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Food is stuck in my cast iron pan...I read I should put water in it and boil it, but won't that...

 
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take the seasoning off??

Because I just did that and my pan looks very dull. =/ I don't think it was that seasoned to begin with, but I've had this pan for about a month now, and it doesn't seem to be becoming non-stick! =/
 
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It takes a long, long time of repeated seasonings before cast iron skillets become non-stick. Just re-season it and next time just put some oil in on top of the stuck food and wait until it softens enough to be scraped out with a spatula. Then sprinkle some salt in the pan and scour it with the salt and some oil~some people use newspaper to do this but paper towel or a rag will be fine. Oil it again before storing.
 
Mother Tree
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Have a read of Paul's cast iron article, then do what you have to do to clean the pan and re-season it.
 
steward
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I use a cheap paint scraper/plastering thingie with the sharp corners rounded off. No food has ever withstood its scrapy power!
As Jay says, creating a good seasoning layer takes time, it's not a one-off thing.
In my experience, the best seasoning is animal fat. I should eat more meat, for my pan's sake, of course
 
pollinator
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what were you cooking?
 
author & steward
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I have found a bit of oil (I usually use olive) and salt work well on stuck food in cast iron pans. I scrape out what I can first, add the oil and salt, and then use a rag to dry scrub it. The salt is a good abrasive and the oil helps soften the stuck-on food, plus helps keep the pan's seasoning. Wipe out any leftover salt when you're done. This works quickest while the pan is still slightly warm.
 
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I too use a scraper. It's a small, about 2.5" Wide X 3.5" long blade. Here's how I clean my pan, which also cleans out flavors I may not want in next meal. 😋

Every time I use my cast-iron pans:
** I scrape and wipe out as much food as possible.
** Then I put a scant layer of water to just cover pan bottom.
** Turn on heat to get it to simmer. Turn off heat and let sit just enough to loosen stuck food, using scraper as needed. Immediately wipe out pan to finish cleaning. It'll still be hot so be carefull.
** While still hot add some coconut oil and spread it all around sides, bottom and top edge of pan. Let sit over night or at least until fully cooled. It'll absorb some of the oil.
** Wipe out excess oil. I lay a paper towel in pan if I'm putting in drawer and might set another pan in it.
 
pollinator
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In cooking school we used lots of oil and sea salt. Left to simmer for half an hour. I do it about once a year to all my cast iron pots and pans.
But then, most restaurants avoid cast iron pans because they are so heavy. So after cooking school I have only used them at home.

 
master steward
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The quickest way to build up the non-stick surface is to use the pan for frying meat.

I do not drain my oil unless I am making pan gravy.

I never wash my pans with soap only hot water when necessary.

I have never had food that is stuck to a cast iron pan.
 
pollinator
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Deglazing the pan is a slightly different take on boiling water. It literally is boiling water, but a very small amount. As soon as you remove the food from the pan, when it is still cooking temperature, add a small amount of water - a few tablespoons at the most. It will boil down very quickly into a gravy which you can add to your plate if you want, but the other effect is that the food left in the pan will be now easily scraped off with your spatula without damaging the cure in any way.

On a separate note - boiling water should never hurt the cure. Acid will (tomato sauce, vinegar, etc). Did you re-oil after heat drying? The pan should always have a film of oil protecting it, even just using a towel or rag to wipe a bit of oil after cleaning makes a big difference. If the pan seems permanently changed by boiling water then you probably didn't ever have a true cure in the first place. I'm sure there are threads on how to produce a reliable cure here. My method learned from old timers is to put the pan on an outdoor fire, use peanut oil or bacon grease (very small amounts at a time) and a half an onion on a fork to move the oil around the pan every so often until it seems as though the oil has disappeared. It hasn't actually disappeared, it has polymerized. This takes time and lots of heat. It's an equation between time and heat - more of one less of the other - which boils down to your level of patience. Polymerization can happen at room temperature but takes months, or it can happen in a few minutes but at temperatures that would melt your pan. You have to find your own balance.
 
rocket scientist
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We just fill the pan with water and let it sit overnight.
In the morning a scrubby sponge will quickly clean off any food.
Dry with a paper towel and then add a splash of oil.
Wipe in the oil with a paper towel and store the pan for next time.
We have been it doing this way for 40+ years with the same pans.
 
Anne Miller
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thomas rubino wrote:We just fill the pan with water and let it sit overnight.
In the morning a scrubby sponge will quickly clean off any food.
Dry with a paper towel and then add a splash of oil.
Wipe in the oil with a paper towel and store the pan for next time.
We have been it doing this way for 40+ years with the same pans.



Thomas, I bet that after using that pan for 40 years there is a really nice patina built up.

For newer pans, I would not use this method.

Unless the pan has a really good buildup of the oil coating I would not recommend soaking the pan as this will remove some of the coating.

Lodge, one of the leading cast iron manufacturers agrees:

No! Soaking cast iron in water is a recipe for rust. If you need to remove sticky or stubborn stuck-on food, use a nylon scrubbing brush or a pan scraper and rinse under warm water. Be sure to thoroughly dry your pan.

Note: If you do accidentally leave your pan in water for too long and it develops rust, don't panic! With a little extra care, you can remove the rust and continue using your cast iron cookware.



Also, I don't use soap though Lodge does say a small amount can be used.

Lodge also says to never put cast iron in a dishwasher.

Here are their instructions:

https://www.lodgecastiron.com/discover/cleaning-and-care/cast-iron/how-clean-cast-iron

I paid a lot of money for my Lodge frying pans so I want to preserve their life by taking care of them properly.
 
gardener
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So...not like this?
FB_IMG_1665249609428.jpg
[Thumbnail for FB_IMG_1665249609428.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Sure. I boil mine out whenever something gets caked or burnt in there. I just fill er up and let it boil either for 5 minutes or until I forget about it and come running back in to hopefully find water still in the pan... The seasoning is not affected.
 
master gardener
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I'll soak it for an hour if my bamboo scraper can't get stuff out of the corners immediately, but I'd also be afraid of doing it overnight. But I haven't ever needed to. After that I dry  it off with some stove heat, and oil it while hot.
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Jordan Holland wrote:So...not like this?



Honestly. Pour oil and coarse sea salt on it and let simmer for a couple of hours. That is what we were taught in cooking school.
 
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I have been using cast iron for over 20 years. I have one advice - be merciless with a scraper and after few months you will have a perfect non stick cooking device. Sometimes when I want to fry pancakes, scraping is not enough - the black oily residue will taint my first pancake. In this case after scraping, I just wash it hard with some scrubbing sponge and detergent. It's only cast iron - be tough with it and it will work beautifully.
 
gardener
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Jordan Holland wrote:So...not like this?



Oh man, that reminds me of this really pretentious self proclaimed "foodie" I once knew.... went to the south once and came back blogging about making biscuits with manchego and lavender..... But the WORST ( I still get a little heated thinking about it) was he bought a cast iron pan - gorgeous patent leather satiny smooth vintage seasoned cast iron skillet - and he went and cleaned it down to bare metal and  RE-SEASONED THE DAMN THING! I about lost it. I said "whuut....are you doing" and he replied that he just preferred a fresh seasoning.

I washed my hands of that whole situation after that.
 
Dan Fish
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Hahahaha. That's too funny. A fresh seasoning!

Also, I have a little chain mail looking scrubber that works great for cast iron. Somewhere at least...
 
Leigh Tate
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Dan Fish wrote:I have a little chain mail looking scrubber that works great for cast iron. Somewhere at least...


I have one of those too. Two, actually, one is a larger mesh and the other is finer (like the one pictured). I use the fine one dry sometimes on my cast iron. It also works really well on stainless steel pots and pans.


Source (Amazon)
 
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