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Old 09-01-2007, 10:34 AM   #1
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Cast Iron Care, advanced question...

I get that you are not supposed to wash cast iron with soap. You should wipe it out while it is still hot, and if there is stubborn food residue in it you should dump some salt into it and then sorta scrub it out with the salt acting as the abrasive.
Last night in the grill pan I attempted to grill a lamb chop with jerk seasoning and in 2 pans (first was to small) I attempted to fry some okra with peppers and onions and garlic in a mixture of oil and butter.
I know sounds disgusting, but it was edible. Wound up stewing the okra, I forgot how much liquid they give off.

I made sure to scrape all of the residue from between the grill lines while the pan was still hot. I've learned that lesson.

My question is this. There is an oily peppery oniony mess in the bottom of both regular pans, and a oily seasoning-y mess in the bottom of the grill pan. Am I just to wipe these out well, with or without water, I did it under running water and then heat them on the stove until dry?

Wont the oil/butter go rancid? I guess the point is to let the seasonings build up , but wont they clash with each other and make something taste bad? I have an use all of lesly elizabeth's seasonings. Make's life easy for a non cook such as myself.

Last question, My mom had a cast iron pan that had stuff caked up on it so thick that when she decided to clean it we had to chisel it. Should we have left it? Is the pan essentially supposed to get thicker and I mean significantly thicker from food build up over time?

Last question for real, I also have the cast iron wok, the double griddle and the pizza pan. All of these i should not wash, but just wipe off well when hot? I use the double griddle in the oven to do bacon, recently I have taken to covering it with aluminum foil so that the bacon fat dosent build up on the pan and then I dont have to think about the bacon fat going rancid... but is wiping it enough? And the wok, I tend to put egg in my stir fry, which then tends to stick to the bottom of the pan along with seasonings and meat bits. I would think you would want to get the egg out at least?

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Old 09-01-2007, 11:29 AM   #2
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for the first question, the answer is bifold.

the first thing you should do is choose the right pan for the right job. when i got my first cast iron grill pan, i made the same mistakes as using it like a regular cast iron fry pan. the raised ridges are there for a few reasons. primarily, to make marks on the meat as it cooks, but also to allow some moisture and fat to burn off, instead of being in contact with the entire surface area of the meat.
next time, use 2 pans. one cast iron grill pan for the meat, which may be deglazed and added to a second cast iron fry pan for the other stuff that's pan fried. combine ingerdients, if necessary, in the cast iron fry pan.

the second answer, for the cleaning, lies in the beauty of cast iron. no matter how bad the damage, you can always scrub or scrape or sand right down to the metal, then re-season.
you can try to burn off as much as possible (on high flame. watch out; it'll smoke), then scrub with an abrasive to try to remove the yuk. but you'll probably end up disturbing the seasoning.
i often put some water in my pan and let it come to a rolling boil, then let it sit for a while, to try to soften any junk, before scrubbing.
if it comes to it, i'll end up using steel wool, especially on grill pan ridges.

if the yuk is bad enough, you just have to get tough, scrub or sand it out, then re-season.
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Old 09-01-2007, 11:54 AM   #3
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thanks for the advice... for the record there where 3 cast iron pans involved in dinner last night. A 8" I believe grill pan which had the lamb... a 6" fry pan and then I guess it's a 10" saute pan, (rounded sides). I didn't so much burn stuff in the pan. Just the normal whats left after you have gotten out, everything that's worth the effort of getting out stuff, and then you go eat, sit, watch tv, listen to wife and now you have pans to clean up.
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Old 09-01-2007, 11:56 AM   #4
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I clean cast iron using the simplest, easiest, method I can to get it clean. Sometimes, this requires just a simple wipe out, (cornbread pan) Other times it's hot water, soap, and a brillo pad with the objective to get it clean. Long term, you really can't hurt the stuff. So clean away.



Enjoy!
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Old 09-01-2007, 11:58 AM   #5
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Ditto everything BuckyTom said. Especially about picking the right pan for the job.

The seasoning you’re looking for is basically a layer of oil and grease absorbed into the pores of the metal. It’s a slick, black, smooth layer that protects the cast iron from rust and makes it non-stick The seasoning is only layer upon layer of cooked oil and fats, but there shouldn’t be any pieces of food left. The seasoning should be completely smooth. If any bits or particles of food are stuck, you need to scrub them off.

Heat water to a boil to loosen the stuck on bits, dump the water, and then try using a plastic scrub or stiff nail brush. If it simply want come off, as BT said, you can scrub it with steel wool and simply reason it.
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Old 09-01-2007, 12:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vilasman View Post

My question is this. There is an oily peppery oniony mess in the bottom of both regular pans, and a oily seasoning-y mess in the bottom of the grill pan. Am I just to wipe these out well, with or without water, I did it under running water and then heat them on the stove until dry?
I will turn on my tap water as hot as I can get it and stick my pan under it to wash out any solids. Then I will take a paper towel and wipe it out. I will then dry it, either with a cloth or on a burner, then put a very small amount of oil (maybe the size of a dime or nickel) and wipe it around then put the pan away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vilasman View Post
Wont the oil/butter go rancid? I guess the point is to let the seasonings build up , but wont they clash with each other and make something taste bad?
Nope. I don't know why, but they won't clash or make things taste weird. I know that doesn't sound right, but (assuming the pan is already seasoned and this is not the first time you are using it) it really won't alter the other foods you cook in it. The best seasoning my pan has gotten is when I cook up my onions and peppers for fajitas. They marinate in oil and a lot of heavy seasoning. They cook in the pan for a long time. The seasoning mix is quite powerful. The pan looks amazing after I cook those. The next thing I cook in it does not taste anything at all like my fajita mix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vilasman View Post
Last question, My mom had a cast iron pan that had stuff caked up on it so thick that when she decided to clean it we had to chisel it. Should we have left it? Is the pan essentially supposed to get thicker and I mean significantly thicker from food build up over time?
It sounds to me like that was probably cooked on food and not seasoning. You were right in getting that off however you could. The seasoning will get thicker over time, but not significantly. I would think a 100 year old pan which has been used daily may build up maybe an eighth of an inch or so (that is just a major guess on my part so don't get out your ruler).

Quote:
Originally Posted by vilasman View Post
Last question for real, I also have the cast iron wok, the double griddle and the pizza pan. All of these i should not wash, but just wipe off well when hot?
If they are all raw cast iron then yes you treat then all the same way just as you would for your pan above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vilasman View Post
I use the double griddle in the oven to do bacon, recently I have taken to covering it with aluminum foil so that the bacon fat dosent build up on the pan and then I dont have to think about the bacon fat going rancid... but is wiping it enough?
Don't use the foil for the bacon. Bacon is one of the best things that can come into contact with your cast iron. As a matter of fact, bacon is often the first thing people cook in a new cast iron pan because it does such a good job of reinforcing the seasoning. You are doing great things for your pan if you let the bacon grease on it.
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Old 09-01-2007, 02:29 PM   #7
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just oily residue? wipe it out
crud and gunk? hot water and a stiff brush
stubborn burned on crud? course salt and a stiff brush
years of caked on grime? I like to burn it off in the bbq or fireplace then wash and reseason.

raw cast iron was fronteer ware. water wasn't always plentiful so it wasn't always used to clean nor is it needed. Soap as we know it today, didn't exsist.
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Old 09-01-2007, 06:17 PM   #8
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I have experimented with my cast iron just because I do that kind of thing. A well-seasoned piece of cast iron doesn't suffer from a bit of grease cutting soap. Of course it's easier to clean it up every time you use it by putting the hot pan under hot, running water and scrubbing with a stiff plastic brush. Then you don't get any build-up problems.

When your pans are new, it is important to keep the metal oiled until that pasticized, carbon/oil buildup is formed. This protects the raw iron from oxidizing, or rusting. Also make sure the pan is completely dry before retiring it to it's cupborard or storage space. If you do end up destroying hte seasoning, like everyone else said, just re-season it.

You will soon get used to your cookware and find that it is the most durable and useful cookware in your home.

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Old 09-01-2007, 06:53 PM   #9
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Well none of cast iron is less than...3 years old. I dont use some of it very often because there is a pile of non stick here and my wife complains of a metallic taste, which probably due to lack of seasoning.

Table salt will do for cleaning, correct?

I would assume the best trick for cleaning it is to do it before you eat while the pan is still hot.
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Old 09-02-2007, 06:26 AM   #10
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I have also used brillo pads and soap and water on tough ones and then you just have to remenber to lightly oil it after.

I have gone to a garage sales and purchased alot of my cast iron - you can pick it up real cheap. I just purchased a 5qt dutch oven. I once got a huge frying pan and it was really nasty dirty build up and no pun insteaded but dirt cheap. I took it home - put a wire brush to it and sandpaper scrapped and fine sand it and started up the gas grill and oiled it well and heated it on the grill so it wouldn't stink up the house and occasionaly reoiled - When done it looks brand new. I often use soap and water on mine if they don't wipe out easy or if i cook fish So you can't hurt cast iron as long as you remenber to keep it seasoned.
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