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Thread: Cast Iron Cookware - Seasoning Advice

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    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Cast Iron Cookware - Seasoning Advice

    I recently learned to love my Lodge cast iron skillet. It's been a rocky start, though, and I'm still not clear about the right way to season the pan.

    Oh sure, it claimed to be pre-seasoned. That was not exactly a true story. It's taken many pounds of bacon and hamburger to get to where we are now, and the pan isn't smooth inside. I'm not sure if it ever will be, which makes me wonder if I'm seasoning it incorrectly. There are lots of different directions on the internet and I've been following what are probably the laziest recommendations: rinse with warm water after cooking, dry, coat lightly with oil, pop it in a hot oven for a while. I scrub with a little salt if I need to scrape crud off the pan or if it is allowed to cool accidentally before washing.

    I recently read about seasoning cast iron with flaxseed oil and long times in the oven at high heat. Has anyone tried that method? Is it really all that and a bag of chips?

    In other news, I acquired two enameled cast iron pans over the holiday and I heart them with all my heart. I think I need a third in a smaller size, and a larger unenameled skillet (seasoned properly!). Then I'm going to kick the rest of my pots and pans to the curb. Not really...but you know what I mean.
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    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    Funny! I also just got a pre seasoned Lodge cast iron skillet. I'm obsessed with it! I haven't had issues, but I've only done veggies in it so far. I never knew a pot could cook food so evenly. After I got it, I read some reviews on Amazon for the 12" skillet and one or two had really good seasoning advice. Look for the most helpful reviews.
    For now I'm just scrubbing mine, drying it, and coating it with a little oil. So far so good!

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    Flaxseed oil (I think) has a very low smoke point compared to other oils. I wouldn't use it to cook anything at high temp or to season a pan at high temp. But speaking of high temp, I've never seasoned a pan at high temp. It's low and slow all the way with just the slightest amount of oil. I use a more stable cooking oil like peanut or grape seed oil. Season at too high of a temp you can burn the oil and there can be a "crusty" black build up on the pan. Once that happens, I'd scrub the pan totally (I've even put the pan in the oven during the cleaning cycle) and start all over again with the seasoning process once the pan is cleaned completely. It sounds like the lack of smoothness in the bottom of your pan is some sort of "crusty" build up that needs to be removed totally before the pan can be seasoned properly. If there's the slightest amount of "crusty" crud in the bottom, more crud will stick to that crud every time you use the pan and you'll be stuck in a never ending cycle of "crusty" crud.
    Last edited by WMW40; 02-08-2014 at 10:02 AM.

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    Registered User flaneuse's Avatar
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    IME cast iron is pretty low maintaince. Personally, I think the best oil to season it with is bacon grease, at a low temp (like 200F). I have 3 CI skillets--a very old 6", a lodge 12" and a 50 year old 14" crepe skillet (a hand-me-down from my Mother). Eventually they all do get burnt oil built up which needs to be scraped off. After that I just oil them up with either bacon or canola oil, and put them in the oven for a while at 200F. I've only had to do this about 2x in the 13 years I've owned them.

    After cooking most foods with them I just scrape out the food bits and put back on their shelf. If I've used them to cook marinated meats and there is liquid left in the skillet I pour it out and give it a quick rinse.

    Enameled cookware is fantastic! I have a few Le Creuset and Staub pieces that I love.

    I do about 40% of my cooking in All Clad, 40% in cast iron, and 20% in the enameled cast iron.
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    Is it a new pan? If so, the iron is likely coated, and you will need to remove the coating with steel wool. I cook with my old cast iron almost every day. It is worth the persistence to get it seasoned. It is a healthier alternative over aluminum and delivers more even heat that stainless steel.

    To clean my pans, I usually wash them by hand with soap and water (yes, some people don't do that, but I have found that it works fine and I feel less worried about any food-born illnesses with my children). After washing it, I don't dry it, but instead up it on my gas range to dry. Every so often I put a little corn oil into it to keep it well seasoned after it's dried and is still hot.

    Occasionally I will just rinse it and scrub it well with salt, but I don't do that often.

    I've been cooking with cast iron for more than a decade now. I love how the food turns out!

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    Don't use soap. It removes the oil you're trying to season into the skillet. Best way to keep it seasoned is to use as little scrubbing and water as possible after each use. Wipe it with a damp towel or paper towel while it is still warm (not hot enough to burn your hand!). If it looks dry, put a little peanut, veggie or canola oil on a paper towel and wipe it into the still warm skillet. You don't really need to make much effort to season the skillet unless you're having things stick. And the easiest way to deal with that is with a touch of oil, butter, or bacon grease before cooking.

    It really shouldn't take effort. If you're putting effort into, you're probably undoing the progress you're making somehow

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    Registered User Moose's Avatar
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    Hi Janine, I have a love-hate relationship going with my cast iron. I have a 5 quart Dutch oven that I love. I'd give anything to have a skillet I could cook edge in. They always end up a sticky mess. Lodge has seasoning instructions on their web site. I followed them with my Dutch oven and its worked out well for me.
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    I adore my cast iron, and cook with it every day. I use coconut oil and bacon fat as my main oils, and they have created the most amazing seasoning.

    I rely on steel wool and hot water for cleaning, and it almost always does the trick. I throw in some sea salt for extra scrubbing power if needed, but this is rare.
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    Registered User bltkmt's Avatar
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    Another cast iron lover here...mine is not what I would call smooth either, but that does not bother me. I don't use soap to clean, but did just get one of these (Amazon.com: Chain Mail Cast Iron Pan Scrubber: Kitchen & Dining) which have great reviews, to scrape out excess gunk. I dry it on a gas burner like above, and then spray with a little bit of canola oil.

    Once, when it was especially nasty, I boiled water in it for a while and then scrubbed it as best I could. I coated it a few times in canola oil to get the seasoning back.
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    Registered User snowbot's Avatar
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    Janine, as far as I can tell, the new Lodge pans just aren't smooth. I have a newish Lodge frypan that I have been babying. It's been worth the effort. My spouse made a frittata in it the other night and nothing really stuck to the bottom. The sides however, weren't as well-seasoned. Quite a bit of scrubbing with really hot water and plastic bristled brush was necessary. Now I'm making sure to grease the sides after washing the pan, as well as the bottom.

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    Registered User snowbot's Avatar
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    A chain mail cast iron pot scrubber? Really? And then I read the reviews bltkmt linked to. Now I must have one.

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    Ugh, another something I must have. I do like the idea of a stainless scrubber. I always wonder if I've gotten my nylon ones clean enough.
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    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    You guys have such great advice! Thank you!

    Here's a link to the flaxseed oil seasoning instructions. I think I'm going to give it a try if I can find flaxseed oil somewhere local. I want my pan to look like hers. Doesn't that smooth surface scream "Cook eggs in me!"?
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    Registered User dorayme's Avatar
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    My cast iron was a wedding gift. It's all le creuset enameled except for the grilling pan. I'm going to find some flaxseed oil and try this on the grilling pan. Thanks for posting
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorayme View Post
    My cast iron was a wedding gift. It's all le creuset enameled except for the grilling pan. I'm going to find some flaxseed oil and try this on the grilling pan. Thanks for posting
    I have a fair amount of Le Creuset as well, but it is all coated cast iron if it's exposed (I also have the grilling pan), so I don't think you would get optimal results from it. You would need to remove the coating, which I don't know that I would recommend either on such an expensive pan.

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