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Old 08-24-2009, 02:09 AM   #1
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Cast Iron Skillet question?

Hi All,
Just joined. I have spent about 2 hours reading through all of your info on cast iron care and seasoning. I have to say that this is one of the most polite and helpful forums I have encountered. They'll take your head off on the kindle forum if you ask a question that has already been asked.

Just bought a 10.25 lodge pre-seasoned skillet. Fried up a bison burger this evening. A little sticking, but no biggie. From my readings, it would seem that I do not HAVE to re-season. Some members think it is a good idea to though. Okay, so THIN coating of crisco, 350 degrees, upside down, cookie sheet on bottom, 1 hour. Some people also think higher temp of 450 is better. Any concensus on that?
Big question: a couple of people mentioned smoking, smoke alarms, and big smells as a side effect of seasoning. Is this true!? Did they do something wrong or does this just happen?

I don't have access to a grill or BBQ. Will the pan be harmed if I wait until cooler weather to season?

FWIW - I used hot water and a nylon scrubber to get out the bison chunks. Dried thoroughly. Put it back on burner, heated it up. Put a thin coating of canola all over.

I know that cast iron is supposed to be easy, but I am terrified of this thing. I don't want to fail it

thanks - christine

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Old 08-24-2009, 02:53 AM   #2
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Did some more research on the internet. I understand now that the oven temp must be higher than the smoke point of the oil/shortening. This is 450-500*. And, of course, there will be smoking. I really want to get the most out of my new pan by seasoning in the optimal way. But, this scares me a little. I have visions of my small kitchen filling with smoke. Has anyone done this? Is there alot of smoke and smell.
I know that seasoning can also be done a lower temps, but "they" say that makes the pan sticky and doesn't make for a proper cure.
Am I worrying too much?
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Old 08-24-2009, 07:10 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riley View Post
...Will the pan be harmed if I wait until cooler weather to season?

I know that cast iron is supposed to be easy, but I am terrified of this thing. I don't want to fail it...
As long as you have some sort of protective coating on the pan, it won't hurt to wait until cooler weather. But more importantly, relax! One of the beautiful aspects of using cast iron is how forgiving it is! What else can you abuse with super high heat, bang it around, leave it out in the back yard for 40 or 50 years in the hands of 3 generations of children, drive over it with cars, trucks, boat trailers and tractors, and then clean it up and use it as if it were brand new?

Seasoning can always be started over again if you think you've made a mistake, which you probably haven't. Just using it is the best part of seasoning. Getting a layer of oil or grease into the pores of the iron to protect it from rusting is what seasoning is all about. As long as you understand that, follow the guidelines here on Discuss Cooking, and avoid using soap or detergent on it, you should be fine.

Old timers used to scrub it out with a scoop of sand, while others rised it out in the nearest stream while wiping it with a handful of moss or straw.

Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 08-24-2009, 07:17 AM   #4
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Hi Christine and welcome to the site

Yes you are worrying too much. Don't sweat it. Pretty much everything you have types is correct, but none of it is a big deal. There probably will be some smoke and smell, but nothing catastrophic. I seasoned mine at 350 for an hour and then shut off the over and left the pan in there to cool overnight. Usually the stickiness comes from using too much fat. I have never heard that it comes from using a lower temp. Mine did have a small bit of stickiness in one spot when I was done, but after washing and using the pan that went away.

Don't be terrified of this process or of using cast iron. One of the great things about cast iron is that it is as close to indestructible as you will get. If you try it and mess up (which you won't, don't worry) you can always just wash it and start over again, no harm done.

Your kitchen will not fill with smoke. It might get smoky, but not as much as if you were cooking a steak or something.

Have you been cooking with it without seasoning it first? That is something I would not recommend. You could end up with rust if you do that. That is not the end of the world, but it would require some elbow grease to fix. Just season it in your oven and then use it to cook some bacon or something fatty like that and you will be golden.

BTW, which Kindle board do you belong to? The site won't let you post a link yet so send me a PM. I have a Kindle too and browse one of the boards sometimes. If you are not at the one I use I can tell you which one it is. You might like it better than the one you are at now.
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Old 08-24-2009, 07:40 AM   #5
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Morning Miss Christine. Welcome to DC. Make yourself at home!

It sounds like you have done your homework on cast iron, and are well on your way to enjoying your pan --- A few comments I hope you will find helpful: Don't be "terrified" of the pan...Short of adding a cold liquid to a very hot pan, which will cause it to possibly crack, and taking a 10 LB. Sledge Hammer and beating it to death it's practically impossible to harm any cast iron pan ---- A lot of smoke, with smoke detectors going off would be an exception not the rule when seasoning cast iron...Maybe "they" used to much shortening, too hot of an oven, no drip pan underneath, no vent hood over the stove, etc. I dunno. I have never set off smoke detectors or filled my kitchen/house with smoke when seasoning cast iron. There will be a smell associated with the process, but it is not that offensive, and will soon dissipate. ---- While oil or shortening can be used to season, In the initial stages I prefer shortening over oil. So, your method of a thin coat of shortening, upside down, drip pan underneath for an hour or so is spot on IMO. ---- While Lodge pre-seasoned pans can be used straight out of the box, I and most folks recommend that you season the pan before use. In fact I personally recommend you season it 3 times before use. Rub with shortening, not oil,(initially) into a 350*/400* oven for a minimum of 1 hour...longer want hurt. Turn the oven off, and let the pan cool completely. Over the next day or two, repeat the process twice more. ----- Higher oven tempertures can be used, (possibly creating smoke, setting off smoke detectors etc.) but I find lower tempertures (350*/400* for a longer period of time, repeated 3 times works best for me. ---- It is true that low tempertures, oil (initially) rather than shortening, and not enough time in the oven can possibily lead to
stickiness. The shortneing/oil must be reduced to carbon to create seasoning layers and not be sticky/tacky... This is best accomplished (IMO) by using a thin layer of shortening, in a hot 350*/400* oven for a minimum of 1 hour...I prefer 1 1/2 hours....turn the oven off, and leave the pan in the oven to cool....Again, I suggest doing this three times then your pan will be ready to use...Use and enjoy it often and soon you'll wonder how you ever cooked without it...
HTH.....

Have Fun & Enjoy!
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:29 AM   #6
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Hi and welcome to DC! You've received a lot of good advice and I'll try not to be contradictory. Uncle Bob's method sounds great, very thorough, and I believe him when he says he gets good results from it. I did my pans at a higher temperature without problems (some smoke/smell, but no alarms). I only seasoned once per pan, but I made a point of cooking oily foods for the first several weeks I had my pans (bacon and dutch babies are the main things I remember making).

Personal taste here, but I don't use hydrogenated oils in my cooking or on my pans, so I tend to recommend lard, ghee or a saturated vegetable oil such as coconut or palm oil. Unsaturated oils are the ones I've usually heard reports of causing sticking - canola in particular was mentioned by my thai cooking instructor as a factor in stickiness for seasoning (we were discussing carbon steel woks at the time, but the principle is the same).
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Morning Miss Christine. Welcome to DC. Make yourself at home!

Don't be "terrified" of the pan...

Use and enjoy it often and soon you'll wonder how you ever cooked without it...

Have Fun & Enjoy!
Uncle Bob is right! I too was terrified of cast iron. Then after reading about it here decided to try my hand at reviving a pan given to me by my grandmother. That went so well that I have acquired a whole range of pan sizes and use them for nearly everything! I love using them and even got both my sons liking them so they are getting their own sets.

One trick I've learned to help cut down on the sticking is to get the pan hot first then don't turn the meat for a while. It will release itself. So if you're trying to turn it and it's not burning but still sticking a bit, leave it alone for a little bit longer and try again.

I have to say that I always had either burnt or undercooked bacon before getting my CI and now I can make the best crunchy strips! CI is the best!
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:46 AM   #8
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Seasoning is carbon ---
Carbon layers are produced by reducing/burning fat (Any Fat) down to its carbon atoms --- It is this layer, upon layer, upon layer, upon layer of carbon that seasons cast iron, creates a protective layer on the iron, and makes the pan virtually non-stick --- These layers of carbon can/may be/are created by the repetitive seasoning process and/or by repetitive use (which is nothing but repetitive seasoning) over several weeks/months/years --- Fats (Any fats) that are not reduced to their carbon stage, can/may be/become sticky/tacky --- Stickiness/tackiness can be/should be avoided by applying thin layers of fat, seasoning at a high enough temperature, for a long enough period of time (or/ideally both) to reduce the fat to its carbon stage ---

Enjoy!
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Old 08-24-2009, 01:39 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the great tips and for the reassurance!
I think I will get a can of crisco or palm/coconut shortening today. I have to hit the organic market anyway.
350-400 is not very scary, so maybe I will give it a try tonight. Im so glad I found this site - my inclination would have been to really goop the pan up with fat.

I don't eat bacon, but I hear that frying some up is good for the pan too. Maybe if I see a cheap package, I will do that too.

Thanks again. Will let you know how it turns out.

Christine
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Old 08-24-2009, 02:59 PM   #10
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Bacon is the usual goto food to cook when starting off with a new cast iron pan, but you don't have to use that if you are not going to eat it anyway. Bacon renders a lot of fat which is what you are looking for. Instead of bacon you could cook something like pan fried chicken as that uses a lot of fat too. Cooking anything that either renders a lot of fat or that you cook in a lot of fat is what you want. It is not a requirement though. if you don't eat bacon and don't want to fry us some chicken then just use the pan for whatever you want to use it for. It will still work. It will just take a little longer to build up that patina that is so sought after in a CI pan. Seasoning is an ongoing process so each time you cook with the pan and use fat you are continuing to build that up.

One other thing that I don't think was mentioned above is to make sure it is bone dry when you put it away. Never leave liquid sitting in the pan if you are not cooking. Once you are done cooking and the pan is cool enough to handle you should wash it out and then dry completely. What a lot of people do is towel dry it and then put it back on the burner for 30 seconds or so to make sure it is dry. Then when you go to store it wipe it down with a little oil. I pour in a drop about the size of a dime to a nickle and wipe that over every surface before I put it away. Oh speaking of every surface, when you do your initial seasoning, make sure to for fat on every surface including the handle and the bottom.
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