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  • Cast Iron Remedial Help

    I've read the forums, I've checked on line... I can't seem to find an answer to some of my questions...

    1. Do you rinse the pan after each use? For example, I rendered bacon fat the other day in one of my pans. I figured I didn't want to rinse that fat off, so I scraped it with a metal spatula and used a cloth napkin to get the black bits out as best I could. I made eggs in it a day or so later and they were black on the bottom from the grit left in the pan.

    2. The center of my pan will NOT get nonstick. I don't know if the pan is ever so slightly convex and so the fat drains towards the edges but without fail things will stick in the middle. Not anywhere else, just the middle. This is even when I put in enough fat that I honestly think there is a layer covering the whole pan. I've tried seasoning it in the oven, I cook with it usually every other day with either rendered bacon fat or coconut oil... it just doesn't seem to get as nonstick as other people describe their cast iron cookware.

    3. Are there any brands of cast iron that are really smooth? I made eggs in a 100ish year old pan the other day at my in-laws and the cooking surface was completely smooth - unlike my Lodge skillets which have tiny little bumps like sandpaper. It seems like this kind of surface would help with the nonstick issue...?

    4. How much oil/fat do you need to use? I have one of the small skillets (6.5") and even 1 tbsp doesn't seem to be enough. My eggs stick with that. Without getting into the CICO argument, I'd prefer not to have an extra 200 calories of oil with each meal that I cook with the pan.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Originally posted by lorichka6 View Post
    I've read the forums, I've checked on line... I can't seem to find an answer to some of my questions...

    1. Do you rinse the pan after each use? For example, I rendered bacon fat the other day in one of my pans. I figured I didn't want to rinse that fat off, so I scraped it with a metal spatula and used a cloth napkin to get the black bits out as best I could. I made eggs in it a day or so later and they were black on the bottom from the grit left in the pan.
    No. If you can avoid rinsing the pan, don't rinse it. But if you have residue/debris that's going to burn and ruin your later meals, rinse it, then heat it up to get all the moisture out right afterwards.

    Originally posted by lorichka6 View Post
    2. The center of my pan will NOT get nonstick. I don't know if the pan is ever so slightly convex and so the fat drains towards the edges but without fail things will stick in the middle. Not anywhere else, just the middle. This is even when I put in enough fat that I honestly think there is a layer covering the whole pan. I've tried seasoning it in the oven, I cook with it usually every other day with either rendered bacon fat or coconut oil... it just doesn't seem to get as nonstick as other people describe their cast iron cookware.
    Are you using a metal spatula? You should be. Made a huge difference for me when I switched from plastic.

    Originally posted by lorichka6 View Post
    3. Are there any brands of cast iron that are really smooth? I made eggs in a 100ish year old pan the other day at my in-laws and the cooking surface was completely smooth - unlike my Lodge skillets which have tiny little bumps like sandpaper. It seems like this kind of surface would help with the nonstick issue...?
    Nowadays, not that I know of. The Lodge will get much smoother as you use it with your new metal spatula. They used to mill cast-iron pans but now they don't, they're cast, "pre-seasoned" (whatever that means) and shipped off to Wal-mart.


    Originally posted by lorichka6 View Post
    4. How much oil/fat do you need to use? I have one of the small skillets (6.5") and even 1 tbsp doesn't seem to be enough. My eggs stick with that. Without getting into the CICO argument, I'd prefer not to have an extra 200 calories of oil with each meal that I cook with the pan.

    Thanks
    If your pan had a flat surface and a good season, you'd need very little and could even get away with none. Your "little bumps" are causing all the problems, in my opinion.
    The Champagne of Beards

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    • #3
      Rinse it with just water if I need to? Or scrub it with metal? I have a stainless steel scrubber that I use with no soap - since usually the residue is burnt on.

      And yes, I only use a metal spatula on it. I'll start scraping it more...

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      • #4
        Originally posted by lorichka6 View Post
        Rinse it with just water if I need to? Or scrub it with metal? I have a stainless steel scrubber that I use with no soap - since usually the residue is burnt on.
        NEVER scrub it with a stainless steel scrubber! If you need something more abrasive to get stuff off, use coarse salt and the soft side of a dish sponge. This should only be an occasional occurence however. A cloth rag and some water should work 99% of the time.

        Originally posted by lorichka6 View Post
        And yes, I only use a metal spatula on it. I'll start scraping it more...
        Yeah, that should help smooth out the cooking surface.
        The Champagne of Beards

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        • #5
          Plastic bristled scrubbers are fine.

          I have a problematic pan with a messed up center. If I rinse it excessively, all of the seasoning comes off and I can see that the center has a build-up of carbon or rust and to really get rid of it and get down to a smooth metal surface, I'd need steel wool or sand paper. One of these days, I will scrub it with one of those things and re-season it with flax seed oil. You may need to do this too. I have another pan that, for whatever reason, has seasoned just fine with regular use and minimal cleaning.
          Depression Lies

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          • #6
            Thanks for the tips. I scraped it for a few minutes today. I'll try my eggs again tomorrow morning.

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            • #7
              I'm the oddball out. Quelle surprise! I scrub my pan with cheap table salt after any meal that requires scrubbing. Rub a little fat on it after washing and dry it on the stove. Think benign neglect. I've only had mine for a few months, but I can do tomatoes in it now without anything turning black or icky. I also bake in it (primal breads only, of course). Don't baby your cast iron - it will be useful on the planet long after you've passed.
              "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

              B*tch-lite

              Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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              • #8
                I have had similar problems regarding the non-stickness (??) of my Lodge skillet. As Rich said, they used to mill or sand down skillets prior to sale, which is why old skillets have that great smooth surface. I like my Lodge but I don't love it, even after following all the instructions regarding use, cleaning, and seasoning it still isn't as non-stick as I would like. I think my next step is to find some old used ones on Ebay. From what I have read Wagner or Griswold are the brands to look for in antique cast iron.

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                • #9
                  did you properly season the pan prior to use?

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                  • #10
                    No need to sand down your skillet to get a smooth surface unless it was uncared for for a long time (ie rusted heavy or pitted). Over time as you continue to season it as long as you don't continually remove the seasoning soapy water etc... it will build up to an almost glass like smoothness.

                    I have a Lodge dutch oven that I use for campfire cooking and it was rough to the touch at first after a season of camping and cooking with it it is now glass like smooth at the bottom and nothing sticks.

                    For the center of the pan it likely need re-seasoned then turn down the heat a little bit. Likely there was a hot spot their from temps too high and something you were cooking burned in the center, then stuff will continue to stick to it.

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                    • #11
                      It's taken me a while to get the hang of my cast iron too. I think there's a bit of a learning curve. Definitely not the easiest cookware to use, but I appreciate mine nonetheless.

                      To prevent sticking, heat your oil first, then add your ingredients. Don't put an egg into cold oil, for example. This will stick.

                      As soon as I'm done cooking I wipe out with kitchen roll (only rinsing in water if I have to) then put it straight back into the oven to dry out.

                      I store it in the oven between use to prevent rust.

                      When I BBQ I season again, knowing that I can put the pot on the hot coals and let it get REALLY frikken hot. Do that a couple of times, if you can, and your middle 'problem' should solve itself.

                      Lumpy, bumpy, 'sticky' surfaces. I've had them all. And rust! Not good... but once you get the hang of cleaning and seasoning and storing, you should get that smooth surface.

                      It's worth it, just keep at it!
                      SW: 68 kg. * CW: 61.5 kg. * GW: 60 kg or less...
                      “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” ~ Buddha

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                      • #12
                        This might be hard to believe, but Grandma used to toss all her cast iron pans into the fire when Grandpa burned the leaves every Autumn. They looked brand new after she reseasoned them. That's about all the cleaning they got except for a good wipe down with coarse salt and a flour sack.

                        The less you do to cast iron the better.

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                        • #13
                          I've got a Lodge and it works, all I use, but would be better if they sanded the cooking surface down smooth like the vintage pans.

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                          • #14
                            I scored a pan of unknown age at an antique store this weekend for $15. The handle is a little rusty but someone must have cleaned up the cooking surface since it was nicely oiled and rust-free. It is completely smooth. Looking forward to trying my eggs on it this morning!

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                            • #15
                              Old cast iron can be reclaimed so long as it's not too far gone. Sandblast, then season as if new. I have found some cool old pans in various junk stores and spiffed them up.

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