it's okay to ignore if you don't.

If you really, really want to season it now, use lard instead of oil. Works even better than Crisco, which works pretty damn good.

I use nothing but cast iron for fry pans, though I do have a steel wok because I'm too cheap to buy a cast iron one until this one dies or I need to stirfry on the wood stove. I do a lot of baking in cast iron, too, because my grandmother would return from the dead to smack me if I made cornbread in anything else. The pans don't break and don't suck, and the cornbread doesn't stick. Good deal all around. Even the new 12 one I got for Christmas is now nicely seasoned.

Editing to add the acidic food thing is a myth. I do it all the time. Clean it up with the simmering water and you're set.

Word.

If you want a good pan and you're interested in cast iron, listen to folks that use them.



Clean up tip:  deglaze the damn pan!  When you are done cooking, pour some water in there, take your big metal spatula and scrape it around.  It is now clean.

In my experience, deglazing is the last thing you want to do.  After deglazing, it's like I'm starting the seasoning from scratch.  And I end up scouring ever single time.  Personally, this is too much work.


you have to put oil when you cook eggs.  just a little bit of bacon oil

Of course I used oil.  Usually a ton left after cooking the bacon.  Eggs still stick, though.  Not everywhere but always one little bit here or there that means I have to rinse and scrape again.

Edit:  How about one of you come to my house and cook me breakfast? :-P

Jack

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2014, 07:54:26 PM »
I do have a steel wok because I'm too cheap to buy a cast iron one until this one dies or I need to stirfry on the wood stove.

Carbon steel, right? If so, that's good -- woks are supposed to be carbon steel.

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2014, 08:40:22 PM »



Clean up tip:  deglaze the damn pan!  When you are done cooking, pour some water in there, take your big metal spatula and scrape it around.  It is now clean.

In my experience, deglazing is the last thing you want to do.  After deglazing, it's like I'm starting the seasoning from scratch.  And I end up scouring ever single time.  Personally, this is too much work.


You may believe me or not.  We have at least one that I'd estimate to be from the early 1900s.  We use it all the time.  Another (newer) ... deglaze every morning, wipe, put away.


dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #28 on: January 20, 2014, 09:30:11 PM »



Clean up tip:  deglaze the damn pan!  When you are done cooking, pour some water in there, take your big metal spatula and scrape it around.  It is now clean.

In my experience, deglazing is the last thing you want to do.  After deglazing, it's like I'm starting the seasoning from scratch.  And I end up scouring ever single time.  Personally, this is too much work.


You may believe me or not.  We have at least one that I'd estimate to be from the early 1900s.  We use it all the time.  Another (newer) ... deglaze every morning, wipe, put away.

Hmm, didn't mean to imply I don't believe you.  It's just not my experience.

But I am confused.  Deglazing removes stuck-on bits.  So if nothing sticks to your pan, why deglaze?  Or are you saying things always stick and it's just very easy to clean off?

m8547

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #29 on: January 20, 2014, 09:37:15 PM »
Your goal is to prepare a very thin polymer on the surface of the cast iron when seasoning it.  Yes, it's actually a chemical reaction!

A great summary is here: http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/

I used this same process to season an orgreenic ceramic pan, and haven't had anything stick yet.  Even eggs can be made with no oil at all, and they slide right out.

I was going to post the same thing. I haven't tried it, but that's probably what I'll do when I get a cast iron pan.

I have a carbon steel pan, and I seasoned it by burning on a few layers of rice bran oil. I used rice bran oil because it was the highest smoke point oil I could find and obtain for a reasonable price ($10 for a bottle was already more than I wanted to spend). I wiped a thin layer on, then put it on the stove on high until it mostly stopped smoking. Repeat a few times. After that, I put it in the oven at set as high as it would go (the scale on the dial ends at 500, but I was probably at around 550) for some time. I removed the pan and set it on the stove to cool. Be careful with the handle. I got a 2nd degree burn from trying to move the pan before it had cooled because I normally never bake pans, so I didn't associate handles with maybe very hot! My pan looks like it's 30 years old now; completely black on the cooking surface and brown everywhere else.

You also have to use it properly. The trick is to make sure the pan is hot enough before adding food. A lot of people say to add cold oil to the hot pan, but I don't see how it would make any difference if you add oil when the pan is cold or hot. Adding food when the pan is hot enough is key, though, so the outer layer can cook and release.

I've found the seasoning on my pan is best for things like eggs, pancakes, and vegetables. A coating of oil is necessary, but I don't mind cooking with some fat (or lots of fat. see http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/29/killing-your-1000-grocery-bill/). Meats always stick for some reason and end up pulling up some of the seasoning. As a result, I need to reseason the pan soon.

Rural

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2014, 05:19:21 AM »
I do have a steel wok because I'm too cheap to buy a cast iron one until this one dies or I need to stirfry on the wood stove.

Carbon steel, right? If so, that's good -- woks are supposed to be carbon steel.

I don't have a clue; the thrift store where I got it did not indicate much about it at all. :-)

It looks a lot like this one, however: http://cdn.blisstree.com/files/2009/03/carbon-steel-wok-michelle.jpg

Spork

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2014, 08:08:50 AM »



Clean up tip:  deglaze the damn pan!  When you are done cooking, pour some water in there, take your big metal spatula and scrape it around.  It is now clean.

In my experience, deglazing is the last thing you want to do.  After deglazing, it's like I'm starting the seasoning from scratch.  And I end up scouring ever single time.  Personally, this is too much work.


You may believe me or not.  We have at least one that I'd estimate to be from the early 1900s.  We use it all the time.  Another (newer) ... deglaze every morning, wipe, put away.

Hmm, didn't mean to imply I don't believe you.  It's just not my experience.

But I am confused.  Deglazing removes stuck-on bits.  So if nothing sticks to your pan, why deglaze?  Or are you saying things always stick and it's just very easy to clean off?

I wouldn't say "things always stick".  But some bits do stick sometimes.  I've never had them stick in the manner "I cannot pick this food item up out of the pan" ... more "there are tidbits left".  And yes, a tad bit of water... and one swipe with a thin metal spatula and they're all gone.  Wipe with rag or paper towel.  Done.   When dry, it should still look shiny.  If it doesn't thin, think smear of grease, little bit of heat, done.

ketchup

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2014, 08:55:26 AM »
Cast iron is great.  I've found coconut oil to work great for seasoning.  We also cook our fair share of bacon, so that helps too I'm sure.

We bought this cast-iron skillet about  a year and a half ago.  At the same time, and for about the same price, we bought a similarly-sized Teflon non-stick pan.  The cast-iron is going strong (and should for decades), and works better than the day we bought it.  The Teflon is now semi-stick (a little bit of the Teflon goes into our food with each use, making it stick a little more the next time) and falling apart.  Junk.

Gerard

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2014, 09:18:39 AM »
Sometimes things stick to cast iron because of hot spots (or, I guess, technically, cold spots): your stove heats the pan unevenly. To avoid this, start the pan over low-medium heat for a few minutes before cranking up the heat. I know, sounds fussy, but it's worth it when you get that badass cast-iron brown on your food.

(...and I second all the recommendations that you season with a very thin sheen of oil, or a non-plant oil, because of the polymerization thing...)

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2014, 01:08:29 PM »
Sometimes things stick to cast iron because of hot spots (or, I guess, technically, cold spots): your stove heats the pan unevenly. To avoid this, start the pan over low-medium heat for a few minutes before cranking up the heat. I know, sounds fussy, but it's worth it when you get that badass cast-iron brown on your food.

(...and I second all the recommendations that you season with a very thin sheen of oil, or a non-plant oil, because of the polymerization thing...)

Good point... I've always spent way too much time preheating the pan.  Thus, if I want some quick eggs before I head off to work I have to preheat during my shower or the eggs will take forever to cook.  Another complaint of mine.  Cast iron just takes a lot of babying.  From these responses I'm really starting to see it as a lifestyle choice.  All the above tips are "restrictions" as far as I'm concerned.  I just want to heat up some food, wipe the pan, and eat.

greaper007

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2014, 01:21:00 PM »
Just deep fry something.   My choice would be either fish and chips or fried chicken.   Deep frying is the absolute best way to re-season a cast iron pan or pot.   Contrary to popular belief, an occasional deep fried dinner isn't that bad for you.   If you fry at the right temperature, deep frying is considered a dry method of cooking, so very little oil actually invades your food.   If anything, the breading is what's bad for you.   I've brought back rusty cast iron with very little work by deep frying.

After you do this, here's how you proceed in the future.   After your done with the pan, and decide to clean it (often that means covered in food gunk the next day for me) just give it a once over with a plastic scrubber in the sink with warm water only, no soap.    Once it's clean don't dry it, just stick it on the range and bring it up to a medium hot operating temperature.   Once a drop of water dances on the surface, put about a tablespoon of canola or anyother high temperature flavor neutral oil in the pan and let it sit until it's shimmering.   Pick up the pan and move the puddle around to cover the whole surface and let it cool down a little bit.    Then feel free to wipe out the pan with a rag or paper towel, making sure to rub the oil into any dry spots before removing it.   Then let it cool down and put it away.

That's it.    I haven't re-seasoned any of my cast iron in over 7 years, and then it was only because I though i had to, and I cook marinara at least once a week in an ancient lodge dutch oven.

MicroRN

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2014, 01:35:34 PM »
I've found the best way to cook eggs in cast iron is to add butter and let the pan get HOT.  Once you see the butter browning, pour or crack in the eggs.  They never stick like this, and then I just wipe the pan out with a kitchen cloth.   

I think cast iron can seem finicky when you aren't used to it.  There is a bit of a learning curve.  However, even our expensive ($100+) Teflon pan only lasted about 3 years before the coating started to chip.  I hated not being able to use a metal spatula or cut things in the pan, and it just never seemed to brown things as well as the iron did.  One of my iron skillets is older than I am and still in beautiful shape.  My other skillets are who knows how old, and were bought for $2-5 each at Goodwill.  I even have a 3-legged dutch oven that I've used while camping. 


netskyblue

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2014, 01:40:09 PM »
Here's something I don't understand.  How do restaurants care for their cast iron?

In the restaurants I've worked at, they aren't washed.  They're scraped clean and heated to cook off/burn off food particles, then wiped with oil on paper towels.

And for those that are only cooked in, as opposed to served tableside, nothing happens to them during the night's work, they're just used over and over to prepare whatever food item is prepared in them, and they're scraped down at the end of the night.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2014, 05:39:07 PM »
Here's something I don't understand.  How do restaurants care for their cast iron?

In the restaurants I've worked at, they aren't washed.  They're scraped clean and heated to cook off/burn off food particles, then wiped with oil on paper towels.

And for those that are only cooked in, as opposed to served tableside, nothing happens to them during the night's work, they're just used over and over to prepare whatever food item is prepared in them, and they're scraped down at the end of the night.

That's what I do with my cast iron skillet.

starbuck

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2014, 05:50:43 PM »
Good point... I've always spent way too much time preheating the pan.  Thus, if I want some quick eggs before I head off to work I have to preheat during my shower or the eggs will take forever to cook.  Another complaint of mine. 

Hmm, do you cook with gas or electric? I have a gas stove, and I usually start it at medium heat, then turn it down to low when I'm actually putting eggs in the pan to fry. Takes 3-4 min max here. 

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2014, 06:31:38 PM »
Good point... I've always spent way too much time preheating the pan.  Thus, if I want some quick eggs before I head off to work I have to preheat during my shower or the eggs will take forever to cook.  Another complaint of mine. 

Hmm, do you cook with gas or electric? I have a gas stove, and I usually start it at medium heat, then turn it down to low when I'm actually putting eggs in the pan to fry. Takes 3-4 min max here.

Electric... my small (aluminum I think) non-stick pan is ready in under a minute.  Apparently cast iron does not have particularly good heat conductivity

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #41 on: January 21, 2014, 07:51:02 PM »
Good point... I've always spent way too much time preheating the pan.  Thus, if I want some quick eggs before I head off to work I have to preheat during my shower or the eggs will take forever to cook.  Another complaint of mine. 

Hmm, do you cook with gas or electric? I have a gas stove, and I usually start it at medium heat, then turn it down to low when I'm actually putting eggs in the pan to fry. Takes 3-4 min max here.


Electric... my small (aluminum I think) non-stick pan is ready in under a minute.  Apparently cast iron does not have particularly good heat conductivity

Not like aluminum.  It's a trade.  Retention vs conductivity.  Both aluminum and cast iron have their place (though personally, I'd still put non-stick in a don't care category... but that's just me.)  We have quite a few 50+ year old non-coated aluminum pans too.

Electric also just doesn't transfer the heat like gas does.  You have to chase it.  Gas: when on, it's freaking hot.  When off: it's not.  Electric: you have to lead it a bit.  It's probably what you're used to.

greaper007

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #42 on: January 21, 2014, 08:20:59 PM »
Good point... I've always spent way too much time preheating the pan.  Thus, if I want some quick eggs before I head off to work I have to preheat during my shower or the eggs will take forever to cook.  Another complaint of mine. 

Hmm, do you cook with gas or electric? I have a gas stove, and I usually start it at medium heat, then turn it down to low when I'm actually putting eggs in the pan to fry. Takes 3-4 min max here.


Electric... my small (aluminum I think) non-stick pan is ready in under a minute.  Apparently cast iron does not have particularly good heat conductivity

Not like aluminum.  It's a trade.  Retention vs conductivity.  Both aluminum and cast iron have their place (though personally, I'd still put non-stick in a don't care category... but that's just me.)  We have quite a few 50+ year old non-coated aluminum pans too.

Electric also just doesn't transfer the heat like gas does.  You have to chase it.  Gas: when on, it's freaking hot.  When off: it's not.  Electric: you have to lead it a bit.  It's probably what you're used to.

Agreed, I have an electric range and I tend to turn it to high right when I put the skillet on the burner.   It's generally hot enough to use right when I've finished chopping an onion.   Then I turn it to 8 (out of 10) and fry away.   Once you get used to cast iron there's no turning back.   And no strange cancer causing chemicals like you may get with teflon or aluminum.

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #43 on: January 21, 2014, 08:42:37 PM »
Good point... I've always spent way too much time preheating the pan.  Thus, if I want some quick eggs before I head off to work I have to preheat during my shower or the eggs will take forever to cook.  Another complaint of mine. 

Hmm, do you cook with gas or electric? I have a gas stove, and I usually start it at medium heat, then turn it down to low when I'm actually putting eggs in the pan to fry. Takes 3-4 min max here.


Electric... my small (aluminum I think) non-stick pan is ready in under a minute.  Apparently cast iron does not have particularly good heat conductivity

Not like aluminum.  It's a trade.  Retention vs conductivity.  Both aluminum and cast iron have their place (though personally, I'd still put non-stick in a don't care category... but that's just me.)  We have quite a few 50+ year old non-coated aluminum pans too.

Electric also just doesn't transfer the heat like gas does.  You have to chase it.  Gas: when on, it's freaking hot.  When off: it's not.  Electric: you have to lead it a bit.  It's probably what you're used to.

Agreed, I have an electric range and I tend to turn it to high right when I put the skillet on the burner.   It's generally hot enough to use right when I've finished chopping an onion.   Then I turn it to 8 (out of 10) and fry away.   Once you get used to cast iron there's no turning back.   And no strange cancer causing chemicals like you may get with teflon or aluminum.

Strange cancer causing chemicals like that layer of free-radicals you call "seasoning"?  I haven't seen any good arguments for why the cast-iron coating is less dangerous than teflon.

I have of course cooked on gas, including the burner on my outdoor grill, and it wasn't much better.  I do prefer gas cooking in general, but it doesn't cure the downside of cast iron for me.

greaper007

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #44 on: January 21, 2014, 09:16:02 PM »
Good point... I've always spent way too much time preheating the pan.  Thus, if I want some quick eggs before I head off to work I have to preheat during my shower or the eggs will take forever to cook.  Another complaint of mine. 

Hmm, do you cook with gas or electric? I have a gas stove, and I usually start it at medium heat, then turn it down to low when I'm actually putting eggs in the pan to fry. Takes 3-4 min max here.


Electric... my small (aluminum I think) non-stick pan is ready in under a minute.  Apparently cast iron does not have particularly good heat conductivity

Not like aluminum.  It's a trade.  Retention vs conductivity.  Both aluminum and cast iron have their place (though personally, I'd still put non-stick in a don't care category... but that's just me.)  We have quite a few 50+ year old non-coated aluminum pans too.

Electric also just doesn't transfer the heat like gas does.  You have to chase it.  Gas: when on, it's freaking hot.  When off: it's not.  Electric: you have to lead it a bit.  It's probably what you're used to.

Agreed, I have an electric range and I tend to turn it to high right when I put the skillet on the burner.   It's generally hot enough to use right when I've finished chopping an onion.   Then I turn it to 8 (out of 10) and fry away.   Once you get used to cast iron there's no turning back.   And no strange cancer causing chemicals like you may get with teflon or aluminum.

Strange cancer causing chemicals like that layer of free-radicals you call "seasoning"?  I haven't seen any good arguments for why the cast-iron coating is less dangerous than teflon.

I have of course cooked on gas, including the burner on my outdoor grill, and it wasn't much better.  I do prefer gas cooking in general, but it doesn't cure the downside of cast iron for me.

You have to cook the hell out of even olive oil to get it to the point that it oxidizes.  http://scienceornot.net/2012/09/15/is-it-safe-to-cook-with-olive-oil/.   I don't trust teflon for the same reason I don't trust most plastics.   15 years ago we didn't know anything about BPA or polyethylene and plastic seemed like a safer alternative to glass, now we know better.

Cast iron, glass, etc are old technologies that seem to have proven themselves as far as safety to humans is concerned.    Beyond that, cast iron excels at everything I put in it.    Lots of thermal mass means fantastic browning, great heat retention and no hot spots.    It's also dirt cheap and will last your great grand children's lifetime (how mustachian is that?).   You can't say the same for teflon.   

The only thing going for teflon is that it's easy.   My mom is a horrible cook and she loves teflon and hates my cast iron.   That's enough for me to stick with cast iron.   YMMV

dragoncar

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #45 on: January 21, 2014, 09:36:03 PM »

You have to cook the hell out of even olive oil to get it to the point that it oxidizes.  http://scienceornot.net/2012/09/15/is-it-safe-to-cook-with-olive-oil/.   I don't trust teflon for the same reason I don't trust most plastics.   15 years ago we didn't know anything about BPA or polyethylene and plastic seemed like a safer alternative to glass, now we know better.

Cast iron, glass, etc are old technologies that seem to have proven themselves as far as safety to humans is concerned.    Beyond that, cast iron excels at everything I put in it.    Lots of thermal mass means fantastic browning, great heat retention and no hot spots.    It's also dirt cheap and will last your great grand children's lifetime (how mustachian is that?).   You can't say the same for teflon.   

The only thing going for teflon is that it's easy.   My mom is a horrible cook and she loves teflon and hates my cast iron.   That's enough for me to stick with cast iron.   YMMV

Depends on the oil, I guess -- your link shows that olive oil is better than polyunsaturated.  But how many people season with extra virgin olive oil?  Also, any "browning" is basically filled with carcinogenic chemicals.

My point isn't that teflon is "healthy."  The healthiest thing is probably to boil food in stainless steel or glass/enamel.  I really wanted to like cast iron, but it's not living up to its reputation.  I like it for what it is: cheap and durable, not for the hype: nonstick, fast, and easy to care for.

Incidentally, if you don't care about food sticking, then I agree cast iron is easy to care for.  But to maintain the so-called non-stick properties, you have to do things like season it, preheat it, add a bunch of oil, cook the food, rinse/scrape/deglaze the pan, post-heat it, and re-oil it.

LowER

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #46 on: January 21, 2014, 10:24:26 PM »
"Clean" cast iron only with salt used as an abrasive or a stiff wire bristle brush followed by a paper towel.  No water and no soap.

For the best steaks EVER, heat the skillet(s) to 500 in the oven, salt the skillet (not the steak) and add the ROOM TEMPERATURE, peppered steak (ribeye works best) for 30 to 90 seconds each side.  For medium rare steaks that are about 1 inch think, try 30 seconds a side.  NO oil (trust me).  They will not stick.  Take steaks off and rest on a plate covered "tented" under tin foil for 12 minutes.  Place those steaks on a plate that was also in the oven at 500 and serve immediately.  We found a bunch of matching plates at Goodwill that are oven safe.  Each piece of steak can be micro-grilled on the plate if you wish.  Pouring a little butter melted with blue cheese and a tad chipotle adds some pizzazz.  We have done this steaks up to 1.75 inches thick - the butcher at any supermarket will double-take first and cut second.

We only eat steaks a couple times a year, but when we do, this is how we do it.

Google "cowboy steak" or "cast iron steak" and you will find many variations of the above.  When done right, your kitchen will serve some of the best steaks in your city that night, and they won't cost you $90 a piece.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 10:26:37 PM by LowER »

GuitarStv

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #47 on: January 22, 2014, 05:57:02 AM »
When done right, your kitchen will serve some of the best steaks in your city that night, and they won't cost you $90 a piece.

No matter how you cook a steak, unless it's been dry aged properly it'll never taste as good as a quality restaurant steak.

Spork

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #48 on: January 22, 2014, 07:16:20 AM »
When done right, your kitchen will serve some of the best steaks in your city that night, and they won't cost you $90 a piece.

No matter how you cook a steak, unless it's been dry aged properly it'll never taste as good as a quality restaurant steak.

I must be a non-tasting simpleton.  I've had a crapload of $50-100 quality restaurant steaks that didn't compare to home steaks.  Honestly, I'm cool with it.  I'm happy and it saves me money.

greaper007

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Re: Cast iron reseasoning
« Reply #49 on: January 22, 2014, 09:47:01 AM »

You have to cook the hell out of even olive oil to get it to the point that it oxidizes.  http://scienceornot.net/2012/09/15/is-it-safe-to-cook-with-olive-oil/.   I don't trust teflon for the same reason I don't trust most plastics.   15 years ago we didn't know anything about BPA or polyethylene and plastic seemed like a safer alternative to glass, now we know better.

Cast iron, glass, etc are old technologies that seem to have proven themselves as far as safety to humans is concerned.    Beyond that, cast iron excels at everything I put in it.    Lots of thermal mass means fantastic browning, great heat retention and no hot spots.    It's also dirt cheap and will last your great grand children's lifetime (how mustachian is that?).   You can't say the same for teflon.   

The only thing going for teflon is that it's easy.   My mom is a horrible cook and she loves teflon and hates my cast iron.   That's enough for me to stick with cast iron.   YMMV

Depends on the oil, I guess -- your link shows that olive oil is better than polyunsaturated.  But how many people season with extra virgin olive oil?  Also, any "browning" is basically filled with carcinogenic chemicals.

My point isn't that teflon is "healthy."  The healthiest thing is probably to boil food in stainless steel or glass/enamel.  I really wanted to like cast iron, but it's not living up to its reputation.  I like it for what it is: cheap and durable, not for the hype: nonstick, fast, and easy to care for.

Incidentally, if you don't care about food sticking, then I agree cast iron is easy to care for.  But to maintain the so-called non-stick properties, you have to do things like season it, preheat it, add a bunch of oil, cook the food, rinse/scrape/deglaze the pan, post-heat it, and re-oil it.

The maillard reaction is not carcinogenic, burning food is carcinogenic.   I used olive oil in the above link because it has a much lower smoke point than most of the oils people use to season their cast iron with.   I use canola oil, and a very light sheen of oil on a pan that's used often isn't really going to impart free radicals unless you heat it to the point that it's smoking.

Maybe I'm eccentric, but I've only used cast iron and stainless steel for about the last 8 years, and I cook every meal everyday for our family.    I do think there's a learning curve for cast iron and stainless, and you do have to use oil (or oil and butter in my case) to prevent food like eggs from sticking, but that doesn't really bother me.    I do realize there's a learning curve with cast iron but once you get on top of it, it's no more difficult than any other pan I've used.