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Nov 23, 2007 08:40 AM

HELP! with cast iron griddle!

we have purchased a burger van that has a cast iron griddle, it was in use up to 1 week ago, i rubbed it with a little oil like the lady said too, left it on a low heat, it smoked like hell for a few minutes, but my burgers and bacon were all black! everything turned black, its rusted slightly round the edges, plsssssss any ideas on how to remove/clean it so the food dont swim in black!? many thanks

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  1. Seasoning and care of a black cast iron pot according to Louisiana Chef John Folse

    Seasoning, the process whereby the pores in cast iron absorb oil and create a natural non-stick finish, is not complicated and shouldn’t discourage first-time cast iron users.

    Directions: Seasoning a New Cast Iron Pot

    1. In order to start the process, wash, rinse and thoroughly dry the new skillet or dutch oven to remove the protective wax coating. I recommend drying the utensil over a low flame to remove all moisture from the porous metal, 2-3 minutes.
    2. Put two tablespoons of liquid vegetable oil in the utensil. Do not use saturated fat, such as butter or bacon fat, because this fat will become rancid during storage. Use a paper towel to coat the entire surface of the utensil with the oil, inside and out -- including all corners, edges and lids.
    3. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Line a large baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and turn the utensils upside down, including the lid, to prevent the oil building up on the inside of the pan.
    4. Bake the utensils for 1 hour, turn off the heat and allow the skillet or dutch oven to cool completely in the oven with the door closed, 4-6 hours.
    5. Remove from oven and wipe with a paper towel. This completes the seasoning process, and you are ready to use your nicely seasoned cast iron skillet.

    In addition to seasoning, the general care of cast iron is also important. By following these easy steps, you can ensure your cast iron pieces will be around to serve you for a long time to come.

    Directions: General Care of a Cast Iron Pot

    1. Always wash with a mild detergent, rinse and dry thoroughly. I recommend placing a thoroughly rinsed utensil over heat or flame, 2-3 minutes, to remove any moisture from the porous metal. Never scour or use a dishwasher. (You may use a plastic bun to remove stubborn food particles).
    2. Cook food with little water content the first few times. Avoid cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes, unless combined with other food. Uncover hot food as you remove from the heat, because steam may remove the protective coating.
    3. Rust, a metallic taste or discolored foods are signs of improper or inadequate seasoning. If this occurs, wash thoroughly and re-season.
    4. Since cast iron heats evenly, it is not necessary to use extremely high cooking temperatures. Best results are obtained with medium to medium-to-high temperature settings. Do not overheat or leave empty utensil on the burner. Never place the utensil on an already heated burner; rather, allow the utensil to heat as the burner does.
    5. Always store cast iron utensils with tops or lids off so moisture won’t collect inside. Store in a warm, dry place. A paper towel placed inside the utensil will absorb any moisture and prevent rust.

    1. If things are turning black, you've got soot. That and the rust need to go.

      A scrub with lots of kosher salt may do the trick, and won't ruin whatever seasoning is already on the griddle. Failing that, wash the griddle with a detergent and dry it completely (as in, leave it over low heat so that residual water in the pores of the cast iron evaporates).

      Now you need to cure. I prefer lard for curing, but bacon grease, Crisco, or even vegetable oil will do the trick. Still over low heat, use a rag or a paper towel to rub the oil all over the griddle. Pay special attention to places where there was rust; properly cured cast iron will not rust. As the oil is absorbed, rub in more. If it smokes, turn down the heat. After an hour or so you should have a pretty good cure.

      3 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        I would recommend against bacon fat, because this fat will become rancid during storage.

        1. re: State St.

          I warn against vegetable oils of any kind; I tend to avoid crisco and lard, and wanted to season my cast iron with oil... it worked for about a week before it flaked off and made a scummy, yucky mess and ruined a meal.

          1. re: oryza

            You should just wipe a light coat of oil on each time you're done using it. If you let a heavy coat build up, then you will get flaking no matter what you're using. Also if you're not cleaning it well enough after use, the food/fat combination will also creat bubbly flakes.

      2. Years ago my grandparents owned a bona fide "Happy Days" style malt shop with a huge cast iron grill (gridle) for short order cooking. Every night after closing my grandfather would "scrub" it down with a huge block of pumice stone with a handle on it made for that purpose. It's logical they're still available today. Don't know what kind of fat he used as a "sealer" for the non-stick finish, but it was likely lard or Crisco. Anyway, see if you can find a pumice stone.

        Ah well, a little Google never hurt anyone! I see you don't use anything after the pumice stone because it doesn't damage the finish. Here's a website for one. There are lots of others.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          I'd first get it clean....and I've even used a paint remover that goes on a power drill to salvage a griddle that was quite rusted with much unknown crud. You can even use sandpaper. The pumice can be had at any restaurant supply-it's called a grill MIGHT be the very source of that black you describe. I'd use a HEAVY DUTY the stainless steal sponge type,get it CLEAN,use joy detergent and just a bit of boiling water...whatever works. THEN you season.

          I typically dry my iron on the burner a minute or so then rub on some canola oil. That's The basic.

          Of course...the steel grill top,such as the typical Wolf Stove at a cafe has,is a different thing. I'm assuming you are referring to a large ,seprate iron griddle and not an integrated steel grill.

          1. re: rerem

            Paint remover? NOT a good idea! Cast iron is porous, and to the very best of my knowledge paint remover, in any quantity, is not recommended as part of the human diet.

            I doubt very much that the pumice grill brick is responsible for the black stuff on his grill unless the grill has not been properly wiped down after cleaning. If grill bricks didn't do such an excellent job they wouldn't still be in use after heaven-knows how many years/decades/centuries.

            Paint thinner is a really bad idea. Very toxic stuff.

            1. re: Caroline1

              Caroline, RTFP. Rerem didn't use paint thinner, but ***A*** paint removr that goes on a power drill. In other words, a heavy-duty abrasive tool.

              Oh, and by the way, paint thinner is extremely volatile. Its vapor pressure is far greater than that of water. It would cook right off of cast iron. And the porosity of the metal doesn't change this; if water didn't cook out of the pores, the cast iron would rust. So paint thinner would cook out even quicker.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Which is not to say it wouldn't leave residual toxins behind. But you're right. I did think he meant a liquid paint remover. My bad.

          2. re: Caroline1

            Hi Caroline1, You mentioned a steel grill top such as the typical Wolf Stove at a cafe being a different thing... We just purchased a mid 90's Wolf Gourmet stove with a rusted grill top. Can you clarify this for me? Thank you.

            1. re: dorsey132

              Hi, Dorsey. My primary experience is with a large cast iron grill that seems to be referred to as a "flat top" on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. My grandparents owned a traditional malt shop when I was in junior high and high school (still wearing some of those damned malts on my hips!), and the last thing that was done every night before closing was to clean the grill with a pumice stone that took away all of the "residue" left from the days grilling. That always included a wide variety of things such as hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, steaks, fried eggs, omlettes, bacon, cottage fried potatoes... Well, just about anything you can think of. The grill was "scrubbed" with the dry pumice stone, then, if I am remembering right, a coating of fat of some sort was put on the grill and it was pumiced again, then wiped down with a clean dry cloth. It was then ready for the next day.

              All cast iron will rust if left to its own deviced. So it doesn't matter whether it's a flat top grill, a Wolf grill, or a cast iron frying pan, the treatment is the same. I would strongly advise against ever using any sort of chemical solvent "rust remover." Cast iron is porous and that stuff is toxic. You don't want it in your food. A good pumice work over will hopefully take care of the rust. If not, then I would get as much rust off as possible with the pumice, then I would oil it good with olive o8il or bacon grease and then cook a few orders of "throw away" food until no sighn of rust is visible on the cooked food. Gr5illed white bread is a good choice because you will see any rust stains clearly. One you have clear toast with no more rust stains from any part of the grill, wipe it down with a clean cloth or paper towels, then do a light film of fat over it and it's good until next time you cook. Never wash a grill with soap and water! Just use the pumice stone and fat.

              Sorry I didn't see your question sooner. Good luck!

              1. re: Caroline1

                Is it good to scrub a cast iron pan or grill with one of these BBQ copper brushes?

                1. re: cocolou

                  You can, but the critical thing is to wipe it well when you're through (a damp towel is fine, even swishing warm water in the frying pan is okay), then heat it a bit to drive any moisture out of the pores and rub it with a paper towel and a little oive oil. Or peanut oil. Or bacon grease. Or drawn butter... '-) The important thing is a very thin film of anything edible, including Crisco if that's all you have, that won't make the next thing you cook in/on it taste funny. This is especially important with a cast iron pan or grill you don't use often as it protects it from ambient humidity.

          3. It takes time to season cast iron. Once you get it cleaned up, make sure that whatever you cook on it for awhile has a lot of fat.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jimmy Buffet

              You are so right, Jimmy. And paint thinner is the worst thing to use, unless you are looking for slow death.