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 Post subject: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 10:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:57 pm
Posts: 97
I figure someone else besides me might find this useful.

A friend came to me a few years back with an old 10" CI Skillet (her late mother's pan, circa 1940's) with LOTS of old buildup on it, and asked if there was anything I could do with it.

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So I fired up a 120kbtu cajun cooker gas burner, and essentially burned it clean, to a dull orange hot, cooled it down, and gave it a good wire brushing.

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Next I dropped the heat to medium, and using a rolled up bar towel soaked in canola oil I began rebuilding a patina of carbonized/polymerized oil ...

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And presto ... not too shabby.

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Hope that helps somebody.

Incidentally, proper care of cast iron cookware involves periodic use, cleaning up with warm soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge, then reheating the pan to drive any moisture out of the pores, giving it a light wipedown with a little oil, letting the pan cool again, and then buffing off all the excess oil, just like an old shoe. You also want to thoroughly preheat a CI pan just, from edge to edge, just to the smoke point, before cooking in it, as this helps 'set' the polish you left from the last use, and further grow the patina. If you preheat properly beforehand, and cleanup and repolish properly afterwards, you'll slowly build up a beautiful black non-stick patina as the years go by. Do NOT skip the buffing step, otherwise excess oils and residues can build up over time into the mess you see in the first picture of this thread.

Final tip: dont cook acidic foods in old fashioned cast iron, unless its porcelain coated.

I have an old 13" hand-hammered carbon steel Indian Karai pan that I got as a rusty hulk for $6 about 10 years ago, and reconditioned it into a real beauty ... lemme see if I can find a pic.


Last edited by ISI-Society on Thu May 02, 2013 10:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 10:37 pm 
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Been using it at least 1x/wk for about 10 years now.

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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 12:02 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:08 pm
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Nice work. I agree with all above except for soap. I've never used soap in a cast-iron pan or dutch oven. Always heat it up and deglaze it with water and/or boil with water to clean, then recoat with oil.


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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 12:11 am 
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I use warm soapy water to clean my cast iron and it is a beautiful shiny black. Soap never hurt cast iron or it's seasoning, look at ISI's wok. It's the other stupid things people do to them like soaking them, letting them sit dirty overnight or for days, or not drying them that ruins them. Not that much different than taking care of a good carbon knife.



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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 12:22 am 
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Very interesting for sure. I, along with Jeff (partly), have castigated any dishwasher that ever dare let soap touch any cast-iron. A well developed patina isn't going to break down before your eyes due to soap, but I can't imagine it doesn't begin to at a molecular level.

Nonetheless, great to hear a different method as there are usually more ways then one to skin a cat...



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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 12:50 am 
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Both methods work fine, as long as the end result is a pan that's properly clean and free of any visible food residue before re-oiling and buffing. The soap is only present for a minute or two at most, at the tail end of washing, before being fully rinsed and reheated, to give the fresh oil maximum purchase onto the patina, with no other residues in the way. Soap is fine as long as you use it sparingly, and briefly ... moisture, dirt and acidity are the real enemy of a good patina, not a brief encounter with diluted soap.

For the record, I also have a 15x17" CI flattop mounted in my outdoor grill that has never seen soapy water - I just burn it clean, wire brush, wipe it clean with a little oil, get it screaming hot before cooking (its in a grill with 74kbtu capacity), and oil it meticulously between uses, and its lasted me over 10 years so far. It will easily outlast the grill.

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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 1:01 am 
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Here's some salmon porn, from the same cooking session a few years back ... I used to host a culinary fora at the time, hence the pics. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 2:29 pm 
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You just made me damn hungry now......


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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 2:47 pm 
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** Culinary Digression **

Those are 6 oz boneless skinless pinwheels, belted with butcher's twine. Everyone loves them. Easy to cook too - start cooking at 50F internal, sear on CI flattop to 120-125F (just set inside), let rest to a perfect 130 med, and serve on potato buns with a little sweet onion or sliced tomato, and fresh lemon aioli.

Here's a pic on how to fabricate them. Just skin and depin a fillet, cut a crosswise slice about 1 1/3" thick (center of photo), butterfly horizontally into a long thin strip (center bottom), then roll up into a pinwheel and belt with twine (upper middle left). Easy peasy. Season with a little micrograted lemon zest and a light spritz of oil (meyer lemon if you have some handy), and salt it just before grilling.

BTW, my favorite parts of a salmon for grilling the "collar wings" (upper left) and the belly ridges (lower left) ... the former is a throw away part here in america that if cooked properly can be truly awesome.

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Here' a grilled wing - crispy skin, falling off the fin tender, and delightfully succulent:

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Sear em med-fast, then finish em slow until fully tender ... kinda like chicken wings.

Ok, back on topic.


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 Post subject: Re: Re-conditioning Cast Iron Pans
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 3:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 16, 2012 4:42 pm
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Location: USA... mostly.
ISI-Society wrote:** Culinary Digression **

...my favorite parts of a salmon for grilling the "collar wings" (upper left) and the belly ridges (lower left)...


Also Known As:

"collar wings" = Kama

"[salmon] belly ridges" = Harasu



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