Adult Content Warning

This community may contain adult content that is not suitable for minors. By closing this dialog box or continuing to navigate this site, you certify that you are 18 years of age and consent to view adult content.

Cast Iron Pots & Pans

Discussion in 'Cooking' started by bewildered, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. bewildered

    bewildered
    Expand Collapse
    Deeply satisfied pooper

    Reputation:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    11,015
    You have probably heard it on this board if not somewhere else, but cast iron pans are really great for a lot of applications. The hard part, especially if you are not used to cooking with cast iron, is the upkeep. This thread is all about how to keep up your cast iron pans.

    There are two rules of thumb that I live by: keep it oiled, and no soap.

    I know some people have a problem with rust. This means that you have either not developed a good cooking surface that protects the actual cast iron pan and improperly stored it, or you have washed it off, and again not stored it properly.

    This is why scrubbing your pans with soap is a big No-No. Cast iron pans are only great when you have developed a good cooking surface. This cooking surface is carbonized food that clogs up the pores of the cast iron itself on a microscopic level. It takes years to develop this, so don't be mad if your friend beats the hell out of you for washing their cast-iron pan with soap and water.

    So, the nuts and bolts. To clean my pans, I wipe out as much as I can with a paper towel or clean kitchen rag, even if the food in the pan was a little wet. I then dump in a couple of big tablespoons of coarse kosher salt and using circular motions with a paper towel or clean kitchen rag, I clean the inside of my pan. The kosher salt removes excess food and moisture and preserves the coating. If the pan is extra dirty you can dump the first salt and do another round. Before putting away I always put a little bit of oil in the pan and then coat the entire thing using a paper towel. I'm not sure if this is traditional or just what I'm used to seeing around my family, but I store my cast iron pans in the oven and since I have so many and they are oily I separate them with wax paper to stack them.

    It seems like a lot of work at first because most people are used to just throwing all the dirty dishes in the sink and then dealing with them all the same way, but it actually is a very quick way to clean them. After a while when your coating is very good and almost glass-like, you have far less food sticking to the pan and the cleanup will be even faster.
     
  2. Nettdata

    Nettdata
    Expand Collapse
    Mr. Toast

    Reputation:
    2,885
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Messages:
    25,885
    FYI, soap and water will not ruin the finish on a properly seasoned cast iron pot or pan. It will remove any oil that is present, and it is the oil that is stopping the oxidation from happening.

    What I do is wash my pots/pans in soapy water (no abrasives which will remove the carbonized layer), heat them up, and then wipe them with oil of some sort. The heated pan will then soak in the oil and protect from rusting.

    Seasoning a pan is about filling the molecular craters that are left from the casting process. They are huge, regardless of the casting quality, and it is only by finishing the pan with abrasives that you will properly remove the craters. Almost all affordable cast iron pots and pans have had next to no finishing work done on them, so they are incredibly hard to season. Old school cast iron that is expensive now was usually finished after the casting process, either machined smooth, or ground down smooth, then seasoned. They don't do that much these days because it's expensive.

    If you want to have really well seasoned cast iron, sand the fuck out of it. Get a grinder with a flap disc, use various grits of sandpaper, and then polish the fuck out of it. Once it's crazy smooth to the touch, almost mirror finish, then the seasoning can be done very quickly and well.

    For example:



    or this:

     
    #2 Nettdata, Oct 20, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
  3. bewildered

    bewildered
    Expand Collapse
    Deeply satisfied pooper

    Reputation:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    11,015
    I don't have the self restraint to use soap and not scrub. I tried and failed. Even my dentist tells me I brush too hard.
     
  4. xrayvision

    xrayvision
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    515
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    6,328
    Location:
    Hyewston
    I will use soap and super hot water on my cast irons if there’s a lot of burned on gunk. I will scrape them clean and maybe use soap if I cooked fish or something smelly. Then I get it super hot on the stove for a few minutes and then rub down the surface with some olive oil. Mine look great. And I use them at least 3-4 times a week.
     
  5. bewildered

    bewildered
    Expand Collapse
    Deeply satisfied pooper

    Reputation:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    11,015
    Xray do you ever use salt? The salt was a trick I picked up here and it really removes all that stuff. I was trying to be gentle with soap but I routinely screwed up my coating.

    There is also a chainmail scrubber on Amazon that is supposed to be all that and a bag of chips in regards to cast iron upkeep.
     
  6. Nettdata

    Nettdata
    Expand Collapse
    Mr. Toast

    Reputation:
    2,885
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Messages:
    25,885
    Exactly. The seasoning layer is pretty tough to remove and you won’t do it easily with soap and water.

    The key is the oil has to be applied to help resist rust.

    Blacksmiths use boiled linseed oil or beeswax for the same purpose, but when you cook and clean a pot, soap or not, it depletes some of that protection. (unless you were cooking something fatty like bacon and just wiped it out with a paper towell).

    Heating it up expands the pores and draws the oil into the metal as it cools.
     
  7. Nettdata

    Nettdata
    Expand Collapse
    Mr. Toast

    Reputation:
    2,885
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Messages:
    25,885
    Salt is like granular sand paper and is an abrasive that will remove your patina.

    Better to soak it in hot soapy water.
     
  8. xrayvision

    xrayvision
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    515
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    6,328
    Location:
    Hyewston
    No I don’t use salt. I have soft dish brushes I use to work away at heavily cooked on build-up. Lodge also makes a scraper that works nicely to remove stuff from the surface. 9C36742D-5A9D-4C8D-BF38-DD4764FCA008.jpeg
     
  9. Nettdata

    Nettdata
    Expand Collapse
    Mr. Toast

    Reputation:
    2,885
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Messages:
    25,885
    I have something similar from a camping outfitter. Very handy.
     
  10. bewildered

    bewildered
    Expand Collapse
    Deeply satisfied pooper

    Reputation:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    11,015
    Have I been screwing up my pans?
     
  11. Nettdata

    Nettdata
    Expand Collapse
    Mr. Toast

    Reputation:
    2,885
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Messages:
    25,885
    Not completely...
     
  12. xrayvision

    xrayvision
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    515
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    6,328
    Location:
    Hyewston
    Na, just be careful to remove only the burned on stuff that really interferes in creating a smooth surface. When I make Korean ribs, it leaves behind mountains of carbonized sugar and marinade that would not only affect the taste of my next meal but would also prevent future food from making contact with the surface of the pan. I scrape that off but a steak or something just gets some nice hot water and maybe a coat of oil.
     
  13. Nettdata

    Nettdata
    Expand Collapse
    Mr. Toast

    Reputation:
    2,885
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Messages:
    25,885
    Basically, the carbon (seasoning) that is baked onto the surface of the pan is (for anything residential) chemically inert... you're not going to be able to dissolve it or remove it easily with chemicals... like soap. It's a bunch of carbon that is super smooth and held in place, filling up the "holes" in the pan's surface, by friction.

    A bad analogy would be that It's like mud that was jammed in between bricks and then heat treated so that it became mortar. Spraying it with water (soapy or otherwise) won't affect it, but take a hammer and chisel, or anything else that mechanically attacks it (like chain mail, salt crystals, etc), and you're going to break it down physically and crumble it up and it will fall out.

    The oil has nothing to do with that process, it's just there to protect the rest of the cast iron from rusting.
     
  14. bewildered

    bewildered
    Expand Collapse
    Deeply satisfied pooper

    Reputation:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    11,015
    I definitely have prevented them from rusting so that is a start. I'll work on my cast iron game this weekend.
     
  15. Nettdata

    Nettdata
    Expand Collapse
    Mr. Toast

    Reputation:
    2,885
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Messages:
    25,885
    I expect pics of you with an angle grinder and flap disk covered in soot by Monday morning...
     
  16. xrayvision

    xrayvision
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    515
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    6,328
    Location:
    Hyewston
    If you wanna talk about enameled cast iron, that’s a different level of care. I never use metal utensils on it and never go above a level 3 heat on the stove.

    I refuse to let my new babies get damaged.
     
  17. bewildered

    bewildered
    Expand Collapse
    Deeply satisfied pooper

    Reputation:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    11,015
    There's definitely a picture of me floating around with my hair stuck in a belt sander so it might end a little more violently than you are imagining.
     
  18. Nettdata

    Nettdata
    Expand Collapse
    Mr. Toast

    Reputation:
    2,885
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Messages:
    25,885
    Yeah, that's totally different, and you have more issues with staining than actual damage... but if you chip that enamel, you're fucked.

    I generally go for Le Creuset stuff, but it's expensive as balls, so I tried a cheaper Wolfgang Puck big dutch oven, and it chipped and delaminated the enamel stupidly fast... never again.
     
  19. xrayvision

    xrayvision
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    515
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2009
    Messages:
    6,328
    Location:
    Hyewston
    Yes we decided to splurge on Le creuset and so far I love it. They specifically warn again certain behaviors that could damage the pot and not be covered under their warranty. We had a food network brand one before and the enamel chipped into the food and we couldn’t really eat because we didn’t want to ingest porcelain.
     
  20. Aetius

    Aetius
    Expand Collapse
    Emotionally Jaded

    Reputation:
    777
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    8,491
    Bed Bath and Beyond also sells a nylon scraper for literally $0.99 that's amazing at scraping gunk off pans. At that price it's worth it for cleaning alone, but it's also a really good dough scraper with a rounded corner for working in bowls if you're a bread baker.