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Old 06-14-2006, 12:55 AM   #1
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A few cast-iron questions

Hey everyone, it's been a while since i've been here and I've built up a few questions.

First of all, I bought a cast-iron skillet and was told to season it by rubbing it down with vegetable oil then cooking it at 200 degrees for 2 hours, three times. I did that, but the pan was still somewhat wet with the oil when I got it out the first two times, so the last time I put it on 250 or 300 and it came out dry (which I assumed indicated that the oil had baked in - the whole point of seasoning, right?). I wasn't sure if it was ready or not but I really wanted to try it out so I threw an egg on w/ butter and let it cook for a while. Around the egg brown formed (rust, I think) so I took it out and finished it in a non-stick skillet. I washed up the pan and as it dried the entire inside rusted, so scrubbed it for a while and got some out, but I have no idea if I'm getting all of it. I'm assuming I'm going to have to clean it up and re-season, but I don't know how to fully clean it. I would really like to know why this pan rusted. Even if it wasn't fully seasoned I can't believe it rusted like that; it just doesn't make any sense.

Second of all I bought a Le Creuset 2 quart dutch oven in really good shape, off of ebay. I decided to cook some chili to break it in. The chili recipe said to cook the onions on high heat, so I turned the knob to high. I did this as I prepared the ingredients, so that it would be at high heat once I started cooking. I put some water in it and it almost instantly evaporated, so I put it on another burner and noticed red enamel on the burner. I looked at it later and some of enamel melted off and it bubbled some of the surrounding enamel. It also bubbled some of the enamel on the inside of hte pot right above the part that got stripped.

I've cooked a few more soups with it and it seems to be working fine, but is it ok? Should I not use my le crueset on high heat? was it because I didn't have anything in it? Where did I go wrong? Thanks a ton!

brad

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Old 06-14-2006, 01:45 AM   #2
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Hey Brad,

First off, you're trying to season too cold. You want your oven at about 350. And use shortening, not vegetable oil. Pretty much the only time you want to wash it is when it is new, to get the wax off it. To do this, soak it in hot, soapy water for a few minutes, then rinse it in hot water, wipe it off and let it air-dry.

Then, put a sheet pan on a lower rack in your pre-heated 350 degree oven to catch drips. Put the skillet on the middle rack, above the sheet pan, with a tablespoon or so of shortening in it. When the shortening melts, pull the skillet out and rub the shortening all over it, including the handle.

Now, and this is the biggie, put it back in the oven over the sheet pan upside-down. This way any excess shortening will run out and onto the sheet pan. Excess shortening during a cure is bad news, as it forms a plastic-like substance wherever it pools.

Leave the oven on for an hour or so, then turn it off, and leave the pan inside to cool.

When it is cool to the touch, pull it out, wipe it down, and put it away.

To clean it after that, just deglaze it, (if necessary) add some oil (if necessary) and some salt, scrub it with a paper towel, wipe off the excess with another paper towel, and put it away. Don't wash it!

Cast iron skillets are wonderful items if cared for properly, and are about the only thing in which to make fried chicken!

Kelly
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Old 06-14-2006, 08:59 AM   #3
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Kelly gave you some great instructions on how to season your pan. One thing I would add is to season the outside too (bottom of the pan and all). You basically want the fat to get into every pore inside and out.

You say you washed the pan and as it dried it rusted. I take this to mean that you let it air dry. That is a big no no. Once you are done using your pan, wash it in hot water (no soap) and just wipe it out with a paper towel. Do not be alarmed if the paper towel turns black. That will go away after you use the pan for a while. Once you have washed it out you need to dry it immediately and completely. You can do this with a rag, or what a lot of people do is put the pan on a burner on the stove to dry. You need to make sure all the moisture is gone as soon as you can. Once it is dry pour a little oil into the pan and use a paper towel to wipe it around the entire inside surface. Just a little oil will do, maybe a drop about the size of a dime or nickle at most. Store your pan somewhere where there is airflow if possible.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:54 AM   #4
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Amazing, I have a cast iron pan which I gave up on because I was given similar instructions that Brad was given. After a couple of disasters I couldn't see what all the fuss was about, its in storage now but I am going into my container in a couple of weeks, so I'll get it out and see what I can do. Thanks Brad, you aired a question which has really enlightened me!
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:33 AM   #5
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It is really strange about Le Creuset. Melting enamel. How long did you keep it on the stove? It must have gotten so-so hot... Very strange.
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Old 06-14-2006, 11:13 AM   #6
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From the Le Creuset web site:

Because of the heat retaining properties of cast iron, Le Creuset products do not require high heats at any time-use medium to low heat settings to maintain ideal cooking temperatures. High heats and subsequent overheating will permanently damage the surface.

As a guide, on a gas stovetop, you can see the volume of heat by the size of the flame. A HIGH heat will produce a flame that extends to the edge of the product base. On a MEDIUM heat, the flame should extend to no more than half way across the base. On a LOW heat, the flame should just cover the central area. Very often there are indicators on the control knobs showing where the settings are for HIGH, MEDIUM and LOW.

Le Creuset cast iron is suitable for all heat sources and is tested and approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute for use on glass-topped stovetops. However, owing to the natural weight of cast iron, it is advisable to lift the cookware on and off the burner instead of sliding them across the surface. Care should also be taken not to bang the cast iron down on the ceramic surface.

Most importantly, use MEDIUM and LOW heat for best cooking results. This will minimize the risk of food sticking in the pan. Use high heat only for boiling water or water based cooking. For other cooking, heat pan slowly using a medium heat, then reduce to low.
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Old 06-14-2006, 11:34 AM   #7
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Brad, you didn't say, was it a brand new skillet or a used one? Brand new cast iron has a protective coating on it that will need to be removed first by washing really well with hot water and soap. If you don't get it removed, you will have trouble applying the seasoning. From what you described, it sounds like it wasn't seasoned properly. Cast iron manufacturers recommend seasoning at 350°F for at least an hour (although many people prefer seasoning at a higher temp of 425-450°F, myself included). If it were me, I would just wash and dry it thoroughly, then go through the correct seasoning process again. (I like to season new cast iron at least twice before using.) Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
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Old 06-14-2006, 02:18 PM   #8
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Ahh, I should have known to double check what that guy told me. Oh well I'll just re-do it now that I have the correct info - Thanks a ton, I'll probably get started on that later today. Btw it was new, so I suppose there was that protective coating.

Charlie - I probably had it on the stove for 5-10 minutes while I chopped up some veggies. It was definitely very hot; Like I mentioned, I threw some water in it and the water basically evaporated instantly, which made me realize it was too hot...I wish I had read that Le Creuset info, jennyema, before I had used it. Yeah the enamel definitely melted....there is now red Le Creuset enamel stuck on our burner

Do you guys think it'll basically be ok, though? I realize that it probably won't cook the same in that area, but I just hope I didn't nearly ruin it...IMO starting out cooking with no previous knowledge is a nightmare.

brad
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Old 06-14-2006, 02:21 PM   #9
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Depends on how much of that enamal melted away, but I don't think it would be a problem.
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Old 06-14-2006, 03:54 PM   #10
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Brad, if the enamel loss was only on the outide, the cooking ability will not be effected. The exterior enamel is there to prevent the raw cast iron from rusting and to look pretty and be easy to clean and care for.

As long as the interior enamel is intact, it will cook normally.
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