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seasoning old cast iron skillet  RSS feed

 
                                        
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I got an old iron skillet, cleaned it down to the grey metal and seasoned it using the recommended instructions so it is nice and black and looks smooth.  However, food still sticks to it.  I've scrubbed it out with a plastic scrubby a few times, and reseasoned because I thought the scrubbing may have removed some of the seasoning.  Today I cooked bacon and then eggs after the bacon, leaving some of the bacon grease in the pan.  The eggs stuck to the pan leaving a yellow film totally adhered to the entire bottom.  I don't know if I should use the boiling water method  because my experience tells me that hot water makes eggs stick worse.  I'm really disappointed with the performance of this pan.  It has been seasoned at least 5 times in a 550 degree oven with shortening.  But everything still sticks in it. 
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Don't give up! There's seasoning and then there's seasoning.

I used to "season" my cast iron pan all the time in the oven, with vegetable oil or shortening, and it was not very non-stick.

I solved this by making sure the fat polymerizes (see Paul's cast iron article) when I season my cast iron. Here's a short how to.

First, remove any carmelized sugar from your yummy bacon, or whatever, and remove any sticky, un-polymerized vegetable oil. I had lots of this. Boil water in the pan and use a good, metal spatula and you'll get it off. (Don't be a dork and use a plastic spatula like I did; it simply doesn't work.) Trust this, you need to get rid of the sticky, to make the non-stick stuff work. Dry the pan well. Use a wet scouring pad if needed to remove any remaining sticky. Dry thoroughly again.

Second, apply a small amount of shortening, lard or bacon grease, and rub it into the pan. (Most vegetable oil does not work well for this.) You don't need a lot. Put the pan on the burner and heat on medium-high or high heat until the fat polymerizes. It's polymerizing when it starts to smoke and makes a spidery or blotchy pattern in the bottom of the pan. Turn off burner.

Third, repeat the second step after or before each use and you will very quickly - in one or two treatments - have a virtually non-stick pan. Once it's non-stick, (depending on how and what you cook) you will want to repeat the second step only occasionally and you can repeat the first and second steps as needed.

Voila! The secret is in getting off the sticky, using a metal spatula (d'oh!) and getting the spidery-looking polymerizing action.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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So, I should have clarified that you'd think bacon would make things nice and greasy and less sticky, but the carmelized sugar from the bacon sticks to the bottom of even a really well-seasoned cast iron pan. Your eggs will stick less if you do clean the cast iron pan a bit between your bacon and eggs.
 
                                        
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Thanks so much for that advice, Jocelyn.  I'll know that now about the bacon, and also will go out and get a metal spatula.  All I had was plastic, so that is what I was using. 
Seasoning on top of the stove will be so much less of a hassle than the oven thing, and less costly in energy.  I'll definitely try that.
Really appreciate your taking the time to respond.
 
Leah Sattler
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make sure also that when you cook you use a good amount of lard, butter or bacon grease. any moisture in the food will sort of boil off some of your seasoning. and understand too that it will just happen some times and you will have to scrape and do a quick reseason. for instance everytime I cook shrimp I have to redo the pan a bit. and remember to not clean the pan much unless something is stuck. wipe it down and let it be.
 
Ken Peavey
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To get a good season in a cast iron pan will take many months of regular use.  You won't get it where it needs to be in 5 treatments.  Don't give up.  I picked up a skillet at a yard sale for a couple bucks that is better than teflon.

Keep using the thing
Never use soap
Always dry it after cleaning
Always wipe it down with oil after drying
 
                        
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Here's a tip from a friend who collects old cast iron pans.  You can clean the crud off them by sticking them in a self cleaning oven.  Then season as suggested in this thread.
 
Ken Peavey
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Finally made it to the hardware store today.  On my list was a wire brush for the drill.  Put it in, took it to the sides and bottom of a 6" pan I got at a  yard sale a couple of years ago.  It was heavily encrusted with a layer of what can only be described as concrete.

Lo and Behold, Its a Griswold.  NO. 6 ERIE PA 699

Good little pan.
 
paul wheaton
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I'm pretty sure that that "concrete" would come off in a fire.  Way easier than all that work!


 
Ken Peavey
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I needed the brush to take some epoxy off a sink.  It's been raining on the new fire pit.  I'm pulling 12 hours shifts for a while.  I was eager and impatient.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
 
                        
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A cold pan will stick every time .. cast iron or store.

Put your pan on the unit on low and slowly heat for seven minutes .. then turn up to cooking speed and it will be non stick. I never put bacon in my cast iron fry pan .. only corn oil and cook eggs or potatoes or pancakes. Bacon goes into a cheap pan.

I have a gate pan that I think is 150 years old .. light weight and all it says is "10" and is about 12" on the flat inside. The Griswold society site is wonderful for learning about these pans.

Ebay with caution .. slant Erie .. I like a seven or larger .. heat ring .. no wobble .. February when everyone is broke is a good time to buy.


 
Leif Kravis
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was an executive chef 25 years, old school to protect seasoned steel or cast iron pans we woud warm them up add a tbsp of oil the a handful of coarse salt, this is rubbed with a rolled up non synthetic rag to scrub out the sticky spots and maintain your old skool teflon. it never ruins the seasoning.

cheers
 
Leif Kravis
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Ken, the easiest way to get rid of the ruined seasoning crud on an old cast iron pan is to burn it off
over a flame, a propane burner outdoors is a good way, the crud will turn to white ash and burn off clean leaving a clean metal surface when done, usually 30 - 45 minutes, then a light wire brushing and it is clean cast iron, ready to re-season, I've done this to a ton of pans. cheers
 
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