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May 10, 2009 10:35 AM

What am I doing wrong???

After reading rave reviews about the pre-seasoned lodge logic cast iron, I bought a 10" skillet about one year ago. I have used it about a dozen times, and would use it more often if I thought it "worked" better. It has certainly NOT been non-stick. My food, especially frittatas and other egg-based foods, sticks, and then the pan is a pain to clean.
Here is what i do. I always pre-heat the pan, and then add butter or oil. Then I add whatever it is I want to cook. After the food is cooked, I scrub the pan with a "stiffish" brush(never use soap or detergent), dry thoroughly (sometimes even put it in the oven on low, to dry) and then shmear a thin layer of oil on the pan.
I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do, but evidently not, because things really stick.
Please do not tell me how much better-off I would have been had I bought the good, old, cast iron, not the pre-seasoned, since I did not go that route, and would like to figure out how to make the best use of the pan I do have.
Thanks for any thoughts/suggestions

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  1. Any Lodge that you buy new will not have a polished surface, and gunk will stick to it, preseasoned or not.

    Tell us about your technique to "shmear"; therein may lie a clue.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Politeness

      Thanks so much for the quick response. In terms of "shmear"... I drizzle some oil in the pan, and then spread it around with a piece of waxed paper. I get the oil all over the pan, including the outside and the handle.

      1. re: bxgirl

        You need to shmear the oil into the pan when it is very warm. The entire surface must be coated, so you may need to do it several times, until all bare metal is covered.

        Then you need to bake the oiled pan for several hours in a very hot oven. Eventually, the surface will turn solid black (though not necessarily the first time you season it). This is when the nonstick properties kick in.

        The oil you use matters, since some oils will gunk everything up. I can't advise you on specific oils, but Crisco shortening definitely works.

        If you search the board, you will find some useful posts, and at least one exceptional one, on seasoning cast iron.

        1. re: embee

          Agreed. There are many, many articles out there on seasoning the pan. I can't find the one I really want - but here is a reasonable one:

    2. Use more oil when cooking.

      After using your pan, apply your "shmear" then heat the pan in the oven, 300-350 for one hour, then turn off the heat, leaving the pan in the oven. It is not necessary to oil the outside/handle.

      1. Thanks for all the responses, but I have an already seasoned pan. Should I be following the instructions to "oil and heat" with a pan that is supposedly already seasoned? Also,I can't put oil on the pan while it is hot (that is, right after using it), cause I have all sorts of stuff stuck to it). I can oil and heat after I've cleaned it up. Is that what I should be doing?
        Finally, (and I apologize for being such a pest), should I oil and heat after every use? I really want to feel comfortable using this pan, and, at this point, I just don't.
        Thanks so much

        1 Reply
        1. re: bxgirl

          If by "already seasoned", you mean "pre-seasoned" by Lodge, it isn't really seasoned. This just provides a start to the seasoning process. When it's seasoned, the pan will be black and the surface almost smooth.

        2. If you don't want things to stick, either use more oil or buy a nonstick pan.

          Cast iron is wonderful stuff. And after you've used it a few hundred times, you'll be able to fry an egg on it with minimal oil. But it will never be as slippery as a good nonstick surface, and AFAIK there's no substitute for time and repetition (in addition to proper seasoning) when it comes to developing the surface.

          So use the thing. Like every day. If you only cook with it once a month, it'll take forever to get the surface right. Make bacon. Fry chicken. Cook burgers (with at least 20% fat). Bake cornbread (it's a good way to use up the grease you saved when you made bacon). For the time being, steer clear of "sticky" things like eggs - even potatoes might be too much for now. And be patient. It'll come around.

          5 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            alanbarnes, "Cast iron is wonderful stuff. And after you've used it a few hundred times, you'll be able to fry an egg on it with minimal oil."

            I'm not sure that's true. We bought a new Lodge skillet in 1980, did all of the "right" things to it and for it for 29 years, and it never did get right, ever. Finally, three or four months ago, we gave up, and got an Erie Griswold (from about 1940) on eBay for $16, total, including shipping, and it has been wonderful from Day One. There was a crude saying when I was in college, "No matter how hard you try -- no matter HOW hard -- you simply CANNOT polish a ----," and it may be that that saying applies to newer Lodge.

            But bxgirl started this topic telling us what she did not want to hear that, so I hope that she shielded her eyes when she saw where the last paragraph above was headed,

            1. re: Politeness

              My oldest stuff is from the early '80s. I remember it being occasionally cantankerous when the kids were small (10-15 years ago), but it works well now. Gotta figure the decades of near-daily use have something to do with that, although operator experience part may be a factor too.

              On the other hand, when you buy something that already has half a century of use on it, odds are that somebody else has put up with the front part of the quality curve. Maybe the newer Lodge stuff is inherently inferior. But maybe it's just newer.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Twenty-nine years of continuous use should have been sufficient to bring the Lodge up to snuff. Problem was, the surface was never that smooth to begin with, not like the mirror-smooth bottom of the old Griswold frying pan of my mother's that I grew up with in the 1940s and 1950s (and that our son inherited, skipping my generation). When we got the Griswold griddle from the eBay purchase, it looked pretty good, but out of an abundance of caution ("You don't know where its been!") I put it through a cycle in the self-cleaning oven, taking it down to bare metal, and seasoned it from scratch. As noted, it has been everything I had always hoped that the 1980 Lodge would become but never did.

                1. re: Politeness

                  As perverse as this might sound, your last two posts (in response to alanbarnes) actually made me feel better!!!
                  Perhaps it isn't me and the way I have been caring for and using the pre-seasoned Lodge. Perhaps it just is not all that great, and is not what I expected it to be.
                  Embee also leads me to believe that the pre-seasoned is not really seasoned yet, and that it why is mnight not be performing the way I thought it would.

                  1. re: Politeness

                    One possible difference - I wail on mine. Scrape hard with the spatula, don't spare the steel wool, even use sandpaper on occasion (although that hasn't happened in years). It eventually became perfectly smooth.

                    To the OP: you may want to try using a sanding block and some coarse sandpaper to knock down the high spots. Go to a finer grit to sand out the scratches you made, and season again. It might not work, but apparently what you're doing now isn't working for you, so what do you have to lose?

            2. Nothing wrong with your pan. Eggs are tricky -- you have to use a little grease. Let the pan get nice and hot before greasing and cracking the eggs. A few spritzes of PAM works -- no need for the eggs to "swim". The eggs will stick a little but a) cast iron is not going to be damaged by a metal spatula and b) the egg will naturally start to release as it cooks. Really important to manage the heat -- flame should be set no higher than medium.

              Don't mess with scrambled eggs until you get some confidence in your pan. (My wife manages to get her scrambled egg to stick to teflon, go figure.)

              I am torn on whether a polished surface would be truly more stick-resistant than an unpolished pan. If a smooth surface was a factor, why is anodized aluminum and stainless steel such a nightmare? I think it has way more to do with the fact that those old Wagner and Griswold pans ARE so old -- decades of seasoning.

              Cast iron gets better with use, so it behooves you to use. The pre-seasoning is a decent "starter" -- it sure beats having to scrub off the wax and stink up the house on the initial seasoning. But, it is just a start. It helps to do a few rounds of things like bacon, fried chicken, etc. before the pan gets good. You will probably notice that the pan will go through an ugly phase where the pre-seasoning thins out in places and is replaced with newer seasoning that will be lighter colored. It all works out in the end.