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Author Topic: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question  (Read 13207 times)

Offline ScottK

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Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« on: November 27, 2011, 01:06:42 AM »
I asked the question in the show notes, but never got a response from anyone.  Paul and Jack talk about cast iron skillets, the ins-and-outs, and why Lodge cookware is supposedly terrible.  But they didn't mention the enameled stuff out of France (Stuab and Le Creuset).  From everything I have researched this stuff seems to give you the best of both worlds if you can handle the price tag.  I went and checked the link that Jack had to Paul's site, but still nothing directly talking about these enameled products versus the 'pre-seasoned' products from Lodge.  I wouldn't trust the French for anything other than cooking, so I am willing to give their cookware the benefit of the doubt unless somebody has good data saying otherwise.  That being the case I would only trust the stuff made directly in France versus companies making enameled products in Asia.  It could be just as good; you just hear too many quality control stories and such coming from Asia.  Anyway, any opinions?

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 02:40:02 AM »
I wouldn't trust the French for anything other than cooking,

:rofl:  quoted for truth!  +1

in all seriousness, this is a great question.  I have just started using cast iron - I found 3 skillets at an antique store in June, and they are the best!  I think they are wagner.  I recently got a waffle iron too, and that is quickly becoming a favorite.  I want to start using cast iron for deep frying and general sauce pan type duties, but am unsure about going an enameled route.

still laughing, btw  :rofl:
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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 08:27:04 AM »
If I remember correctly, the point Paul and Jack were making was that any coating is going to come off, either as scraped-up bits or in microscopic amounts absorbed into food, so you’re better off having it be some compound of iron and cooking grease, rather than teflon or other non-stick coating.  Ultimately, you end up with a worn and now sticky pan, and those bits of coating end up being eaten.  For either reason, I’d steer clear of anything but iron.

Now about Lodge, it’s not that terrible, and they discussed its shortcoming – a rough cooking surface – and how it smooths down with use.  That’s what happened to my frying pans (both Lodges), and they are beautifully smooth now.  I think what Paul was saying is that it’s worthwhile to go get a nice old machined pan on Ebay or at the flea market, if you can find one.  BTW, there are nice pictures at Paul’s site (http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp) of an old but unused griddle which shows the machining marks as they came from the factory.

I wonder how much it would cost for a local machine shop to mill a few quick swipes over the inside of a new Lodge?  At $18–$35 retail for the pan as-is, it’d be a quick $20 add-on I’d be happy to pay.  (Were I in the market for a new frying pan, which I’m not.  These things last ‘bout forever.)
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Offline Cedar

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 10:31:42 AM »
I have used cast iron since 1996 and I love it. When it is seasoned correctly, it is better than any other non-stick out there and in fact was the original non-stick. I have NO Teflon in my house other than one cupcake pan. I quit using Teflon when I was working in the vet clinics due to reports coming in that it was killing housebirds. I only use stainless steel and cast iron now.

Try not to get the 'pre-seasoned' cast iron ones, if you do, grab the steel wool and some elbow grease.
That stuff is YUCK!

The best way to season your cast pots and pans? Cook a whole chicken in them. NEVER use soap, just hot water and a plastic scrubbie or a dish scrubber. Takes a bit to wrap your brain around not using soap, but after your pans darken, fill in the micro-holes and become non-stick you don't mind anymore. I used to season them with oil and heat in the oven and all that.. SMOKEY! Like fill the whole house with smoke where the alarm is going off and you have to open all your house windows. Just cook the whole chicken with skin. If you can find a fairly fat chicken, all the better.

After you wash them, put them on a hot burner for a minute and then turn off the heat to dry them. I then also put in a splash of cooking oil (olive) and then leave it in my oven so it doesn't collect dust.

My brother was going to toss their cast iron as it got rusty on a camping trip. No!!!!!!!!!!! So salvageable! Light scrubbing with steel wool... ugh.. sandblast if severe, and cook your whole chicken.

The porcelain coated ones are awesome, but they can chip and DO NOT use harsh abrasives on them, you will take the porcelain coating off.  I have  Le Creuset dutch oven.

The non-porcelain coated ones, the ORIGINAL, does have particles that come off and are actually good for you. Over time bits of iron get into your diet. Especially good for women.

They say something can happen with cooking foods like tomatoes in cast iron, but I have never had a problem. I use them from cooking pretty much anything, including breads, pineapple upside down cake... the chicken and such.

Yeah, you can take off the seasoning (that you created, not the manufacturers icky stuff) if you don't follow the rules, but it is pretty easy to make right again. When it is seasoned correctly, it is NOT sticky as someone suggested. Just a nice flat, smooth black surface.

If you can find it, Griswold makes the best I am told, but I do perfectly fine with my older Lodge. DO NOT get the wooden handled ones.

Cedar
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 10:40:42 AM by Cedar »
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Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 11:23:42 AM »
NICE...

Here is a thread I can definitely throw down some knowledge on.

I started using cast iron a few years ago and KNEW NOTHING about it. And went through all the stuff the newbies go through trying to figure it out.

For starters — my first cast iron pan was a Lodge. And YES — THEY SUCK — but the pan itself is great, the pre-seasoning coating SUCKS BALLS. I can see people lined up in some factory with respirators and smocks, spray painting them with this garbage as they come down the line!!! And yes — the cooking surface is terribly rough.

Put it this way — if you try and cook an egg on a new Lodge cast iron pan GOOD LUCK WITH THAT! Unless you like em burned and scrambled hahaha...

The quality of steel is fine, it is the coating that makes them horrible. I see friends of mine with pans of such poor steel quality they bought at discount shops that eh… I think they would look like a Nestle Bar if you cracked one in half and saw all the air bubbles inside LOL.

If your pan does NOT make a nice "BOOOOooooooooong" sound (like a gong) with a little bit of reverb when you hit it and instead makes a dull THUD with no reverb then the steel is some chinese bubble-filled garbage that probably will not last very long before it just cracks from stress.

OK NOW — I have several cast iron pans and stainless and egad... a couple of teflon based ones (one very high quality and one flat grill my girlfriend loves to death that her grandma gave her). Otherwise I am stainless and cast iron all the way (or pyrex etc).

The ABSOLUTE BEST cast iron you can possibly get is the Griswold cast iron pans. The company is no longer in business but I see them on Craigslist ALL THE TIME (and a regular #9 frying pan will sell for $50 - $100 on there). I live in Pittsburgh and Griswold was based in Erie so they are easy to find here. Griswold machined the surfaces of their pans to a superb smoothness which helps greatly. However, in time and lots of use, any pan will eventually become smooth if you use it correctly.

THE VERY FIRST THING YOU WANT TO DO whenever you get a cast iron pan is completely remove all seasoning and get it down to the bare metal. I bought 2 RUSTY Griswold pans at thrift stores for about $5 each and it is rare that a pan will have so much rust it cannot be cleaned off.

EZ-OFF oven cleaner is the number one easiest way to clean off a pan. SOAK it in oven cleaner, and leave it inside of a plastic bag overnight. Wipe off all the cleaner, dissolved seasoning, and rust. You might need to repeat this process 3 or 4 times before you get it all. However you won't get it 100% this way.

The next step is to take steel wool and elbow grease to remove whatever bits of seasoning are left on the pan. Then — once you do this IMMEDIATELY — and I mean IMMEDIATELY throw it on a hot gas burner of your stove to dry it. You will see that it will almost start to rust immediately after taking it out of the sink! This helps stop that process.

Wipe as much iron dust as you can from the pan and then the next part is up to you. THE ABSOLUTE BEST OIL to use for seasoning is bacon grease. Whenever I cook bacon and I know I am going to re-season some pans I save the grease. When you use bacon grease, it forms the hardest, slickest cooking surface in the carbonization process.

You can also use Crisco (any LARD based oil which is solidified at room temperature is better than an oil that does not solidify at room temperature). The thicker the oil the better…

As soon as the pan is dry, (I use a rubberized basting brush to do this, but you can use anything that works) — coat the entire pan with oil. You do not want to leave a coating so thick that it lumps up, but it should not be super thin either. You want an EVEN coating, and you want to make sure any excess drips off the pan. Once you carbonize the oil, any place where the oil was too thick is going to peel right off the pan. It is a bit of an art form getting the perfect thickness.

After coating the pan with grease and giving it a shake or two to make sure to get any excess off the pan, you should already have your oven pre-heated to 500 degrees. Place a layer of foil on the BOTTOM oven rack to catch oil drippings from the pan. Place the pan on the top rack upside down (important) and let it bake in there for at least an hour. When the smoke stops filling my kitchen — I usually let it bake for another half hour or so and then turn off the oven and let it cool gradually.

When it is cool enough to pull out of the oven with your bare hands — you have a BRAND NEW freshly seasoned pan MUCH MUCH MUCH better than that spray-paint garbage they throw on the Lodge cookware.

MAINTENANCE

You may notice that the non-stick properties are not quite where you think it should be at this point — especially if you just re-seasoned a new Lodge pan. No big deal, USE THE PAN and USE IT A LOT.

NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER use ANYTHING but a METAL SPATULA (preferably stainless) on that pan (or metal utensils). SCRAPE THE HELL OUT OF IT while you cook.

If something DOES stick, SCRAPE it off with the spatula. Unlike a teflon pan, cast iron is the opposite as you WANT TO scrape up the surface as you cook.

What this accomplishes is 2 things — it forces food particles into the small "holes" of the pan, AND scrapes off the iron "ridges" at the same time. The constant scraping with a spatula over time smooths out the surface of your pan DRAMATICALLY.

In fact — because I have used my LODGE pan more than the Griswold I own the LODGE pan actually works better for eggs and sticky things! I have gotten my Lodge pan worn so smooth and with so many layers of seasoning that nothing really sticks to it anymore… But it took over a YEAR of constantly using it before it got this good!

Which leads me to part 2 of maintenance.

NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER clean your pan with soap. EVER.

If food is stuck on the pan which happens sometimes, SCRAPE it off with a METAL spatula. If it is REALLY BAD, heat up a pan of water to boiling on the stove and then scrape away once the water is hot and the food starts to loosen. Then make sure you dump out the water and set it on the hot burner until all the water is evaporated. Standing water on your cast iron is a big no-no.

Not much out there will destroy your pan — but any mistakes you make like that will cause you to have to re-season it.

Never drop a pan into cold water if it is hot, that COULD destroy your pan from the temperature change and warping of the iron which will break before it flexes.

Now at some point you will start to wear off seasoning, or you can scrape off a chunk of seasoning here and there… OR you can take the pan camping and leave it in a box with too much moisture and seasoning wears off with rust showing up etc.

If it is just a spot of rust on the handle you can scour that area off, coat the ENTIRE pan with oil, and bake it at 500 degrees again. The NEW layer of seasoning will just build on top of what is there, and that rusty spot will be protected. My handles typically get worn off and I end up scouring them down and seasoning the pan. Every time you season the pan without removing the existing layer your pan will get better and better. Make sure you cook a bunch with it between seasonings though.

If your pan gets neglected and turns to RUST on the cooking surface then unfortunately you need to take it down to bare metal and re-do the whole process again. But no worries, the pan will still be better than when it was new because the surface will be smoother to begin with (especially a Lodge pan).

One more item of note. ALWAYS wipe your pan clean when you are done cooking… AS SOON as you are done cooking.

Keep a few dish towels SPECIFICALLY FOR CAST IRON (as they will turn black with crud) and use them to wipe the pans. Wash these in the washing machine as necessary and just keep those towels specifically for cast iron wipe-downs. I typically scrape as much as I can out of the pan with the spatula and then use a towel for the rest. However, depending on what you cooked, you could completely gunk up a towel in one meal clean-up (i.e., biscuits and gravy LOL).

If you use a paper towel EVER — you will be sorry as paper fibers will cover your entire pan. It must be a cloth and terry-cloth is not very good. Use dish towels that are not terry-cloth and won't leave fibers all over the pan.

ALSO — take a spot of olive oil and coat your entire pan with just a touch of oil when you are done. This keeps any exposed areas like the handle and such getting rusty between uses. Trust me, cast iron rusts so fast you can literally watch it with your eyes without a time lapse camera. That is the main battle you fight with cast iron. Olive oil is fine for that but even though you can use olive oil to season a pan, the low smoke point and thin-ness of the oil does not make a good surface.

I've taught several friends how to use cast iron who had no clue (one was WASHING their pan CLEAN with soap and water down to the bare metal and then wondering why it rusted so fast LOL… Others had bought the Lodge garbage and just started using it out of the box, wondering why everything sticks to it and then gave up).

I typically season my cast iron stuff every few months as the seasoning wears down with heavy use. And I almost ALWAYS need to season my pans after a camping trip because cooking over an open flame tends to burn the seasoning right off on the bottom of the pans or handles. The harsher environment and moisture of a camp trip they get exposed to means that if I keep them in my kitchen box too long upon return they need a good deal of maintenance.

However, the Griswold company went out of business in 1957! And my best pan is a Griswold, so my FRYING pan is MUCH older than ME.

I assume my great great grandchildren will be using my cast iron pans if they don't turn out to be complete morons (or if we still have a society by then).
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 11:41:16 AM by Adam B. »
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Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 11:33:13 AM »
Also, while CHUNKS of metal in your food is obviously undesirable. Doctors recommend that anemic patients cook on cast iron because it introduces more iron into their bloodstream.

Therefore any particles of metal that do end up in your food are desirable and not TOXIC like Teflon. And I've NEVER had "metal taste" to my food no matter how hard I have to scrape something that might get stuck LOL. In fact NOTHING tastes better than when I use my cast iron pan. The only thing we use our stainless steel high quality teflon coated pan for are things like hamburger helper etc and we NEVER touch it with anything but a rubber spatula. There is not a scratch on that thing after 4 years of use. Not to say I haven't eaten some Teflon but alas I eat enough fast food that THAT will kill me long before microscopic Teflon particles ever will haha.
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Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 11:45:41 AM »
A cast iron dutch oven would be a good bet for deep frying (looking at that one post). I cook a lot of stuff in the dutch oven, using it as a big stock pot, or even baking biscuits over a campfire in it. A friend of mine has a tripod with a chain on it to hang a grill from, and hanging the dutch oven that way over the fire gives you a lot of control, but unless you are willing to go to the trouble of putting coals on the upside down lid expect your grands biscuits on a camp trip to get blacker on the bottom hahaha.

There are so many things I could cook in the dutch oven (and not by pulling the blankets over my girlfriends head) — that I haven't really even begun to use that thing to its potential.

I think the enameled stuff would be OK, especially for things in the oven etc. It is the even heat distribution of cast iron which makes it so good for cooking.
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Offline 4bull

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2011, 11:50:25 AM »
I have bought truck loads of cast iron , the worst ones look like lumpy clubs. To start over i through them in a big brush pile and burn it . the next day i dig them out of the cold ashes. wash and oil ,you can put them through a self cleaning oven cycle.
  They are magic to cook in , and i have sold 1 grizwold skilet 279. book value ,yes there is a book on skilets .
The new skilets look green to me, and don't sound right when you ring on them. All those cargo ships ,haul our scrap iron back to asia as balist ? Cheeply.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 12:26:23 PM »
Yup those crappy green ones are exactly what im taking about. If the pan does not ring when scraped with a metal spatula and instead sounds like a dull scrape then that's made from that world trade center steel we sent to China while some slaves blow bubbles into it while being cast to further reduce the steel costs.

The lodge pan I have seems to be good quality steel just has a rough surface.

They sell those mummy green ones which are probably just barely coated with enougb oil to keep from rusting at the camping section of the department stores for stupid ass yuppies to buy like my friends.

It's hard to find good camp equipment at the camping section of those stores lol but good deals can be found.
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Offline ScottK

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2011, 01:26:39 PM »
Thanks for all the replies, good info and support for much of what Paul and Jack talked about.  However, as I have seen some answer, good working knowledge with enameled cast iron and enamels possible issues seems to be elusive.

The problem with getting the old stuff is that there is only so much of it out in the world these days, and many people don't go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.  Many people would gladly plunk down the money for a very expensive pan they can 1-click and buy on Amazon versus hunting the web for the pans in many of the discussions about cast iron cooking.  Jack even mention this phenomenon in one of his "5 minutes with Jack" posting.  You can get people to give you 15 bucks before they will give 15 minutes.  That is the issue I feel as preppers we need to make to the rest of the world, solutions that anybody can pickup almost instantly if they want a new condition product.  We are not some type of elitist with knowledge/items the rest of the world can't get their hands on because of whatever reason.  We can find high quality products that will get people using better products in their everyday life.

Many of the stories of people hunting for the right pan, getting it re-seasoned, and such almost takes on this epic storytelling ability; when what you are really wanting to accomplish is better cooking, not really hardware prepping and care that has you constantly watching to make sure the kids don't put soap on your pans.  My house uses all stainless steel cookware, no non-stick anything.  It is full proof in many aspects, and people that have problem getting things like eggs and potatoes from sticking simply need to pay attention to their cooking technique; it isn't the pan!

So, as far as my knowledge of enameled iron, it is the exact opposite of using metal spatulas.  You use only wood utensils to keep from chipping.  Most of enameled iron cookware that I have seen chips in are on the outside where they get dings from encountering the rest of the world not your food.  So no big deals in my mind.  That brings me back to the original question, does the enamel really have any risk just short of sounding like a tinfoil hatter?

Offline Cedar

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2011, 01:30:24 PM »
That brings me back to the original question, does the enamel really have any risk just short of sounding like a tinfoil hatter?

I know the old clawfoot tubs can have lead in the porcelain. So depends on where they are made I guess?

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Offline LdMorgan

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2011, 04:55:29 PM »
I know the old clawfoot tubs can have lead in the porcelain. So depends on where they are made I guess?

Cedar

Don't worry at all about lead in the porcelain of old clawfoot bathtubs. If there was any lead there in the first place, every atom of it that could be leached out of the surface has probably been long since leached.

If a few atoms remain, diluting them in 40 gallons of bathwater will make sure you don't absorb enough through your skin to be detectable, much less grossly harmful.

In fact, you could probably drink all that bathwater for forty years and still not get enough lead to show up in a lock of hair.

(Bien boire!)

Back to cast iron, etc.

Skip the enamel ware unless pack weight is a major concern. One little chip, and it starts rusting. Pretty soon you have a hole in your cookware.

Never use teflon cookware. Never. If you have some in your house, eliminate the temptation to use it by bashing it with a sledge and tossing it out the door.

Teflon breaks down at normal cooking temperatures (and above!) into very dangerous compounds. The little bits that scrap off into your food can wind up in your kidneys and do all kinds of harm.

The fact that you only get a little at a time means you don't feel the damage--but it's there, and it will get steadily worse.

Scrap out all your Aluminum cookware. Light metal poisoning can be just as bad as heavy metal poisoning.

Cook in cast iron or Stainless Steel.

Oh yeah: And don't microwave your food in plastic dishes. In fact, get rid of your plastic dishes, and dine in a civilized manner.

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Offline Cedar

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2011, 06:28:03 PM »
Never use teflon cookware. Never. If you have some in your house, eliminate the temptation to use it by bashing it with a sledge and tossing it out the door.

Scrap out all your Aluminum cookware.

Yeppers, in total agreement. Mom thinks I am ridiculous for thinking that, but that is fine, let her.

Oh yeah: And don't microwave your food in plastic dishes. In fact, get rid of your plastic dishes, and dine in a civilized manner.

She also thinks I am ridiculous for refusing to own a microwave.

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Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2011, 07:13:46 PM »
I go through that with my girlfriend. She gets pissed off when I reheat pizza in the oven... On my um... PIZZA STONE... And even though I have a couple Teflon pieces left I will never buy another one.

ONE Teflon piece -- the high end stainless sauteed pan I was extremely angry when the example on the shelf was stainless inside and out -- and the box underneath said stainless then I get home after getting it as a gift and did not have the receipt and open it up and it is covered in Teflon. It is a very high end sauteed pan though and no scratches or visible wear like the old Tfal stuff I used to have.

If it did not have Teflon on it this would be a lifetime saute pan and probably multigenerational.

No way would I ever buy one of these aluminum pots or pans they just look nasty.
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Offline TexGuy

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2011, 12:23:11 AM »
Griswold was bought out by Wagner, which was bought out by American Culinary.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2011, 02:43:00 AM »

....ONE Teflon piece -- the high end stainless sauteed pan I was extremely angry when the example on the shelf was stainless inside and out -- and the box underneath said stainless then I get home after getting it as a gift and did not have the receipt and open it up and it is covered in Teflon. It is a very high end sauteed pan though and no scratches or visible wear like the old Tfal stuff I used to have. ....


I think there is a solution to your problem.

Sand all the Teflon off.

Then you'll have the pan you wanted in the first place. Either have it sandblasted, or have it buffed bright with a steel wool pad on a orbital buffer (car polisher).

If you do it yourself (which shouldn't be hard) just make sure you keep it wet. You don't want a lot of Teflon dust getting in your lungs.

It's impossible for the Teflon to penetrate the surface of the Stainless Steel--and it's much softer than the steel as well. So all it can do, at most, is adhere. Which means it can be cut/worn away by anything harder than it is--like steel wool.



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Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2011, 08:14:52 AM »
I thought of that. It is not that cheap-ass teflon junk you see on the cheap-end "non-stick" pans that just flakes off as soon as you start using it. I've been using this thing for probably 3 years now and it looks and cooks as if it were brand new (the cooking surface anyway). Other non-stick pans I owned in the past, even ones considered decent quality showed wear within a year.

It still has the slickness where nothing whatsoever will stick to it as if it were brand new.

To be honest, it is the least of my concerns anyway considering there are so many poisons in our environment and my poor diet is going to kill me off way before some Teflon will LOL.

I will eventually replace it with a nice good quality stainless saute pan like I thought this was going to be and get rid of it. I definitely won't be buying another "non-stick" surface and I tend to use my cast iron for most of what I cook anyway. The stuff I do end up cooking in the non-stick pan tends to be crappy food that will kill me anyway LOL.

Gotta pick your battles this day and age, if I spent 100% of my time worried about everything I did detrimental to my health — that would be detrimental to my health in and of itself.

We just keep making steps toward the way we want to and should live but it is not something most people can do or afford to do all at once. When I look at how we are now compared to 10 years ago, I am amazed I lived as long as I have LOL.
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annestacey

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2011, 06:39:13 PM »
I just recently bought a Lodge cast iron skillet and now I'm overwhelmed by all this information.  I have to go back and read this all again but if someone can provide the short version of how to get this thing ready to use, that would be helpful.  I just emailed my Mom to tell her to please leave her cast iron skillet to MEEEEEE and not my sister.  I'm her favorite.  :)

Thox Spuddy

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2011, 09:01:56 PM »
I have a hand-me-down dutch oven from the 1800's, we use it weekly.
We season our dutch oven with beeswax instead of lard.
Chinese cast iron cookware might contain lead.
Women who eat food cooked in cast iron do not need iron supplements.
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Offline TexGuy

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2011, 09:43:45 PM »
We season our dutch oven with beeswax instead of lard.

Bingo! I'm glad someone finally said this. My best two skillets are from China but they were coated in wax. Most people have no clue about wax ... which melts each time heated and proves most theories about seasoning cast iron as being wrong!!!

Sorry "Adam B.", but metal utensils or a 'machined surface' is not the best way to go. OK, you seem fine with it, and I know others who are fine with it ... FINE :-) It seems some prefer it that way.

I just recently bought a Lodge cast iron skillet and now I'm overwhelmed by all this information.  I have to go back and read this all again but if someone can provide the short version of how to get this thing ready to use, that would be helpful.  I just emailed my Mom to tell her to please leave her cast iron skillet to MEEEEEE and not my sister.  I'm her favorite.  :)

Cover it in oil (any kind is fine) and bake it in the oven upside down at over 400* for over an hour. Then let it cool until you can touch it. Yes it will smoke up the house. After that the rest can be done on the stove top (although repeating the process in the oven is the best). Use the large burner, heat your pan on 2.5 to 3, low heat but enough to get it hot. You want to still be able to touch the handle. Cover the bottom in oil (any fat), then turn the burner to high (setting 9 or 10) until the fat has burned off. Turn the exhaust fan on to draw the smoke out. Electric burners have a cool spot in the middle, gas burners have a hot spot in the middle, so move the pan around every once in a while so hot heat gets to all of it (this can also be done on a "fish" cooker outside). Then let the pan cool until you can touch it. This needs to be repeated over and over until about 1/16 inch of burnt oil is built up. I think it takes about 20 times. Then you will have a smooth non stick surface on your skillet (I personally think only the skillets need to be non-stick, the rest {pots, dutch ovens} only need one coat to stop them from rusting).

If you can't do it 20 times, then only cook bacon or sausage the first month and when you clean just wipe your skillet with a paper towel then heat it up on the burner to burn the fat off. Before a month is up doing this daily you will have a non-stick surface.

Lodge is the best seller in the US, it only has a bad rap because people do not know how to put the non-stick surface on it. It takes a little time but if it is done right it lasts forever. You can even use metal on it after the non-stick surface is there if you are careful.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2011, 12:37:18 AM »
All this talk made me go buy a used griswold off of ebay. :)
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Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2011, 01:14:47 AM »
That beeswax idea — I've never heard of people doing that, but I am not an expert. I just read a lot and followed what I read and over the few years I've been using them I came up with what seems to work best for me.

The metal spatula on the surface worked good with a Lodge cast iron pan that had a very rough cooking surface. It is quite smooth now compared to when it was new and it takes a lot for food to stick to it now.

Heaven forbid you ever use those "egg beaters" "fake" eggs LOL — my god those things stick to everything but my teflon saute pan LOL. REAL eggs don't stick at all, but here and there I use the egg beaters for whatever reason and I have yet to get any of my cast iron to the point where those things slide off. I think that is the ultimate test of whether you have a true non-stick surface formulated.

I am going to look up this whole beeswax thing though. Since it is natural wax I can see that being a good idea. Bacon grease or a thick lard-like solidified oil seems to work very well when I bake it at 400+ for an hour or so. Any lighter weight oil seems to not form as hard of a surface when it carbonizes in the oven.
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Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2011, 11:27:38 AM »
Wow!  Thanks for this thread.  I have one old 10" cast iron chicken fryer skillet from my folks but would like to get a few other sizes.  Thanks to this thread, I will be a more educated shopper while browsing thrifts.

My "go to" pan for several years has been a 12" Titanium bonded cast aluminum skillet from Germany.  Titanium is naturally non-stick (much better than Teflon) and cannot be scratched with standard metal utensils.  Does anyone else have experience with those, or info on them?  The only place you can see bare aluminum is the milled bottom surface that sits on the burner.  Four years of daily use and still not a single scratch.

I'd like to find a 12" cast iron just like it.

~TG
 

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2011, 11:51:32 AM »
The only titanium cookware I've known about is the stuff the yuppies buy at REI to go car camping for a weekend (that was meant for ultra-light backpacking hahaha).

I wonder if a set of titanium backpacking gear would have good non-stick properties in addition to weighing almost nothing after reading that. I won't be buying any though any time soon to find out as I already have more good backpacking cookware than I need. Those dang REI garage sales where you can get a $70 set for $15... LOL.
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Offline 4bull

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2011, 12:03:08 PM »
I see good skillets in the junk yards, beside dumpsters, yard sales there everywhere.
I have a kettle that is rusty on the in side, bad. So i decided to just use it for water on the wood stove.
Thanks for the bees wax fact ,ill try it out ,i have lots of wax.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2011, 01:48:57 PM »
How rusty is it? Is it cast iron? You can take it down to bare metal with steel wool, and if it is really bad a wire brush on a buffing tool would work if it is worse than surface rust.

Then seasoning it will seal the surface up to prevent it from happening again.

I've picked up cast iron pans that were VERY rusty (still surface rust though) — literally red and crusty — and gotten them down to bare metal, and seasoned them — they turned out fine.
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Offline 4bull

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2011, 06:03:27 PM »
I may clean it up ,but its pretty bad rust. its a humitaphier for now , if i clean it up ill use bees wax on it for shure.

Offline ttubravesrock

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2011, 06:10:34 PM »
After reading this, I need to go go take an inventory of all my cast iron.  We are about to get a warm front where I could open all the windows long enough to reseason them.  I can't do that when it is -30F.  And since I live in a one-room cabin, I can't just smoke out the kitchen and keep it seperate from all the other rooms.

If I had an outdoor fire going, do you think I could season it using that?  Put it upside down on a rack just above the embers for an hour, then raise the rack to do the seasonings?

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2011, 07:08:50 PM »
If you can't do it 20 times, then only cook bacon or sausage the first month and when you clean just wipe your skillet with a paper towel then heat it up on the burner to burn the fat off. Before a month is up doing this daily you will have a non-stick surface.

Yeah first of all, if I smoke up the apartment, the smoke alarms will go off and that's not a good option.  Doing it 20 times would take me forever so I need to use the shortcut version.  I cook bacon maybe 1-3 times per week so if I just do that, I can probably get the surface done in about 2-3 months maybe.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Episode 787 - Cast Iron Question
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2011, 11:35:45 PM »
Yeah it definitely makes the smoke alarms go off. I always pulled the batteries out whenever I cook my pans, but I tend to do everything at once, and even take the pans that don't need it and give them a coating just so that it all happens together.
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