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  #1  
Old 12-08-2010, 12:04 PM
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Cast Iron


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Do any of you use Cast Iron cook ware? I have a 10 inch cast iron skillet that I love to cook with. I am not a big fan of non-stick frying pans. Anytime I go camping / hunting camp I always bring this skillet. However I have never seamed to get the skillet to season up. I am always batteling with the stick. How do you care for your prized skillets?
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  #2  
Old 12-08-2010, 12:52 PM
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lets assume it is good & clean first

wipe the inside with veggi oil, don't use the spray stuff like "Pam"
bake in 350* oven about 1/2 hour
let cool
wipe clean with paper towel
repeat 3 or 4 times

after it is seasoned this way try not to wash with soap, brillo, etc.
the soap will pull the oils out of the pores in the cast iron and you will have to start over with the seasoning job.
Clean with water and a Chore Boy for the stuck on food.
..
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  #3  
Old 12-08-2010, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twodot View Post
lets assume it is good & clean first

wipe the inside with veggi oil, don't use the spray stuff like "Pam"
bake in 350* oven about 1/2 hour
let cool
wipe clean with paper towel
repeat 3 or 4 times

after it is seasoned this way try not to wash with soap, brillo, etc.
the soap will pull the oils out of the pores in the cast iron and you will have to start over with the seasoning job.
Clean with water and a Chore Boy for the stuck on food.
..

+1
That's the only way to use and season it.

I have my grandmothers' skillets, which most likely date to the depression era or earlier.
You can tell the difference in them between the oldies and such like the 'Lodge house" pots and pans.


The new stuff is good, but the hand-downs from my family are just the best to cook with.
We have a depression era dutch oven that we use for stews, chili, and even apple cobbler. They just cook great.
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  #4  
Old 12-08-2010, 04:43 PM
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I think lard works better than vegetable oil. I believe lard is on the "not good for you list" right now though? So go ahead with whatever is considered "safe" for the moment.

Fill the skillet as deep as you as you can handle and put the lid on. Heat on the stove until it "smokes". (Be real careful about now because you are real close to having a major FIRE and are dealing with VERY HOT WHATEVER!!!

Drain safely and wipe down with a clean cloth.

That skillet should never see anything more than hot water and a cloth for cleaning. Soap is NOT an option, unless you want to start over.
Boil water in it if you see the need.

If your worried about germs and bacteria because of lack of soap in the cleaning process, just preheat it before adding food!

Any wisdom in this post is courtesy of Grandma Ivy. Her skillet never left the stovetop for any reason other than serving.

Personal stuff: I still use two seasoned cast iron pans for any outdoor cooking that I get to do. My good wife will have nothing to do with them due to the weight and the fact that she does not like to leave pots on stove in "her kitchen".
Anything cooked in lard on a cast skillet is good!

Cheezywan


Be real carefull with hot oil of any kind around a flame or skin. I sure don't want anyone to get burned!!!

Last edited by Cheezywan; 12-08-2010 at 04:46 PM. Reason: Fire safety
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  #5  
Old 12-09-2010, 05:23 PM
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Thumbs up

Try this if you have a hard time cleaning Ironware, while the pan is still very hot dump in a bunch of ice cubes. The melting ice helps clean the pan. Works for me .Q
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  #6  
Old 12-10-2010, 06:59 PM
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when cooking, in addition to oil, place your seasonings [salt & pepper, etc.] under the food, it helps prevent foods from sticking.
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  #7  
Old 12-13-2010, 04:19 PM
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And use plenty of oil / lard . Dont be stingy.
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  #8  
Old 12-13-2010, 08:50 PM
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I love to cook with cast iron. I probably have a dozen different size skillets, five different size dutch ovens, several griddles, a couple of kettles and a wok, all cast iron. To me cast iron just makes food taste better. It holds heat more uniformly without hot spots.
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  #9  
Old 12-13-2010, 08:58 PM
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You got good advice on seasoning it, not much to add there, really. When i clean my cast iron skillets i like to scrape everything out first, put veg oil in it and let it heat up on the burner for a minute or too, then pour the oil out, and wipe clean with a paper towel. I would never clean it out with even water, it also helps kinda season it cleaning it that way. Cast iron is something that should never need to be replaced, and can be handed down forever. The non stick crap is crap.

If i am backpacking in, i will usually bring something light and cheap, cast iron is just soo heavy lol. If it was gonna be a week+ trip, id deal with the weight.
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  #10  
Old 01-01-2011, 07:11 PM
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"And use plenty of oil / lard . Dont be stingy."

I hope you mean while you are cooking and not while seasoning. I've got a LOT of cast iron pots and pans that I've used for years and have tried about everything I've heard from all sorts of sources. Some worked great, some didn't. I just posted a thread on another forum about this and have pic's and a short video. Well heck, I'll see if I can cut and paste it here.
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  #11  
Old 01-01-2011, 07:14 PM
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Okay, here it is:

************************************************** ***************

Okay....

I go to quite a few different forums for hunting and shooting and several have cooking subforums. Many times in the past there have been people asking about how to season, use or care for cast iron cookware. I've posted on several threads where people are asking what to do. I've also heard a lot of things that I consider to be downright wrong. So, in the interest of sharing my own experiences over about 20 years of using all manner of cast iron cookware I decided to make a post about how I season and what I use to do it.

The short version of what I usually say when asked is that the best way to strip and restore an old pan is to run it through a self clean cycle in your oven. All stuck on crud short of outright rust will turn to ash and brush right off. Then there are usually some basic comments on how to season and care for the stuff afterwords. This thread will be mostly about how to reseason a pan after it has been properly stripped. Or, if it is brand new and has never been seasoned. By the way, on brand new stuff, the first thing I do is get out my orbital sander and sand the dogsnot out of the inside to make is nice and smooth. Virtually all the cast iron made today is sold "as cast" so the texture of the sand mold shows not only on the outside but on the inside too. That's one reason I prefer to buy antique cast iron and restore it. Look at an old Wagner or Griswold pan and then look at the new stuff and you will find that there is no comparison. The old time stuff was milled smooth inside and does not show the casting sand texture like new stuff does. The fact that you can get lucky at yard sales and antique stores and find old, good quality cast iron for a fraction of the price of the new stuff is also a bonus. However, be prepared for some wicked high prices from antique dealers who have done research and think their cast item is a family heirloom from Abe Lincoln's kitchen or something. Some of it gets priced way to high. Dang collectors ruin it for the rest of us... But anyway, back to the subject of seasoning.

A while back I noticed that one of our favorite pans was getting a little crusty on the outside and wanted to clean it up and start over again. Instead of doing the oven self clean, I decided to get more primitive and throw it in a fire to burn clean. This particular pan started it's life with us in just that way... We'd gone camping and realized that we forgot to bring a frying pan. There was an antique store up the road a ways and we stopped in and found a square cast iron pan that would fit perfect on my Coleman stove. For about $5, it became ours. It was kinda scabbed up on the outside so that night I threw it in the campfire which was mostly hedge wood and let it burn clean and in the morning, we fried up some bacon to season it and never looked back. Fast forward about ten years... The pan had served us well and was a house favorite but it was getting a little "scabby" on the outside from years of use and little dribbles running down the side that went unnoticed and unwiped. It was time for and good stripping and reseasoning. I thought instead of the self clean thing, I'd stick with the rebirth by fire theme and throw it into the BBQ grill that had a good charcoal and hardwood fire going. Well, it cleaned it okay but not like a hedge fire. I remember using a stick to fish the pan out of the hedge fire after it had been in the coals for about an hour and it was glowing red! This time, when I did it in the grill, I screwed up and forgot about it being in the grill since it got late and I went to bed. I remembered and took it out two days later after it had rained and rust had started to form on it.. Really ticked me off! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! It's been sitting around waiting for a "fix up job" ever since. Speaking of which, think about this... Have you ever heard of anyone FIXING a teflon pan? Heck no! They spend all kinds of money on them. Some are cheap wally world specials and others are fancy shmancy stuff that are supposed to be "professional" grade and it seems to me that they all wear out at about the same rate. Some last a little better but whether they're cheapo's or expensive, your are limited to plastic and wood utensils. With cast iron you can use almost anything you want without harming the pan. If, after years of use, the pan is getting a little yucky, just burn it clean and start over like it's a brand new pan! Anyway, back to the topic...

Today, I took it to work and used our glass bead blaster to clean it up. WOW!!! It looked like it just came out of the casting sand! Took a while but boy did it ever do the job. I left it "dry and dusty" as I knew that if I washed it, rust would start to form in minutes. When I got home, I decided to go ahead and wash it, dry it on the stove and season it. I had it hot on the stove and added a dab of lard, spread it around and thought, "I should get the camera and take some pics of this process since so many people are always asking about it. I ran upstairs and grabbed the camera and came back to the kitchen. Total time maybe a minute after I'd put the lard in and wiped it around to cover the entire pan.

Here is the picture. It's already starting to brown a little but note how silver the rest of it is. The sand blaster really took it down to the bare metal.

p.s. Please ignore the little bit of spilled stuff in the bottom of the stove. My wife does day care, we have three kids of our own, I'm a rather big fella and we USE our stove. She usually has it all clean before bed time but sometimes on the weekend she lets it slide till the next morning. She'd be pretty P.O'd if she knew I posted pics of her stove looking like this...



Now, a lot of folks will tell you the best way is to season in the oven at about 350 degrees. I've done it and it works pretty good. However, I think doing it on the stovetop is a little faster and gives you better control. When it's in the oven, usually you just wipe it down, stick it in and walk away. Pretty easy for sure.

But when I do it on the stove top, I can control the amount of lard, wipe things around to sort of "smooth" the oils as it seasons and freshen it up if needed. It doesn't get the sides of the pan quite as well but you can do the bottom nicely and the rest will come with time or you can stick it in the oven after doing the stovetop method if you want and it will even things out a bit.

There is a lot of varied opinion about what is the best lube to season a pan with but personally, I feel nothing is better than lard. Especially for the initial seasoning. I've tried crisco, vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, olive oil etc. etc. etc. They all work to varying degrees but for consistent results and more importantly hardness and durability, I feel lard is the best there is. In my experience, all the other oils and shortenings tend to leave a slightly gummy residue that is not quite as durable as lard. This a traditional cooking utensil used by virtually ALL of our grandparents who were all about doing what works best. Lets at least try the traditional methods first eh? Right about now is the part where someone usually jumps in and claims lard will go rancid in the pan, therefore you should use olive oil or some other oil instead. Well, all I can say is that I've been using cast iron most of my life and have never had a pan go rancid on me. I thought maybe it was because my pans usually don't sit in storage long enough for the lard to turn bad but in recent years I've had pans that sat on a shelf in the basement for a couple years until I needed them and they were just fine. I've come to the conclusion that if there is a problem with going rancid, it's a problem of not properly wiping the pans down after cleaning. We all know that you're not supposed to use soap and water on cast iron. That's a pretty good general rule but not hard and fast. At least not in our house. I usually use hot water if I cook something that leaves a lot of residue. Especially if it sticks a bit. A little bit of soap and water on a well seasoned pan (I'm talking years of use) won't hurt it much if at all. If I have to go that route, I usually dry the pan on the stove and add a dab of lard and wipe it around in a thin layer and let it set on medium heat until it appears to start to dry up and then just give it another wipe with a dry paper towel and put it away.

But I'm getting off topic or at least out of sequence. Our pan has been sitting patiently on the stove taking on a golden brown hue. Here is my little brick of lard that I feel is so important.



About five minutes after the first wipe down with lard, this is how the pan looks.



I've used the same paper towel I initially spread the melted lard with to sort of "refresh" the light layer of oil several times already. It's been soaking into the paper towel so when I wipe, not much goes onto the pan but it's enough to just give it a shine and change the color to a "wet look".

After another couple minutes, I decide to add another dab of lard to the pan. Might be a good time to take a pic to show how much or how little I actually use. It's not very much really. After it melts, it's just enough that a wadded up paper towel can sop up the excess from inside the pan and I can wipe down the outside and give it a little shine.



Another 3 or 4 minutes and I've set off the smoke alarm.... Ooops! Anyway, it looks like this now.



You will notice that there is a circular pattern inside the pan. That's because of the shape of the burner flame. It's the one advantage to using the oven. If you don't like the looks of a stove top seasoned pan use the oven. But honestly, after a few more uses, it will all even out and turn black. I still opt for the stove top method because I like the control of being able to look for little droplets forming on the surface and wiping them away before they harden into bumps like they would if left unattended. If you really want it to look even right away, after you do the stove top thing, toss it in the oven upside down at about 350 degrees for an hour or so. Or just live with it until it evens out by itself from normal stove top use.

Now, I'm not sure if this link will work or not but I went ahead and fried an egg in this pan on video. Remember, 15 minutes ago, this pan had a freshly sand blasted finish with ZERO seasoning. I'll let YOU be the judge as to whether it works or not. By the way, since the video camera does not have a flash, the pan looks a lot darker than it did in the pictures but it's the same pan.

http://s2.photobucket.com/albums/y43...asoning008.mp4
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  #12  
Old 01-02-2011, 05:02 AM
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Good write up Dave, thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-02-2011, 05:03 AM
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I'm going to make this thread a STICKY in the recipe forum
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:32 AM
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Yup. Very well done. Makes me hungery just looking at it.

Cheezywan
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  #15  
Old 02-17-2011, 04:50 AM
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The most important thing with cast Iron is not to wash them with soap. Just heat the pan a bit add water for a few minutes dump the water and wipe it out. If you have a stubborn piece of whatever in it, just let it be. It'll burn and cook off adding to the seasoning of it. And heat the pan well before you cook with it to kill the germs. Make sure the edges at the top get hot from a medium to medium-high heat (with oil/butter or whatever in it) before you add food to it. The food will stick less in a hot pan. Plus, have patience before you flip your meat in it. If the meat sticks (lightly tug at it with a spatula) let it stay longer. Eventually when it"s "ready" it won't stick anymore.

Eventually the pan will season itself better over time and it'll be as nonstick as the best nonstick pans on the market. Except food tastes better in a cast pan. I don't know why, but it does.

Basically a seasoned pan is coated with carbon (think graphite lube). So it'll get to the point to which you'll want to even be easy with it wit a a metal spatula just like a non-stick pan because you won't want to scrape off your coating.

A bit off topic. If you have a metal spatula sharpen the edge and you can just chunk stuff into the pans and cut it with the spatula as you cook. Beats screwing around with having all kinds of cutting boards and knives to clean up afterwards.

Last edited by GMFWoodchuck; 02-17-2011 at 04:57 AM.
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:05 AM
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On the occasion I have something that sticks, I use an abrasive pad to get it off with water. The next use with sufficient oil or whatever will re season any small area of exposed metal. The original seasoning was done in the oven with Crisco.
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  #17  
Old 04-03-2012, 03:42 PM
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I have three sizes of cast iron pans and prefer to use them for cooking. Mine lose their seasoning after cooking wetter stuff like tomato sauce or certain stews in them. I use water to clean a very hot pan, sometimes using one of those mesh pads to scour out the corners.

The more you use it the better it is seasoned. If it starts sticking, I use the method we used to season our grills in the Navy. Throw a couple of eggs in the hot pan, shell and all, and smash them around until they cover the pan and stick and burn to the bottom. Then scrape the pan with a metal spatula and clean with water. Helps for a quick re-seasoning but not an initial seasoning. (For fun, we would wait until someone ordered their eggs, and then season the grill. Funny to watch their expression when the eggs with shells were thrown on there).
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:57 AM
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I have quite a few cast pans and even a few skillets for making pancakes. I guess I go against the grain because when you have stuff stuck to it I use liquid to get it off. Most often depending upon what I am making I might add a bit of wine to deglaze the bottom and let it make a sort of gravy that has all those flavors in there. If it is really clean I will just rinse it off to clean it but usually I use a nylon scouring pad to take the high spots down. Then I toss it on the stove to heat it up with just a bit of oil in it. I wipe the oil around with a paper towel and turn the stove off just as it starts to smoke. When I first get it, I just season it on the stove and do coat after coat of oil spread with a towel and move it around so the hot spot is in the area I am working on. Better to do outside as you get a good bit of smoke but you end up with a pan that is totally black. I also keep a few of them in my oven. I do not use the over all that often but when I do they usually just stay in there, I figure it is building up the carbon even more.

As far as sticking goes, the only think I will not make in them is eggs but I think that you need to cook like you do with a stainless pan. You do not cook at as high a temperature and you let your items cook a bit longer until they sear and will come off easily. If your meat sticks you probably moved it too quickly and possibly are cooking too hot like many of us have become accustomed to with those non stick pans.

I do all of this with my wok as well and do not get rust and always have that nice black coating on that as well. I guess in a sense I am re-seasoning it every time I use it but it seems that these pans get better as they age and are used more. When I do use soap I am not scrubbing but just a quick go around. Makes me feel better about how clean it is although I guess it adds a bit of work by heating and wiping with oil every time I use it.

It still amazes me how this old technology is every bit as good as the non stick pans with the added benefit of lasting forever and in my view getting better over time. They also stand up to just about any utensil. Sunny side eggs still go in the non stick which is about the only thing I use them for.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:39 PM
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I still use cast iron skillets and dutch ovens when camping. Wife got tired of the weight from them in the house.

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Old 07-14-2012, 07:33 AM
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I only use cast Iron cookware. My new wife has the more modern junk. SHe is slowly switching over.

The way I season it is: Put a thin layer of salt and cooking oil in the pan, rub it on the sides bake at 200+ for a period of time. When the pan appears 'dry' it is pretty close to seasoned. When I clean the cast iron, I don't scrub and soak with a lot of strong cleaners. I wash in hot water and use soap sparingly. It something is sticking to the pan I'll scrape with flat spatula. I find that adding hot water to a hot pan will almost always lift out anything sticky. Having said that I don't very often get something sticky in the pan.
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