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» Trad Gang.com » Main Forums » Recipes/Grilling/ Barbecuing/Smokers » Cast iron pan season along... (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Cast iron pan season along...
Dave Bulla
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Okay....

Many times in the past there have been people asking about how to season, use or care for cast iron cookware. I've posted on several threads about it.

The short version of what I usually say is that the best way to strip and restore an old pan is to run it through a self clean cycle in your oven. All stuck on crud will turn to ash and brush right off. Then there are usually some basic comments on how to season and care for the stuff afterwords. This thread will be mostly about how to reseason a pan after it has been properly stripped. Or, if it is brand new.

A while back I noticed that one of our favorite pans was getting a little crusty on the outside and wanted to clean it up and start over again. Instead of doing the oven self clean, I decided to get more primitive and throw it in a fire to burn clean. This particular pan started it's life with us in just that way... We'd gone camping and realized that we forgot to bring a frying pan. There was an antique store up the road a ways and we stopped in and found a square cast iron pan that would fit perfect on my Coleman stove. For about $5, it became ours. It was kinda scabbed up on the outside so that night I threw it in the campfire which was mostly hedge wood and let it burn clean and in the morning, we fried up some bacon to season it and never looked back. Fast forward about ten years... The pan had served us well and was a house favorite but it was getting a little "scabby" on the outside from years of use and little dribbles running down the side that went unnoticed and unwiped. It was time for and good stripping and reseasoning. I thought instead of the self clean thing, I'd stick with the rebirth by fire theme and throw it into the BBQ grill that had a good charcoal and hardwood fire going. Well, it cleaned it okay but not like a hedge fire. I remember using a stick to fish the pan out of the hedge fire after it had been in the coals for about an hour and it was glowing red! This time, when I did it in the grill, I screwed up and forgot about it being in the grill since it got late and I went to bed. I remembered and took it out two days later after it had rained and rust had started to form on it.. Really ticked me off! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! It's been sitting around waiting for a "fix up job" ever since. Speaking of which, think about this... Have you ever heard of anyone FIXING a teflon pan? Heck no! They spend all kinds of money on them. Some are cheap wally world specials and others are fancy shmancy stuff that are supposed to be "professional" grade and it seems to me that they all wear out at about the same rate. Some last a little better but whether they're cheapo's or expensive, your are limited to plastic and wood utensils. With cast iron you can use almost anything you want without harming the pan. If, after years of use, the pan is getting a little yucky, just burn it clean and start over like it's a brand new pan! Anyway, back to the topic...

Today, I took it to work and used our glass bead blaster to clean it up. WOW!!! It looked like it just came out of the casting sand! Took a while but boy did it ever do the job. I left it "dry and dusty" as I knew that if I washed it, rust would start to form in minutes. When I got home, I decided to go ahead and wash it, dry it on the stove and season it. I had it hot on the stove and added a dab of lard, spread it around and thought, "I should get the camera and take some pics of this process since so many people are always asking about it. I ran upstairs and grabbed the camera and came back to the kitchen. Total time maybe a minute after I'd put the lard in and wiped it around to cover the entire pan.

Here is the picture. It's already starting to brown a little but note how silver the rest of it is. The sand blaster really took it down to the bare metal.

p.s. Please ignore the little bit of spilled stuff in the bottom of the stove. My wife does day care, we have three kids of our own, I'm a rather big fella and we USE our stove. She usually has it all clean before bed time but sometimes on the weekend she lets it slide till the next morning. She'd be pretty P.O'd if she knew I posted pics of her stove looking like this...

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Now, a lot of folks will tell you the best way is to season in the oven at about 350 degrees. I've done it and it works pretty good. However, I think doing it on the stovetop is a little faster and gives you better control. When it's in the oven, usually you just wipe it down, stick it in and walk away. Pretty easy for sure.

But when I do it on the stove top, I can control the amount of lard, wipe things around to sort of "smooth" the oils as it seasons and freshen it up if needed. It doesn't get the sides of the pan quite as well but you can do the bottom nicely and the rest will come with time or you can stick it in the oven after doing the stovetop method if you want and it will even things out a bit.

There is a lot of varied opinion about what is the best lube to season a pan with but personally, I feel nothing is better than lard. Especially for the initial seasoning. I've tried crisco, vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, olive oil etc. etc. etc. They all work to varying degrees but for consistent results and more importantly hardness and durability, I feel lard is the best there is. In my experience, all the other oils and shortenings tend to leave a slightly gummy residue that is not quite as durable as lard. Besides, this is TRADgang right? Lets at least try the traditional methods first eh? Right about now is the part where someone usually jumps in and claims lard will go rancid in the pan, therefore you should use olive oil or some other oil instead. Well, all I can say is that I've been using cast iron most of my life and have never had a pan go rancid on me. I thought maybe it was because my pans usually don't sit in storage long enough for the lard to turn bad but in recent years I've had pans that sat on a shelf in the basement for a couple years until I needed them and they were just fine. I've come to the conclusion that if there is a problem with going rancid, it's a problem of not properly wiping the pans down after cleaning. We all know that you're not supposed to use soap and water on cast iron. That's a pretty good general rule but not hard and fast. At least not in our house. I usually use hot water if I cook something that leaves a lot of residue. Especially if it sticks a bit. A little bit of soap and water on a well seasoned pan (I'm talking years of use) won't hurt it much if at all. If I have to go that route, I usually dry the pan on the stove and add a dab of lard and wipe it around in a thin layer and let it set on medium heat until it appears to start to dry up and then just give it another wipe with a dry paper towel and put it away.

But I'm getting off topic or at least out of sequence. Our pan has been sitting patiently on the stove taking on a golden brown hue. Here is my little brick of lard that I feel is so important.

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About five minutes after the first wipe down with lard, this is how the pan looks.

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I've used the same paper towel I initially spread the melted lard with to sort of "refresh" the light layer of oil several times already. It's been soaking into the paper towel so when I wipe, not much goes onto the pan but it's enough to just give it a shine and change the color to a "wet look".

After another couple minutes, I decide to add another dab of lard to the pan. Might be a good time to take a pic to show how much or how little I actually use. It's not very much really. After it melts, it's just enough that a wadded up paper towel can sop up the excess from inside the pan and I can wipe down the outside and give it a little shine.

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Another 3 or 4 minutes and I've set off the smoke alarm.... Ooops! Anyway, it looks like this now.

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You will notice that there is a circular pattern inside the pan. That's because or the shape of the burner flame. It's the one advantage to using the oven. If you don't like the looks of a stove top seasoned pan use the oven. But honestly, after a few more uses, it will all even out and turn black. I still opt for the stove top method because I like the control of being able to look for little droplets forming on the surface and wiping them away before they harden into bumps like they would if left unattended. If you really want it to look even right away, after you do the stove top thing, toss it in the oven upside down at about 350 degrees for an hour or so. Or just live with it until it evens out by itself from normal stove top use.

Now, I'm not sure if this link will work or not but I went ahead and fried an egg in this pan on video. Remember, 15 minutes ago, this pan had a freshly sand blasted finish with ZERO seasoning. I'll let YOU be the judge as to whether it works or not.

http://s2.photobucket.com/albums/y43/DaveBulla/?action=view¤t=castironseasoning008.mp4

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Dave


I've come to believe that the keys to shooting well for me are good form, trusting the bow to do all the work, and having the confidence in the bow and myself to remain motionless and relaxed at release until the arrow hits the mark.

Posts: 3285 | From: Kansas City MO | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dave Bulla
Trad Bowhunter
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Well, looks like the video link worked!

The pan looks a lot darker than in the pic's but that's because the pic's had flash.

And yes, the egg was GOOOOOOOD!

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Dave


I've come to believe that the keys to shooting well for me are good form, trusting the bow to do all the work, and having the confidence in the bow and myself to remain motionless and relaxed at release until the arrow hits the mark.

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bretto
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Great job Dave. I've got a couple to re-do here soon I think I'll give this a try.

You said You bead blasted this pan. Have You ever sand blasted one? I have access to sand blasting equipment but not bead blasters.

bretto

Posts: 2319 | From: Linwood, Ks | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dave Bulla
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Bretto,

The machine I used was at my work also. I'm not certain what the blasting media was. It looks like sand and it was a pale tan/gray color. There was a bag in the trash next to the machine that I looked at but honestly I'm not sure what it said anymore. As far as I know, both sand and glass are essentially the same aren't they?

If i were you. If your pans do not have any actual rust on them, I'd just do the oven self clean thing unless you just want to play with the sand blaster. Last night was the first time I'd ever used one and it was kinda fun. Took me about 20 or 30 minutes to get it done but the machine was low on blasting media.

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Dave


I've come to believe that the keys to shooting well for me are good form, trusting the bow to do all the work, and having the confidence in the bow and myself to remain motionless and relaxed at release until the arrow hits the mark.

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bretto
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Thanks Dave. I finally got back to work after a LOOOONG winter. Had to go back to My old job on the Bridge crew. We use a large trailer mounted Blaster several times a week and I just thought it might be quicker.

The pans I'll be seasoning belonged to My Mother or Grandmother. My Grandmother passed 20 years ago and My Mother never used cast iron after the non-stick skillets hit the market. So they might have more dust than rust.

I might try one and see how it works.

bretto

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VTer
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Thanks Dave. I aquired a used dutch oven last year as a shoot prize. I just seasoned it last weekend and I'm looking forward to cooking up some culinary delights! I used the oven technique with vegetable oil and noticed the gumminess on the bottom. I figure it will get better as I use it. I actually came here to the recipe section looking for dutch oven recipes and saw your thread. Very good.

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Schafer Silvertip 66#-"In memory", Green Mountain Longbow 60#, Hill Country Harvest Master TD 59#

"Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible."
- Doug Lawson.

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Dave Bulla
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VTer, that gumminess is the main reason I prefer lard. On the pan I just did above, the seasoning layer is pretty much undetectable except visually. You can't feel it and you can't scratch it unless you do something that actually can scratch the metal like maybe drag an awl across it.

I certainly don't want people to think I only cook with lard and that nothing else will work but after having seasoned many pots and pans with about everything you could think of, I must say that lard is the best commercially available thing you can use for the initial seasoning. I actually think beef or deer tallow is a bit better but most people don't have that laying around. Once you season with the lard, you can cook with the other oils with no problem. However, I still like to have some lard on hand to use after cleaning to refresh the pan. You will find that if you scorch something and make a mess of the pan that it can be a little stubborn to clean sometimes. If it's well seasoned, you can get it medium hot and dump in a glass of water to sear it clean while scraping with a spatula or, what I prefer is to just warm it up and add a little bit of water and use one of the plastic scrubby buns like I mentioned above. They are about the size of a hamburger bun and look like fishnet that's been rolled up about like if you took a sock off by rolling it down to your toes. There is also a stainless one that looks like a wad of drill shavings and it works well but is a little more aggressive. It doesn't seem to hurt my pans at all so whichever one you find in the store should work fine. I do always try to put the pot or pan back on the stove to dry it and then add a little dab of lard, smear it around to "thin it down" to just a faint smear and let the pan continue to heat for a few minutes. Sort of a mini seasoning session. Keeps things working like it's supposed to and refreshes the base seasoning of the pan.

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Dave


I've come to believe that the keys to shooting well for me are good form, trusting the bow to do all the work, and having the confidence in the bow and myself to remain motionless and relaxed at release until the arrow hits the mark.

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Mint
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This thread is perfect timing for me. My wife's sister came for a visit and she scrubbed my wife's cast iron pan "clean" with an sos pad. I thought my wife was going to have a stroke. Thanks for all the tips.

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bretto
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Probably better it was Her Sister and not Your Brother.LOL

Hey Dave, How do You season the outside of the pan? If Your keeping it in the kitchen probably doesn't matter. I've got one I was going to put in My camping box and wondered about the outside.

Thanks, bretto

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Slewfoot62
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I aquired all my mothers cast iron when she passed away. Got all the peices cleaned up and seasoned. Been cooking up a storm with them. My wife threw away her nonstick stuff.
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Dave Bulla
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Bretto, do it just like the inside and at the same time. You coat the entire pan inside and out. Handle too.

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Dave


I've come to believe that the keys to shooting well for me are good form, trusting the bow to do all the work, and having the confidence in the bow and myself to remain motionless and relaxed at release until the arrow hits the mark.

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bretto
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Thanks Dave. [thumbsup]
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frank bullitt
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Yeah Dave, that works great. A few years ago I did the same, put in the fire pit and burned off, took to work used a wheela brade- shot blast cabinet. Seems like ever company has a name for it. Re-seasoned Grandma's old pot, now good as "old".

Only thing I would say, don't use the oven! Fire pit or turn the gas grill on high, and burn off. Leave the smoke outside!

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Chinook
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Thanks Dave.
I've got a big and a medium that I had almost given up on. This will bring them back to life !
Chinook

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Dave Bulla
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Well Frank, ya gotta turn on the range fan when you run the self clean cycle anyway. That should take care of any smoke from the oven.

Chinook, let me know how it works out for you. Are your pans rusted or just scabbed up?

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Dave


I've come to believe that the keys to shooting well for me are good form, trusting the bow to do all the work, and having the confidence in the bow and myself to remain motionless and relaxed at release until the arrow hits the mark.

Posts: 3285 | From: Kansas City MO | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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