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Cast-Iron seasoning and care for dummies

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Wee! I got my first cast-iron for Christmas. Now I need the step-by-step on how to care for it.

My DH says we need to season it with Canola Oil and I say NO!! He doesn't understand the bad oils vs good oils as much as I'd like him to.

My brother said somethign about bacon grease, but said he wasn't sure about putting it all over the pan.

I could sure do bacon grease. I've got suet that I've yet to render, so I could use that. Also we have butter and coconut oil.

So how do I do it?

I knwo I'm not to clean it with soap, just water and possibly a nylon bristle brush to clean it.

Are there things I cannot cook in it? My mom says if I cook tomatoes in it, I will absorb the iron from that pan, but I thought acidic things make the seasoning go bad.

I'm so excited, but I so don't want to botch it up!! Can anyone hold my hand?
post #2 of 23
We were so bad at taking care of our cast iron that I finally bookmarked the care page from Lodge's website (the brand we have) and looked at it every single time we used a pan until it became second nature. Here's the link. That is for pre-seasoned cast iron, but should answer many of your questions.

We always season and reseason with coconut oil. My DH likes to make bacon in them and then use the grease to season them, but I don't like that taste in everything. Tomatoes will make it rust easier, but we just use it anyway and scour it with steel wool and reseason more often because we don't have any other pans to use specifically for tomatoes.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sihaya View Post
We were so bad at taking care of our cast iron that I finally bookmarked the care page from Lodge's website (the brand we have) and looked at it every single time we used a pan until it became second nature. Here's the link. That is for pre-seasoned cast iron, but should answer many of your questions.

We always season and reseason with coconut oil. My DH likes to make bacon in them and then use the grease to season them, but I don't like that taste in everything. Tomatoes will make it rust easier, but we just use it anyway and scour it with steel wool and reseason more often because we don't have any other pans to use specifically for tomatoes.
Oh thank you! We got lodge pre-seasoned, so that link is perfect! Glad I can use my CO, it's the one traditional oil that DH doesn't feel skeptic about. (He thinks I'm wacky that I want to render and use tallow and want to throw out vegetable oils).

Thanks!
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Ok, now, what are the cans and can nots as far as what I could/should/not cook in this. I plan on using it mostly for bacon and eggs and other meats, but what else can I use it for? Anything? Are there any no-nos? Could I make a stir fry in it?
post #5 of 23
I would use it for mostly greasy stuff like bacon for the first while till the seasoning is well set. After that it should be pretty non stick, although you may find that stuff like cheese and eggs still stick if you don't heat the fat up in the pan before using it. As far as absorbing the iron from the pan into your food - I don't know about you but that's a GOOD thing for me as I am low in iron! I cook pretty much anything in mine, and I have a cast iron wok to do stir frys in! Sometimes if I do something like a curry there's a little bit of residual taste in the next dish, but I rather like that aspect of it - adds variety
post #6 of 23
You can cook just about anything in it. Don't do what I did once though. I braised short ribs in a bottle of wine in my dutch oven. The iron and wine reacted and the sauce was practically black. The interior of the dutch oven probably needs seasoned again too. (Though I admit that I've never used the thing again, I was so torked off about that and the unrelated rust stain it left on the counter.)

All my frying pans though get tons of use and I even do tomatoes in them too, though more short term cooking, I don't leave them in there for hours.
post #7 of 23
Yeah, I made hassenpfeffer (a German rabbit dish) in my Lodge dutch oven and am still getting the sauce off of the top every time I wash it. Otherwise, I use it for everything.
post #8 of 23
Cast iron user and lover here!

I don't remember about first seasoning but it is probably something like coating it with oil and baking it for a while.

Mine is an antique Griswold brand frying pan and has been used for so many years it has its own non-stick surface! I use it for anything I would use a regular frying pan for as well as baking deep-dish pies and pizzas in it. If something's stuck on hard I will use some soap and water (save the sermon...I know you're not supposed to, but nothing works for scrubbing out burned stuff like soapy water) but wash/rinse it right away and oil it well immediately. With most uses I wipe it out and coat it with a little oil, inside and out. I have never had a problem with it!
post #9 of 23
with my lodge cast iron preseasoned pans, I didn't cook anything but "fried stuff" for about oh 3 months, and cooked those regularly. (pan fried meat and fish, fried eggs (though I scrambled the yolks before frying, but cooked like a fried egg not like scrambled), and lots and lots of caramelized onions and a few other such things. bacon if you eat it would be good).

at that point it was really nice and seasoned and I use it for some other stuff, but that's mostly what I use it for.
post #10 of 23
I got mine really well seasoned by cleaning it well, then frying up bacon in it, pouring off all put a thin layer and putting it into a 250 degree oven for a few hours. Wiped it out and it was good to go. Never tasted bacon-y to me.

It went from useless to amazing in a day!
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BedHead View Post
I would use it for mostly greasy stuff like bacon for the first while till the seasoning is well set. After that it should be pretty non stick, although you may find that stuff like cheese and eggs still stick if you don't heat the fat up in the pan before using it. As far as absorbing the iron from the pan into your food - I don't know about you but that's a GOOD thing for me as I am low in iron! I cook pretty much anything in mine, and I have a cast iron wok to do stir frys in! Sometimes if I do something like a curry there's a little bit of residual taste in the next dish, but I rather like that aspect of it - adds variety
Oh yeah, I'm definitely hoping to do that, it's just that I thought the acidic tomatoes would harm the pan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lastrid View Post
Yeah, I made hassenpfeffer (a German rabbit dish) in my Lodge dutch oven and am still getting the sauce off of the top every time I wash it. Otherwise, I use it for everything.
Hee hee, good to know. Hassenpfeffer reminds me of my grandpa, he used to call the easter bunny "hassenpfeffer"

Thanks everyone for the tips. I so want to treat the cast iron well.

Hookahgirl, you're in NE OH, too? Same here.
post #12 of 23
I have a skillet, and a new dutch oven I got for Christmas.

I season mine with Crisco and stick them in the oven when they are new or have been completely scrubbed.

I clean them with soap when something is really cooked on (rarely happens but once in a while) or there is a strong flavor/odor I need to remove. DH made chili in the new dutch oven - the chili smell was very hard to clean out...I ended up using dish soap first, then tried again with lemon juice and salt, then Sal Suds....then dried it, wiped it down with Crisco, and heated it up for about 30 minutes, and that all finally got rid of the chili smell.

I have never had a problem with using soap on mine, as long as I rinse them well and immediately dry them and coat them with Crisco and heat them up to re-season them. When I tried caring for the skillet without soap for a while, it built up some funky flavors. I make pancakes in that skillet, and the pancakes were tasting like onions and other dinner ingredients. Yuck.

There are a lot of ideas about not messing up cast iron - honestly my mom did not treat her cast iron specially and it's now almost 50 yrs old and going strong. She just hand washed it with dish soap and kept it coated with shortening so it didn't rust. No other special treatment.
post #13 of 23
I have used cast iron for years and constantly had problems keeping it seasoned properly, until I discovered TF and started frying in lard. Now it's great, even when I use soap; I don't even bother coating it with oil anymore.
post #14 of 23
I have cast iron sauce pans as well as frying pans. I also have glass sauce pans for fruit and acidic foods that I don't want to turn black. The iron in the cast iron will turn certain foods black--like applesauce. It can also put black flakes in mashed potatoes. But cooking acidic foods in cast iron will allow your body to absorb and use more of the iron that gets leached into the cooked foods. You will have to reseason the cast iron more often if you do a lot of water/liquid cooking in them.

This is how I season and care for my cast iron: http://www.kitchenemporium.com/info/castiron.html
post #15 of 23
you might not want to fry fish in them. i've done that twice and then for quite some time afterwards everything cooked in the pan tasted fishy.
post #16 of 23
Oh yeah, good call. I once sauteed some fish fillets in mine and the thing wasn't right again for days. Stainless steel for fish from now on!
post #17 of 23
The biggest thing w/ cast iron, IMO, is to just always start with oil, unless your cooking meat. Whether thats olive oil or coconut oil or butter, or bacon grease or whatever. Just start with oil. Cook in it, when your done cooking, rinse out, scrub to get off any burnt-on-bits, then set on the stove to dry for a couple mintes, and hang up. Ta-da! Done! I don't think I've ever wiped mine down with oil. Really. Ever.

Frying fish (or anything, tbh) is a wonderful way to season your pans, btw!! Just use lots of oil so it doesn't stick Course, thats true of anything. Cast iron is EASY! I Swear!!
post #18 of 23
Two of my cast iron pans are more than sixty years old, and have been used and abused by three generations, and they're okay. So I don't think cooking ANYTHING in them or treating them ANY way will ruin them. You might find yourself scouring off a bit of rust and reseasoning occasionally, that's all.

I have a large skillet, a small skillet, a stock pot, a wok, and a two-burner griddle, all of cast iron. I cook nearly everything on/in them. The only other pots I have a few stainless steel saucepans.

The iron level thing worries me, not for myself, but for DH. Men are much more likely to get toxic high levels of iron, because they don't lose blood through menstruation and childbirth. So DH has gone a few times and had his checked, and he's fine, but sometimes I do wonder.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post
The iron level thing worries me, not for myself, but for DH. Men are much more likely to get toxic high levels of iron, because they don't lose blood through menstruation and childbirth. So DH has gone a few times and had his checked, and he's fine, but sometimes I do wonder.
no worries, he could just go and donate blood which solves the excess iron problem.
post #20 of 23
I got a cast iron stove-top waffle maker. I tried it with coconut oil, and the waffle stuck to it. Any suggestions? Maybe I didn't heat it up enough?
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