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Storing cast iron in oven

h
happy_c Apr 21, 2009 09:21 AM

My kitchen is so ridiculously tiny that I've taken to storing my cast-iron skillet in the oven. But I'm sick of taking the skillet out whenever I want to use the oven - I've got nowhere else to put it, that's why it was in the oven in the first place!

I've heard of people leaving their cast-iron pan in the oven even while baking/roasting. However, I'm afraid that if I leave my skillet in the oven when I'm roasting at high temperatures (400 or 450 degrees F, usually), the seasoning will burn off.

Anyone know how high I can turn the oven temp, and for how long, without damaging the resident skillet?

  1. g
    GreaseFire Apr 22, 2009 03:06 PM

    Cook 'em all you want. It will take a lotta runs at 500F+ to burn off the seasoning. Hopefully you'll use it enough in between to keep the season going. The salt trick??...great for seasoning. heat the pan....rub a little oil in it....dump some coarse Kosher salt in it...use a paper towel and scrub the salt into the pan. wipe it clean. Helps get a jump stat on ealry seasoning. I also keep salt in the pan when not in use....not necessary but it help to keep the pan as dry as possible.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GreaseFire
      h
      happy_c Apr 22, 2009 07:51 PM

      Thanks for everyone's replies.

      GreaseFire, I'm actually kind of confused about the role of salt in cast iron maintenance and seasoning. I use it sometimes just to get stuck-on food off the pan, but that's just sprinkling it on, rubbing with a paper towel, and rinsing it off - no added oil or heat. I've also come across this "deep-cleaning" method

      http://www.ehow.com/how_2028544_deep-...

      which seems to imply that the salt will strip the seasoning off, requiring you to re-season the pan from scratch after the deep-cleaning process. I'm guessing that you only do this when the seasoning has gone rancid or turned gunky and sticky for some reason.

      But your post is the first I've heard of using salt to *enhance* seasoning. What's the benefit of adding the salt to the oil-and-paper-towel procedure? Given that salt works so well to scour off stuck bits of food, I'd worry that the salt would actually abrade away seasoning rather than help establish or maintain it.

      1. re: happy_c
        g
        GreaseFire Apr 23, 2009 02:14 AM

        You've got it right. I meant to use the salt for a first time seasoning....for a new pan. Yes, it's good for some cleaning if you've got some not-so-pretty gunk in there, too. No...it's not meant for a general enhancement of seasoning.

        As far as my keeping "salt in the pan when not in use" I just leave some sitting in the pan. No scrubbing. It helps keep the pan dry, which keeps even the slightest possibility of rust at at bay. It also keeps any of that extra-chunky seasoning from.....well..."growing". I just find it gives me a smoother surface.

    2. j
      jaykayen Apr 22, 2009 02:47 AM

      I do that, too. But my cast iron pan IS my roasting pan, and I take it up to 450 without any problems. It usually looks even better afterward.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jaykayen
        h
        happy_c Apr 22, 2009 04:08 AM

        I'm sure it'd be ok at 450 if it had something in it - just don't know about empty.

        Maybe I should just give it a shot and see what happens, except I worked so hard at getting a decent seasoning that I hate to put it at risk. :(

        1. re: happy_c
          Caralien Apr 22, 2009 02:57 PM

          We use our cast iron pans under the broiler regularly (the thermometer registers the temp at over 500F). No issues whatsoever. These are old pans (40+ at the youngest), so I'm not worried.

          As it appears that yours are younger, you might risk reducing the seasoning a bit, but you could also apply a thin amount of oil the pan if you were not using it for cooking whatever you were making.

      2. Soop Apr 22, 2009 01:36 AM

        Is it actually possible to burn off seasoning? I thought it was basically carbon bonded to the cast iron?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Soop
          h
          happy_c Apr 22, 2009 02:07 AM

          Yes, it's possible - that's why putting cast iron through a self-cleaning oven cycle works to strip off the seasoning if you want to start over again from bare metal.

          1. re: happy_c
            Soop Apr 22, 2009 02:15 AM

            I'd have thought that the structure of the pan would have to change; IE that it would have to get VERY hot - either melt or just start expanding to dislodge the bond formed.

            But you can't burn pure carbon.

            1. re: Soop
              Paulustrious Apr 22, 2009 05:26 AM

              My father used to season initially with salt. I've not seen that discussed here. It probably is, but buried in some archive.

              1. re: Paulustrious
                Soop Apr 22, 2009 06:38 AM

                It's maybe to roughen the surface at a microscopic level to create a better surface to bond to?

                1. re: Soop
                  h
                  happy_c Apr 23, 2009 02:49 AM

                  Maybe. My Lodge is so rough already, though, that I don't think the salt would add significantly to the roughness. If anything, it would make the surface smoother - the new Lodges are that rough. :(

        2. MMRuth Apr 21, 2009 02:07 PM

          I have to store mine (and various other items) in the oven too, but I always remove them before heating the oven.

          1. r
            Rivercat0338 Apr 21, 2009 09:52 AM

            I did that on purpose the other day by leaving my cast iron skillets in the oven for a self-cleaning cycle, but the self-cleaning temp is a lot hotter (900 degrees F?) and often lasts longer than typical roasting or baking. I think anything under 500 F is probably ok, as long as you don't do it several times a week. Maybe rub some shortening or oil over the pans before you start the oven so they stay seasoned.

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