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Cast iron care cookware problem  RSS feed

 
Johanna Ruth
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I just found this forum, so I'm a complete newbie.
I have a cast iron dutch oven. I used it last week to boil down a turkey carcass. When I finished and rinsed it, I wiped it with a cloth and the cloth got black. So I decided to do a round of seasoning. I wiped it with coconut oil and put it in a 350 degree oven. After several hours, it still had a brown/black film on the cloth. It isn't forming the 'cured' surface. Not sure why or what to do about it. None of the things I can find on seasoning cast iron cookware mention this. Any ideas?

Johanna
Western Mass Permaguild
 
David Livingston
steward
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Have you got a make or model name ?

David
 
Johanna Ruth
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Lodge 12DO
 
Jami McBride
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books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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Hi Johanna,

Coconut oil is the wrong oil to use for seasoning, it has a high temp smoke point, which makes it perfect for frying but not for seasoning.
High temps that chemically change oils to form a sealing bond is what CI-seasoning is all about. And there are several oils that will do the job very well.

I wrote an article on seasoning cast iron, which has a smoke point chart of various oils.
This may help - you can read it here http://gnowfglins.com/2010/03/12/how-to-season-cast-iron/
I wrote this article in 2010, and have learned much more on this topic since then One thing I've learned is that even with a great seasoning on your CI you will still get black/brown on a paper towel after wiping. This is because of old surface (above the seasoning) oil(s), small amounts of iron and bits of left over food particles and such, it's nothing to worry about. Any seasoning worth it's salt cannot be 'wiped off'. Also with today's modern CI (Lodge) the factory seasonings are not as good as what a person can achieve at home on their own. Some even consider the factory seasoning to be unhealthy. So bit of factory seasoning can be breaking down as you use the pan and showing up as black bits. Black is black and so without a chem lab it's hard to tell if blackened material is old seasoning, food, spent oil, ect. CI always gets better with use.

Just keep wiping, and using high temp oils when cooking, and low temp (smoke point) oils when seasoning your CI -

I hope this helps, but ask any questions you have if it's all still a bit confusing.
 
Johanna Ruth
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Thanks, Jamie! I'm glad to know that the black stuff doesn't mean it isn't seasoning. I have flax seed oil but it stinks when you heat it up. i can't open my windows. They're covered in insulating plastic. Should I wait until spring to do this?
 
Jami McBride
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Location: PNW Oregon
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You know I would wait.... and you can do a in-pan seasoning of sorts. This is what old-timers would do with bacon and other animal fat/grease, just letting the pan build up over time and use.

The only problem I see with this method is when cooking bread-base items. This you do in a dry pan.
We make English muffins, tortillas, crapes and pancakes all in a dry (seasoned) CI skillet, no fat/oil.
 
Johanna Ruth
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I don't make pancakes or english muffins in the dutch oven, anyway
 
Will Holland
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I don't remember what I've used in the past to season my pans, but it was probably some sort of coconut oil product. Now I've got lots of rendered chicken fat. Should I or should I not use the chicken fat?
 
Jami McBride
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There is a science to this 'seasoning' thing -

Here is the very basic gist of it: Cooking foods in oils/fats with a low smoke point causes the oil to over heat and become a carcinogen. However, these low heat/low smoke point are the very ones you want to use for seasoning, because you want to heat the pan/oil/fat high enough for long enough to chemically change the oil; causing it to seal the pan. Any not bonded with the pan then smokes off (reason for good ventilation when seasoning).

So never cook or heat flax-seed oil, it just isn't heat safe, however it is great for CI seasoning and for salads I go into all the details in my article.

Now as for using chicken fat for seasoning - well it won't be the best choice, because it has a smoke point of 375°F/190°C even higher than coconut oil. And animal fat is what's called a wet oil. In fact it's the same as duck fat. While Flax seed oil (Unrefined) is 225°F/107°C, and a drying oil. So is using chicken fat 'bad', I don't know but ...... some would say it's not the right choice, let me post a quote for you. At the end you can follow the link and read the entire article and decide for yourself.


Start With the Right Oil (It’s Not What You Think)

I’ve read dozens of Web pages on how to season cast iron, and there is no consensus in the advice. Some say vegetable oils leave a sticky surface and to only use lard. Some say animal fat gives a surface that is too soft and to only use vegetable oils. Some say corn oil is the only fat to use, or Crisco, or olive oil. Some recommend bacon drippings since lard is no longer readily available. Some say you must use a saturated fat – that is, a fat that is solid at room temperature, whether it’s animal or vegetable (palm oil, coconut oil, Crisco, lard). Some say never use butter. Some say butter is fine. Some swear by Pam (spray-on canola oil with additives). Some say the additives in Pam leave a residue at high temperatures and pure canola oil is best. Some say it doesn’t matter what oil you use.

They are all wrong. It does matter what oil you use, and the oil that gives the best results is not in this list. So what is it? Here are some hints: What oil do artists mix with pigment for a high quality oil paint that dries hard and glassy on the canvas? What oil is commonly used by woodturners to give their sculptures a protective, soft-sheen finish? It’s the same oil. Now what is the food-grade equivalent of this oil?

The oil used by artists and woodturners is linseed oil. The food-grade equivalent is called flaxseed oil. This oil is ideal for seasoning cast iron for the same reason it’s an ideal base for oil paint and wood finishes. It’s a “drying oil”, which means it can transform into a hard, tough film. This doesn’t happen through “drying” in the sense of losing moisture through evaporation. The term is actually a misnomer. The transformation is through a chemical process called “polymerization”.

The seasoning on cast iron is formed by fat polymerization, fat polymerization is maximized with a drying oil, and flaxseed oil is the only drying oil that’s edible. From that I deduced that flaxseed oil would be the ideal oil for seasoning cast iron.

As a reality check of this theory, I googled “season cast iron with flaxseed oil” to see what came up. The very first hit is a page written by a guy who seasons his cast iron cookware with linseed oil from the hardware store because it gives the hardest surface of anything he’s tried. (I’m not sure how safe that is; I don’t recommend it.) Below that were several sites selling traditional cast iron cookware from China, which they advertise as being “preseasoned with high quality flax oil”. I don’t know whether they really use food-grade flaxseed oil (which is expensive) or linseed oil from a hardware store. What’s significant is the claim. Seasoning with high quality flaxseed oil is something to brag about.

Seasoning Is Not Cooking: Different Principles Apply - http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/
 
alex Keenan
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The best oil for cast iron is one of the drying oils. These are oils used by painters to make oil based paints in the past. They form polymer chains when heated or cured.
They were also used to make flooring material before plastics.

Flax seed oil or Linseed oil (same Plant) is the best
Apply light coat and wipe off leaving light residue, then bake at 350
Do this several times
You will have a coating that lasts and is one of the best non-stick coatings if you put oil in the pan and get it hot before you use it.

You can also get good results from walnut oil.

 
John Pollard
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Location: Ozarks
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Johanna Ruth wrote:I just found this forum, so I'm a complete newbie.
I have a cast iron dutch oven. I used it last week to boil down a turkey carcass. When I finished and rinsed it, I wiped it with a cloth and the cloth got black. So I decided to do a round of seasoning. I wiped it with coconut oil and put it in a 350 degree oven. After several hours, it still had a brown/black film on the cloth. It isn't forming the 'cured' surface. Not sure why or what to do about it. None of the things I can find on seasoning cast iron cookware mention this. Any ideas?

Johanna
Western Mass Permaguild


I've never been able to get my dutch oven seasoned right because of using it for too many things that are not oil based. Boiling water in cast iron just seems to cook off the seasoning and it's not really recommended. (although lodge doesn't mention it, probably because they might sell a few less) Now maybe if you can get enough coats of seasoning on there you could boil with it now and then.

And yes, that black film will make things taste funny. It will ruin bacon. I take a scrubby to mine using the hottest water I can stand after every use to get everything off and then give it a good dry and quick seasoning to store it without it rusting.

Now my frying pans are seasoned beautifully and I can fry something up with no or minimal oil now. I can even flip an egg in my little one without using a spatula it's so non stick. I do rub a little butter on it before breaking the egg into it.
 
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