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Jan 17, 2011 11:26 PM

Cast Iron - Brown crusty circles left from cooking burgers

I apologize for YET ANOTHER cast iron related question..

My cast iron was (or i thought it was) well seasoned, and the other day, I made burger. Just plain ol' burgers (with salt and pepper). I put some olive oil in the pan, and let it get screamin' hot, and slapped the burgers in there.

After cooking them, there are two, brown circles in the pan (where the burgers were cooking.)

Do I scrape off these brown bits? If so, with what? Or do I just rub some more canola oil in it and call it a day?

This is generally the problem I have with cast iron - I have no idea what I'm supposed to do to it after I'm done cooking food in it (Like bacon, or hamburgers.)

So, what do you do after you cook food in your cast iron, and you have residue? Wash with soap and water, or coarse salt and a rag?

Also (sorry, I know this is getting long) wouldn't using bacon grease to season the pan be a BAD idea, because the bacon fat could go rancid, right?

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  1. IME, the traditional method of scrubbing the gunk off with a slurry of kosher salt and oil works great.

    1 Reply
    1. I presume these brown bits you are talking about are really like carbon charcoal -- hard, dry and sandy, right?

      Just scrap them off. Sometime, boiling a solution of baking soda help loosen protein-related residues. You won't able to scrap every tiny bits off, but just scarp as much as you can. In time, these burned-in surface will form a new layer of seasoning surface.

      There are two kind of seasoning surfaces people talk about. There is the shiny, smooth and slick seasoning surface people talk about a lot. There is the dull, sandy, charcoal like seasoning surface which don't get talked as much. If you are going to do a lot of really high temperature cooking, you will get the second kind. Think of your grill. Your grill will not get that shiny and smooth seasoning surface, instead it will form the dull and sandy one, but it works great regardless.

      Bacon grease is fine for seasoning a cookware. No the seasoning from bacon fat (or any oil) will completely turn into something and will not go rancid. Now, it is a completely different thing if you are to use bacon fat to coat the pan for storage. In that case, the bacon fat remains bacon fat and can turn rancid.

      1. Yes kosher salt and oil should do it....but can invest in a pot scraper. The last time I was at Bed Bath & Beyond I saw that they sell them there. They're made of hard nylon and look like a guitar pick that has a glandular condition. I got mine as a free gift at a Pampered Chef demo about 20 years ago, but it shouldn't cost more than a few bucks. I also bought a cheap metal grill brush that I sometimes use. A couple of scrapes, rinse, dry and a bit of oil and you're in business.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Ambimom

          A metal spatula works well also.

          1. re: Ambimom

            I have those. 99 cents each, I remember.

            1. re: Ambimom

              Or try one of these:


              I'm very familiar with this product and amazingly it woks as advertised.

              1. re: mikie

                $15 for a plastic scraper seems ridiculously expensive. You can find any number of plastic or nylon scrapers in any hardware store for far less

            2. I was also going to tell you to try oil and kosher salt and scrub, no soap though.

              I have a question for all using cast iron skillets.
              Where do you all buys yours?
              Is it at a kitchen store like WS, or Ace Hardware or Wal Mart or or or?
              I've bought them those places too but find it so hard to season them, it takes longer than I am old to get them there. I've honestly tossed them many many times in the garbage for the rust and difficult way it seemed to clean them. Anyone else have the same issues with them?
              Also, for me, the best place to find them is in flee markets, already used, already seasoned, maybe more expensive but they're done/prepared for me already. Anyone else purchase them used?

              4 Replies
              1. re: iL Divo

                I bought mine from Bed Bath and Beyond. It is a Calphalon brand bare cast iron skillet. I don't see them anymore. I think Calphalon stops selling them. I simply bought it because it was cheap and I wanted to make skillet cornbread. Who knnew... I end up using it for many other things -- aside from cornbread. :)

                I guess I do remember it getting tiny bit rusty first, but then I reseasoned it. I mean I literally baked the original seasoning coating completely, so it turned to bare grey color. Then, I seasoned it. I have not had a problem since. I think cast iron is just cast iron. Once it is seasoned properly, it is fine.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  A friend I used to work with did the same thing I did in meaning she'd see them in non-retail stores and if they were well seasoned, she'd buy it too. b
                  Her words to me were, always when you're done with it and go to wash it, make sure you dry it properly. If there's a fire in the fireplace, place it in there and leave it a while, if not, turn on burner on stove and put on there until you see no evidence of moisture left. In other words always dry it really hot.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I'm not afraid to use a little steel wool to get off the hard stuff.
                    I have a collection and use them so often that seasoning is
                    not a problem. YMMV

                    OH, my word - don't throw cast iron in the garbage! Rust is easy to
                    clean - Chow has a movie pictorial on that subject. Fry a few fillet
                    of cod or halibut in a little canola oil and your skillet will love you
                    for it.

                    What Chemicalkinetics said....

                    "I guess I do remember it getting tiny bit rusty first, but then I reseason it. I mean I literally baked off the original seasoning coating completely off, so it is just bare grey color. Then, I seasoned the whole thing from scratch. I have not had a problem since. I think cast iron is just cast iron. Once it is seasoned properly, it is fine."

                  2. re: iL Divo

                    i have salvaged mine @ garage sales.....Cheap ! Cheap !

                    wash well and perform a minimum cure and you are good to go.

                  3. Agree with others--a bit of oil and kosher salt, rubbed in gently, and you are good to go.