Seasoning a cast-iron skillet

DrezDrez Registered User regular
So I bought a Lodge cast iron skillet. It's supposedly pre-seasoned, but it looks pretty gross and has a sticker on it and everything.

So I'm thinking of cleaning it and re-seasoning it.

Anyone have a recommended method?

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  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    Honestly, it's probably just fine, but if you're set on it, rub some vegetable oil on it and stick it in an oven set for 325 for an hour

    FiendishrabbitCowShark
  • Bendery It Like BeckhamBendery It Like Beckham Hopeless Registered User regular
    I have a Lodge skillet as well, I'm guessing it's because it looks a bit rough is why it looks gross? I've had to scour my pan a few times and normally just end up brushing olive oil on it and leaving it in the over for an hour at 300. Put foil on the bottom rack, put the pan upside down on the top rack. Be careful when you open the oven after cooking is done, the fumes from the pan can burn your eyes pretty bad. (experience)

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON IndiaRegistered User regular
    Do this.

    XaquinMichaelLCDescendant XInfidelForbe!DrezQuid143999
  • EntriechEntriech Registered User regular
    Or perhaps this. Flaxseed oil is apparently the way to go.

    Daenris
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited September 2016
    Entriech wrote: »
    Or perhaps this. Flaxseed oil is apparently the way to go.

    I actually just read something in the comments there that has changed what I understand about the internet. Useful information does sometimes exist in comments.
    KathiT - 11 Months Ago
    Flaxseed oil is fine for display pieces but a poor choice for seasoning cooking pans.

    The main reason it is a poor choice for cooking pans is that it forms a non-durable coating that is brittle and which chips and flakes easily. If you plan on re-selling your seasoned pan, season with anything else because people who love CI don't buy flaxseed-seasoned pans

    Degree of unsaturation discussions always seem to neglect discussion of long term durability. As a chemist, I understand the principle behind why people believe it is a good coating... high unsaturation = more crosslinking... but that is only part of the seasoning story. High unsaturation also leads to a polymer that is more brittle and with less carbonized material in the interstices. Carbon is important to both non stick properties and durability of the seasoning layer.

    Better choices for seasoning cooking pans are canola oil, Pam, Crisco, or Crisbee (TM).

    I mostly use Crisco and Crisbee. Crisbee is especially good for pans that will see storage because it does not go rancid. It also smells really nice when the pans are in the oven. I also like Canola and Pam (which have a high degree of unsaturation if you like that theory). Because it is a spray, Pam is particularly nice for seasoning pans that have lots of nooks and crannies, such as corn stick pans or gem pans.

    I personally do not subscribe to the unsaturation level as sole indicator of whether a fat makes a quality seasoning. Coconut oil is used by a lot of people for seasoning baking pans despite more saturated. I have a coconut oil-seasoned bundt pan and it practically SPITS cakes out, even when my pan prep is sloppy.

    You need some unsaturation to crosslink, but it is more important that you
    1). Start with a CLEAN pan (no rust, no baked on food)
    2). Apply a thin layer (do not gob it on) and wipe off the excess.
    3). Season at a high enough temperature (500 degrees)
    4). Leave in the oven long enough (1 hour minimum)
    5). Don't open the oven door until the temp is back down to 250 degrees, especially if you are working with vintage pieces
    6). Repeat the process a few times to build up a nice layer. I usually go through 3 cycles.

    dispatch.o on
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    The link in Tycho's comment is the best. My only other advice is if you have a decent sized gas grill and a thermometer, it is better to do it outside.

    For what its worth, I do 95% of my cooking in cast iron. I've used veggie oil, mineral oil, canola oil, all sorts of oil. Canola/veggie are my preferred. I've even used PAM in a pinch and it works just fine (Baking pam is great on a CI skillet you're doing pancakes on).

    As far as cleaning goes, I usually remove my food from it immediately, put about a 1/2 cup of water into the pan to deglaze and rub with a hard bristle brush to get any stuck on bits out. I try not to use any sort of abrasive on it such as a scotchbright pad, or even the scrubby part of a sponge, strictly hot water and a hard bristle brush. Some people also use coarse salt. Throw it back on the stove top and lightly coat with your oil of choice. If you aren't storing them for long periods, you probably wont have to worry about the oil going rancid.

    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
    IrukaVishNub
  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    It takes some serious elbow grease and a really strong soap to ruin a pan's seasoning when you clean it. Don't be afraid to take it to town if something's baked on. They're durable.

    LoveIsUnity
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    What if you have no kitchen ventilation?

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • TNTrooperTNTrooper Registered User regular
    Open every window nearby and cook a lot of bacon. Or light a scented candle but you could have bacon.

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    CowShark
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    We have a cast iron dutch oven with this white "paint" on the interior.

    Should we concern ourselves with seasoning that?

  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    We have a cast iron dutch oven with this white "paint" on the interior.

    Should we concern ourselves with seasoning that?

    I hope that's a ceramic enamel!

    So It GoesKetarMichaelLCLoveIsUnityknitdan143999Endaro
  • SimpsoniaSimpsonia Registered User regular
    edited September 2016
    The best way to season, at least in my opinion, is the same way pro chefs season woks, adapted for cast iron/carbon steel. Dump about 2 cups of cheap table salt into the pan, making sure to move some up to cover the sides, throw in the oven at 500 for an hour. Discard salt into the sink (carefully) and wipe down with a thin layer of canola oil and throw it back in the oven for another hour.

    The salt draws out all of the water hidden in the microscopic nooks and crannies of the pan that would normally not evaporate (or rather evaporates but stays stuck in the nooks and crannies to condense back into water), it also ensures a more even heating of the pan.

    This is how I seasoned my carbon steel skillet (though I did it on the stovetop, as heating was faster that way). I'd dump the salt in, stir it around a bit and let heat for about 15 minutes or until the salt had turned a light shade of brown. Discarded the salt, wiped down with oil, and then heated back up on the stovetop until the oil sheen on the surface of the pan was completely gone (oil's sheen disappears when it polymerizes).

    Simpsonia on
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    We have a cast iron dutch oven with this white "paint" on the interior.

    Should we concern ourselves with seasoning that?

    If it's something like Le Creuset then it's enameled cast iron, and no you do not need to season that. But you should be careful using metal implements (either during cooking or cleaning) on that surface as you can scratch, crack or chip it.

    XaquinNightDragonElvenshaeLoveIsUnityknitdanCreagan
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    We have a cast iron dutch oven with this white "paint" on the interior.

    Should we concern ourselves with seasoning that?

    Is the inside and outside coated? What you are describing is 'enamel' as Djeet points out. Enamel is typically a coating of glass or ceramic which provides a great non-stick surface, without needing to season, but provides all the benefits of cast iron (heat control/retention). Djeet is also correct, these are prone to scratching much like teflon pans, use wooden/silicone/plastic implements. Also, since it is glass, it is prone to heat shock, so avoid heavy deglazing/rinsing while hot, avoid banging it against anything, as the enamel will chip off.

    Here is lodges' recommended care for enameled cast iron.

    I've never seen cast iron with enamel only inside, so I would imagine the outside would also have some, more than likely, different color enamel.

    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    Yes, different color outside.

    Thanks!

  • ZomroZomro Registered User regular
    I've been considering getting a cast iron skillet, so this thread is pretty awesome. I don't want to spend a whole lot of money on it, but obviously want to avoid a bad purchase. How much is a good amount to spend on a cast iron skillet, and are there any brands to look out for, either to pick up or avoid?

  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Just get a cheap made in USA Lodge cast iron skillet. Can't go wrong.

    LoveIsUnityElvenshaeCauldXaquinKetarShadowfireEndaroBendery It Like Beckham
  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    Personally I like to spend a bit more. A thicker bottom improves the heat distribution and being cast in a pressed sand mold gives a better surface. Meanwhile, avoiding recycled scrap metal from questionable sources seems like a pretty good idea for a piece of cookware as leaching is a thing and avoiding heavy metal contamination is IMHO a really good idea.

    My own darling is a 28cm Skeppshult professional, but that might be too much for some. At 3+ kilos in weight it's also not a good choice if you don't have strong wrists.

    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
  • LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    Most of my cast iron skillets were hand-me-downs from my grandmother, but I do have a big old 12" Lodge cast iron that I bought as well.

    After using it for a year or two it worked just as well as the stuff that's been around for close to 100 years.

    steam_sig.png
    Elvenshae
  • CowSharkCowShark Registered User regular
    10 Cook bacon
    20 Chop up some potatoes
    30 Fry potatoes in bacon grease
    40 GOTO 10

    Xaquin143999So It Goes
  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    You forgot the onions.

    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
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  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    Zomro wrote: »
    I've been considering getting a cast iron skillet, so this thread is pretty awesome. I don't want to spend a whole lot of money on it, but obviously want to avoid a bad purchase. How much is a good amount to spend on a cast iron skillet, and are there any brands to look out for, either to pick up or avoid?

    The best cast iron in my collection is stuff I've gotten at flea markets and resale shops. Seriously. Most of the time they may be rusty, but a quick clean up with steel wool/bead blasting and a reseason will fix them right up. The reason I say this, is because while lodge is a decent brand for the price, the quality isn't amazing. I find that they do as little as possible to the casting post-pour, meaning the cooking surface has the pits and valleys of a typical sand casting. I find that many older cast iron pans are much smoother, as in they were ground, or used a higher grade casting sand, which leaves a smoother finish. What does this mean? It is easier to clean, releases food better (eggs, searing fish, etc), I would say better than a conventional non-stick pan.

    Some people collect cast iron and you may find some in antique stores and flea markets that are outrageously priced, don't let this get you down. The last cast iron pan I bought second hand was a 12" skillet, smooth, for about $30. Inspect the pan for cracks, and heavy pitting where rust has eaten away the casting. Most of the time these pans were 'too much work' for whomever owned them, the seasoning got worn off or chipped, and they got rid of them. Their loss is your gain, as these are easy things to fix with a bit of elbow grease.

    My first recommendation to most people for cast iron is a dutch oven. These are HIGHLY versatile items, and the weight of a cast iron lid on a dutch oven essentially creates a low-grade pressure cooker. You can maintain a simmer/boil with a low to medium-low heat. They are great for 'one pot meals' like stews, braised meat/veggies, and roasts in the oven. It is my observation that they cut down on cooking time, due do the heat retention of the cast iron.

    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
    CrayonXaquin
  • CrayonCrayon Sleeps in the wrong bed. TejasRegistered User regular
    Forbe! wrote: »
    Zomro wrote: »
    I've been considering getting a cast iron skillet, so this thread is pretty awesome. I don't want to spend a whole lot of money on it, but obviously want to avoid a bad purchase. How much is a good amount to spend on a cast iron skillet, and are there any brands to look out for, either to pick up or avoid?

    The best cast iron in my collection is stuff I've gotten at flea markets and resale shops. Seriously. Most of the time they may be rusty, but a quick clean up with steel wool/bead blasting and a reseason will fix them right up. The reason I say this, is because while lodge is a decent brand for the price, the quality isn't amazing. I find that they do as little as possible to the casting post-pour, meaning the cooking surface has the pits and valleys of a typical sand casting. I find that many older cast iron pans are much smoother, as in they were ground, or used a higher grade casting sand, which leaves a smoother finish. What does this mean? It is easier to clean, releases food better (eggs, searing fish, etc), I would say better than a conventional non-stick pan.

    Some people collect cast iron and you may find some in antique stores and flea markets that are outrageously priced, don't let this get you down. The last cast iron pan I bought second hand was a 12" skillet, smooth, for about $30. Inspect the pan for cracks, and heavy pitting where rust has eaten away the casting. Most of the time these pans were 'too much work' for whomever owned them, the seasoning got worn off or chipped, and they got rid of them. Their loss is your gain, as these are easy things to fix with a bit of elbow grease.

    My first recommendation to most people for cast iron is a dutch oven. These are HIGHLY versatile items, and the weight of a cast iron lid on a dutch oven essentially creates a low-grade pressure cooker. You can maintain a simmer/boil with a low to medium-low heat. They are great for 'one pot meals' like stews, braised meat/veggies, and roasts in the oven. It is my observation that they cut down on cooking time, due do the heat retention of the cast iron.

    Want to second the statement of getting cast iron at flea markets. My god, I've probably paid about $30 total over the years for cast iron skillets that would easily cost a few hundred dollars. Even older skillets that look a bit rusted can be brought back to life quite easily with a wire brush and a little soaking.

  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    Forbe! wrote: »
    Zomro wrote: »
    I've been considering getting a cast iron skillet, so this thread is pretty awesome. I don't want to spend a whole lot of money on it, but obviously want to avoid a bad purchase. How much is a good amount to spend on a cast iron skillet, and are there any brands to look out for, either to pick up or avoid?

    The best cast iron in my collection is stuff I've gotten at flea markets and resale shops. Seriously. Most of the time they may be rusty, but a quick clean up with steel wool/bead blasting and a reseason will fix them right up. The reason I say this, is because while lodge is a decent brand for the price, the quality isn't amazing. I find that they do as little as possible to the casting post-pour, meaning the cooking surface has the pits and valleys of a typical sand casting. I find that many older cast iron pans are much smoother, as in they were ground, or used a higher grade casting sand, which leaves a smoother finish. What does this mean? It is easier to clean, releases food better (eggs, searing fish, etc), I would say better than a conventional non-stick pan.

    Some people collect cast iron and you may find some in antique stores and flea markets that are outrageously priced, don't let this get you down. The last cast iron pan I bought second hand was a 12" skillet, smooth, for about $30. Inspect the pan for cracks, and heavy pitting where rust has eaten away the casting. Most of the time these pans were 'too much work' for whomever owned them, the seasoning got worn off or chipped, and they got rid of them. Their loss is your gain, as these are easy things to fix with a bit of elbow grease.

    My first recommendation to most people for cast iron is a dutch oven. These are HIGHLY versatile items, and the weight of a cast iron lid on a dutch oven essentially creates a low-grade pressure cooker. You can maintain a simmer/boil with a low to medium-low heat. They are great for 'one pot meals' like stews, braised meat/veggies, and roasts in the oven. It is my observation that they cut down on cooking time, due do the heat retention of the cast iron.

    There are many reasons for the rough surface of cheaper cast iron.

    One is the composition of the sand as well as the pressure its made under (quality cast iron molds are made under several tons of pressure), the other is the post-casting work done. Typically in cheaper pans less effort is spent on sandblasting, lathing and grinding the pan into the finished product.

    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    I build patterns and work with castings for a living. Surface quality can be improved a variety of ways, I just didn't think it would be prudent to go into a primer on sand casting.

    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
    Elvenshae
  • ZomroZomro Registered User regular
    So in an awesome coincedence, my best friend bought me a cast iron skillet for my birthday. And, thanks to this thread, I'm totally prepared to season it. I'm excited

    ElvenshaeShadowfireForbe!XaquinBouwsTInfidel
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    Hell yeah. Made fried chicken in mine today. Get some.

    bv2ylq8pac8s.png
    Elvenshae
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