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A Cast Iron Conundrum

edited August 14 in General

I'm having a problem seasoning my cast iron skillets and I'm hoping you can help. I have both and 8 and a 10-inch Lodge skillets and once they start to look dull, and as though they've lost their glossy finish, I re-season them. I follow the instructions on the lodge.com site yet they never come out of the oven looking right! They still have dull, blotchy spots and I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. I make sure to first scrub them with hot, soapy water and a stiff-bristled brush before drying them completely with paper towels. I've tried canola, vegetable and even unrefined coconut oil.

I'm really hoping you can help me and shed some light over what I'm doing wrong!

Comments

  • Thanks for your question. What is probably happening here is that, even though you are scrubbing the pan well, you are probably not getting all of the old seasoning off. You need to get it back down to the cast iron. Those dull blotchy spots are places you didn't clean completely. After the scrubbing, try coarse salt and really rub it in. You can use a paper towel. Some people use a potato cut in half. You really want to get it in there.

    Another trick when seasoning that you don't always see is to warm the pan first in the oven before adding the oil. Some feel this allows the "pores" to open up and accept the oil better. Then return it to the oven up side down with some foil underneath to catch the drippings. Every 10 minutes or so wipe it down and return to the oven. This will remove any droplets of oil that could build up and prevent the seasoning. It may take doing this more than once. Also, once you dry the pan do not let it sit. Move immediately to the seasoning process. Rust can form very quickly that you may not be able to see.

    Give this a try and see what happens. The most important thing is to make sure the pan is really, really clean of all the old gunk. Good luck.

    Deb at Milk Street

  • I am also unsure of myself when I season my cast iron pans. Each time after use, I will scrub the pans with sea salt. Afterward I will put it on the stove top, get the pan hot, and add the oil. I rub it around to cover the whole pan. I may leave it over the high heat for a minute or two. I will then let it cool down over an hour or two and store them. Does the oven method work better? Neither of the pans are 100% nonstick, but food generally comes off cleanly. I assumed it takes a while to get the nonstick surface. Thanks for your time! Love all the stuff y'all do!

  • Now that we have warm weather, another option that works quite well for cast iron and steel pans is to use the high heat of a gas grill for seasoning.

    I warm them first on the stove and coat them inside and out with flax seed oil. Then remove as much as possible with paper towels. Put them upside down on the gas grill and put it on high. Check it every thirty minutes or so and it should look "lacquered" after an hour or two. Turn off the grill and let it cool. Do Not try to take it out while it is still hot. Use, wash and repeat if it needs it.

    The main advantage is that smoking oil fumes indoors are quite unpleasant and this keeps the process outside.

    As a note, depending on the grill, you may need to turn it back from full on or check it more frequently. If I leave a pan on mine at full output for too long, I get a very clean pan with oil ash residue and no seasoning. In that case, I have a good starting point for total re-seasoning.

    Also, use cast iron to cook on the grill, I have thirteen inch Wagner skillet that I use for blackened fish. Preheat, add oil, bring to almost smoking and then add the fish coated with spices. after 3-5 minutes turn once, blacken the other side and remove. Turn off the grill and leave the pan to cool. I do that every few weeks over the summer and that pan is now solid black inside and out. It is my go-to pan on my cook top and as non-stick as my coated All-Clad.

    Never, ever use dish detergent or soap. Hot water, kosher salt, paper towels and oil are all that should be needed.

  • edited June 3

    Duplicate deleted

  • First of all, forget the oven! Have no idea why this method persists. It doesn't work. Here is what does work (and I have been doing this for 40 years.) Place the cast iron or carbon steel pan on a burner. Coat with an inexpensive oil (I use grapeseed). Rub the oil into the pan with paper towels. Now turn on the heat to medium-low and heat. Watch the pan carefully and CONTINUE TO BURNISH THE OIL INTO THE PAN as it heats. This is essential as you want the oil to get into the pores of the metal, not pool on top and create a sticky surface. When the oil starts to smoke, take it off the heat and then rub the interior surface hard with paper towels again. Let the pan cool and as it cools, you might want to rub with paper towels one or two more times if you see any oil on the surface. Now repeat this method at least 5 times for a new pan. Another trick that is essential. YOU HAVE TO USE A FAIR AMOUNT OF OIL when cooking with cast iron or carbon steel. You can't just add a teaspoon. This will help keep the surface non-stick. For example, when frying an egg in one of these pans, I will use a tablespoon or two or oil. Most of it remains in the pan and is not absorbed by the egg anyway. And NEVER EVER clean the pan with soap. Just wipe out the pan, leaving it coated with a thin film of oil. IF SOMETHING DOES STICK TO THE PAN, wipe out what you can, place the pan back on medium heat, add about a quarter cup of kosher salt and a similar amount of oil, and then, once the oil is hot, scrub with a dry scrubber (I use the OXO double grill pads that come with a handle or one of those green scrub pads for cleanup). The coarse salt will remove sticky bits and the oil will keep the pan seasoned. When done, just wipe out the pan with paper towels. Finally, if you feel your pan is no longer as non-stick as you like, re-season it using the first set of instructions above. This should do the trick!

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