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Cant get deBuyers to properly season

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  • Falk Feb 27, 2012 08:46 AM
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i have been trying for months now and still cant get it right

eggs still stick pancakes the other morning were a disaster

and tips or can someone walk me through this again

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  1. Just to get this out of the way - I assume your following the 'hot wok, cold oil principal' when cooking.

    17 Replies
    1. re: rosetown

      good thing we got this out of the way becase I am not familiar with that principle

      1. re: rosetown

        You may not have heard about the principle but still, you might be following it.

        I heat my carbons steel woks and skillets to the point that I start to see the beginnings of a smoke haze, and then remove the pan from the heat source and add my oil (butter, ghee, various oils) and then add my ingredients.

        Another way to determine if the pan is hot enough before adding oil is the drop of water test. If the water drop breaks into hundreds of beads moving rapidly all over the surface, it's not hot enough. When the bead, more or less, remains in a ball with minimal movement, its hot enough. By the way, this test works on stainless steel as well, if you want non stick, as opposed to creating a fond.

        I wash my carbon steel pans in hot water and scrub with natural fiber brushes, wipe with paper towels and then dry it on the heat source for about a minute. There is still residual oil on the surface.

        1. re: rosetown

          I believe that the "hot pan cold oil" principle is a cooking myth. In fact, the moment you put oil in the pan, it will basically be hot. In fact, all you want is hot pan hot oil so that there is an instant sear on your food, and steam will prevent it from sticking to the metal.

          Some people would argue that oil heating up with the pan is just as effective if not better because the oil begins to shimmer when it is hot enough (and you don't have to do that water thing). Personally I add the oil after doing the water drop test. Actually, I just purchased an IR thermometer, so I just use that. But you don't need to have cold oil, as if you actually had cold oil, then the food would just sink into the oil, hit the pan, and sear onto it instead of right above it.

          1. re: JustyBear

            I certainly stand to be corrected. Most home cooks don't have hot oil on hand - but you're right - if you add hot oil to a hot pan, you're fine.

            1. re: rosetown

              What I mean is that if you add cold oil to a hot pan, it almost instantly becomes hot oil in a hot pan, which is no different from cold oil in a cold pan heated to hot oil in a hot pan.

              If you're thinking about the usage of heat with food, it would be irrelevant when the oil becomes hot so long as the oil is hot and the pan is hot.

              I guess the idea is that hot pan, cold oil works, but not because you're using cold oil, but because the oil becomes hot. The same result can be had when you add the oil earlier.

              1. re: JustyBear

                That makes sense to me!!

                1. re: JustyBear

                  You've given me pause - so what I'm hearing is not so much myth - myth if it's the only way to measure.

                  Ways to measure:
                  o - hot wok cold oil - old chinese adage
                  o - water drop test
                  o - cold wok cold oil brought to an appropriate shimmer.

                  Here is a photo of a pan after I cooked an egg 10 minutes ago - over easy - the pan is perfectly smooth - finger test - it doesn't need any scrubbing - cooked on the hot wok 'cold oil principle' using ghee.

                   
                  1. re: rosetown

                    I guess a better way to put it is that "hot wok cold oil" is a misconception.

                    Yes, you do exactly what you're doing, but cold oil onto a hot pan will make the oil hot. This is in the exact same stage as cold oil put into a cold pan that is then heated to the same temperature. There is no inherent advantage with one over the other.

                    Arguably, the water drop test (which is what you do, and I genrally do) helps you test your temperature more easily than oil from the start (not everyone has an IR thermometer). Dropping water in a pan will show you the general temperature range by how the water evaporates. If there is already oil in it, it will splatter, which is messy and no good.

                    My point is that hot pan, cold oil creates a misconception of why things will not stick. It's not because the oil is cold, but because the oil is hot. I'm not sure if that makes sense.

                    1. re: JustyBear

                      My theory, and this is just my guess ;), is that with the "hot wok cold oil" idea, is that wok cooking is done over very high heat. more so than you can achieve out of the typical range...So if you added your oil from the get go you would have a bunch of smoke and foul tasting oil due to the heat, and likely some sludge when the oil breaks down which most probably also caused sticking.

                      Just my thought.

                      1. re: cannibal

                        That is legitimate, and I am inclined to agree wholeheartedly with that.

                        I think what I'm trying to say (even though I say wok in my previous post) is that a lot of people say that hot PAN cold oil is best, even though that isn't necessarily the case. Woks require blazing temperatures to properly be used, which would, yeah, be better with "cold" oil. My only point is that the oil, when it hits the pan, will immediately heat up to a temperature close to what the wok is at. It's cold oil maybe when it is about to go in, but when it's in, you better believe its hot as hell.

                        1. re: JustyBear

                          JustyBear, I agree with what you're saying as well ;)
                          When I cook it doesn't matter if i heat the oil gradually and watch for the shimmer, or if i preheat the pan to temperature and then add the oil. 2 paths to the same destination. I think it comes down to what different people are comfortable with or used to. For someone that doesn't know what to look for in the oil to "shimmer" then the hot pan (or wok) and cold oil is a easier way to get the same results.

                        2. re: cannibal

                          If I understand you correctly, what you're suggesting is oil, added to a cold pan, and heated through time changes its nature, negatively, as opposed to being instantly heated on contact. Dammed if I know - time for the experts. I sure they are reading.

                          1. re: rosetown

                            Somewhat. I hope I can clarify, I'm running on little sleep and even less coffee :P

                            Oil added to a pan and then heated to a very high heat will mean that the oil has been exposed to those high temperatures and thus start to break down, dpending on the smoke point of the oil.

                            However if you're using a fry pan with canola oil in it(high smoke point), then gradually heat that pan to 400 degrees, the oil will be fine since it doesn't hit the heat you would see in a wok.

                            In a wok, that's very hot, you add the oil and then immediately adding your ingredients, so the oil doesn't have a chance to gum up.

                            Hope that makes sense, and again this is just a theory i thought up while i should really be paying attention to my work :P
                            hopefully one of the more "seasoned" cooks here will have more clarity to confirm or deny my belief.

                        3. re: JustyBear

                          I don't use the water drop test - I've tested it on carbon steel and on stainless steel, but only once, to test its veracity. For carbon steel (wok, skillets) I'm happy with 'hot wok (skillet) cold oil principle'. It works.

                        4. re: rosetown

                          reply to self:

                          A picture after I've washed with hot water, wiped with a paper towel and dried on a hot cooking surface for one minute. You will note that it still shines.

                          One notion that enters my mind:
                          If the primary user follows all recommended instructions, but other users do not, the pan may look dull. Perhaps little white lies, or a concern for cleanliness, or who know what!!
                          Still after cleaning, it should have a sheen.
                          photo below:

                           
                          1. re: rosetown

                            reply to self one more time:

                            Your wok (skillet) doesn't have to look like the pictures I've posted to function well. My flat bottomed wok looks awful but functions beautifully. Picture below.

                             
                            1. re: rosetown

                              Actually looks fine to me. The scratches just mean you didn't babysit the cookware and used metal tools.

              2. Carbon steel is like a Math problem. There are many ways to get the result you want ;)

                This is what works for me.
                when i reseasoned my 12" carbon + i took off all the previous seasoning with a steel scrubber and some barkeepers friend.
                i boiled some potato peals in the pan and then washed it well. I dried it over some heat as well.
                I then filled it with about a cup of flax seed oil and got it nice and hot on the burner. then dumped the oil. (I don't feel this is needed, but it's just what i did at the time)

                I wiped the pan down really well, trying to get all the oil off of the surface.
                I placed this in the oven (NOT upside-down) at 500 degrees for about 45 minutes.
                then i turned off the oven and let it cool overnight.

                in the morning i took a little flax oil and wiped down the surface of the pan, then took another paper towel and again tried to wipe out as much as i could. I placed it in the 500 degree oven for 45 minutes and let it cool down in the oven. I repeated this process 3 more times.

                I have gotten excellent results with this seasoning. I make fritatas, eggs over easy, crepes, and sear proteins with no or minimal sticking.

                1. Also, how are you cooking these foods that are sticking? a little fat in these pans goes a long way.

                  By your name I assume you're used to cooking in a stainless surface, which should make this pan a breeze. I just wanted to make sure ;)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cannibal

                    using what i thought was plenty of fat. Falk is the family name not the pan lol

                    1. re: Falk

                      Ah ok ;) my mistake. Cool family name, maybe Falk will give you discounts on their cookware if you tell them it's distant family! :P
                      I didn't see until after I posted that the two posters above asked the same question. oops!

                      1. re: cannibal

                        Which carbon steel pan do you have? I just realized if it's one of the pans that are blued from the factory a steel scrubber might not be the best idea.

                  2. My guess is you haven't been getting the pan clean enough. Some people are scared off from washing their pans by worries about damaging the seasonong, and consequently leave too much oil on the pan, which becomes sticky, and eventually a backed on crust. This is not seasoning. A well-seasoned pan has an extremely thin layer of grease which smooths out the surface of the pan and protects it from rust. It should always feel dry and hard, never sticky, and it takes some time to reach optimal development. The process cannot be sped up by leaving too much residue on the pan, which will only cause stickiness.

                    My advice is:

                    First, wash the pan well, using liquid dish detergent if necessary, and a scrubber sufficient to remove the excess coating. Do not worry about damaging the seasoning.

                    Season once with solid Crisco. Wipe the pan dry with paper towels while still warm, leaving as little residue as possible.

                    Now just use it, and don't worry too much about the seasoning. After each use, wash with hot water and wipe dry with paper towels, leaving no residue which can be wiped out. Put over heat for half a minute to ensure the pan is thoroughly dry. Do not add oil after washing.

                    Over time, the seasoning should improve. The results may depend on which oil you are using for cooking. Some oils may have a greater tendency than others to produce stickiness.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: GH1618

                      then obvious followup is which oils leave the least residue? I like to cook woth ghee and coocnut oil my wife is an olive oil fan

                      1. re: Falk

                        I am not sure about coconut oil but I am pretty sure I have read somewhere that olive oil does not do well under high temperatures and as such I would have thought it would be unsuitable for cooking with these pans. I am pretty sure the same goes for animal fats (like butter, ghee, etc) too. The oils I know are good to cook with are corn and sunflower ones (and I would say that vegetable based oils have less negative health effects than animal fats).

                        What I would ask is, do you let the oil get hot enough and do you let the pancakes or eggs cook long enough to the point where they don't stick to the pan?

                      2. re: GH1618

                        I actually have a question about this, one is that I am currently involved in a similar discussion regarding my LC and Staub enamel cast iron pans. I feel like I've ruined them, and I keep getting a million different answers. Still not quite sure what's up. My residue is sticky! Isn't that food? It shouldn't be on there, right? But how do I remove it without removing the enamel coating?

                        1. re: KateBristow

                          Enamel is entirely different. Although I don't use that type of cookware, my u derstanding is that there should be no seasoning layer at all on the enamel. It should be clean. If thete seems to be a residue that doesn't come off with normal detergent and water, I would try Bar Keepers Friend. Although this is really a matter for the Le Creuset experts.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            I tried that and it seems to have eaten into the layer a bit.

                            Do you mind if I ask why you don't use that kind? Just curious and trying to learn.

                            1. re: KateBristow

                              I'm just not willing to spring for the cost of Le Creuset. I have one plain cast iron frying pan which has its uses. I don't see that enameled iron would be an improvement. I don't have a dutch oven at all, unless you count a small cast iron kettle that I used to make beef stew in, but rarely use anymore. I don't actually need a dutch oven, but there is a Copco dutch oven by Michael Lax which I gave to my mother years ago which may come back to me someday.

                              I have a lot of different types of cookware which I like, so just don't have a real need for more. Better to ask someone who wants a Le Creuset (or similar) piece why they prefer that type of cookware to the alternatives.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                Sure, thank you.

                      3. I agree with many of the things said here. Does everything stick or just eggs? Eggs can be tough. What about meats?

                        1. Hey Falk - we need some answers!!

                          o - are you and your wife following the 'hot wok cold oil principle'.
                          o - are your skillets smooth and free of crud.

                          Different cooking oils, in use shouldn't matter much, and are important because some impart a flavor one wants. I did mention butter only for those that don't have easy access to ghee. Ghee is the way to go when it comes to butter as a cooking oil.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: rosetown

                            I'm going to ask you the same question that I asked someone above, because you are mentioning pans should be free of crud. I feel like I have crud...

                            I actually have a question about this, one is that I am currently involved in a similar discussion regarding my LC and Staub enamel cast iron pans. I feel like I've ruined them, and I keep getting a million different answers. Still not quite sure what's up. My residue is sticky! Isn't that food? It shouldn't be on there, right? But how do I remove it without removing the enamel coating?

                            1. re: rosetown

                              I beleive we do generally use the HWCO principle the pans are not smooth though definitely some gunk

                              as far as what sticks eggs are the worst althoug the pancakes were a disaster(but dont make them that often

                              I think a lot of the crud comes from bacon, or the sugar therein

                              1. re: Falk

                                Well, you've got to get rid of the gunk. - that's not my area of expertise,so others will provide advice. I suspect, gunk aside, that you or your partner, are not getting the skillet hot enough prior to adding oil, but I could be wrong. Once seasoned, I don't baby my pan, but I do look for the beginning of a smoke haze before adding oil.
                                Another consideration, you need to use enough oil - no dry or close to dry cooking, at least at the beginning - you will eventually feel your way.

                                1. re: Falk

                                  Thinking again - it also matters where the gunk (crud) is. If it's only on the top of the rim - then work the rim to get rid of it. If it's on the cooking surface, and is crud as opposed to stickiness, stickiness being easy to remove, then it might be worthwhile to renew and re-season. I'm lazy by nature and usually take the easiest route.

                                  1. re: Falk

                                    Here is some scholarly info that might help to understand how food sticks to metal pans: http://www.edinformatics.com/math_sci...

                                    Basically, the cold proteins like to adhere hot iron. If you can put a layer of hot oil between the metal and the food, then there are fewer points of contact, hence less sticking. And if that oil is hot enough, then the very fast vaporization of the moisture can form an additional layer of steam.
                                    When an iron pan is "seasoned", some of the oils become polymerized, and form a tough layer at the pan surface that is much less adhesive than is the bare metal. Until you wash it with detergent, which will remove that layer.
                                    It took me a while to get a good, clean, polymerized layer on my 12" cast iron skillet, but it is now my go-to pan for putting a high-temperature sear on a piece of meat- much hotter than I dare go with Teflon coatings. I clean it afterward with only hot water and a paper towel.

                                    1. re: greese

                                      The link leaves out one observation that Harold McGee has made - oil thins at the hottest part of the pan. When you see the oil ripple, pay attention attention to the thickness of the oil layer.

                                      The link doesn't delve too much into why items like meat tends to release itself after a while. That release is part of why high temperature searing works in cast iron, even stainless steel. Things that don't release tend to just burn in similar circumstances.

                                2. Does 'hot wok, cold oil' and related ideas, apply to all eggs and pancakes?

                                  There is an ideal temperature for baking pancakes, one which you test with dancing water drops. It think it is around 350/375. Too hot will burn the outside before the inside is done; too cold takes too long. At the same time you don't want a lot of oil. I used 'baked', not 'fried' intentionally. I may fry a corn fritter, but I don't want crisp edges on my pancakes.

                                  My best pan for pancakes is a carbon steel crepe pan, one that is used exclusively for items like this. It is never deglazed, or used to make a sauce. At the start of a cooking session I pour in a bit of oil, and then wipe it all out, so all I am left with is a film. I renew that film with a wipe of the oily paper towel.

                                  The OP does not specify the type of eggs. The crepe pan also works great for fast omelets, which do use more fat (butter). However, I am not a careful as Jaque Pepin about not letting the omelet brown at all. Fried eggs with crisp edges also do fine in a lot of fat. But a hot pan and plenty of oil is disaster for scrambled eggs, even the relatively fast marbled ones that I like.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: paulj

                                    An omelet is thick enough but a crepe/pancake is that thin that one can say that the "inside" virtually dont exist. Therefore there are no chances that the outside will burn and inside won't cook.

                                    1. re: iliria

                                      But a pancake (using baking powder) does have an inside (drop scones in Scotland)

                                    2. re: paulj

                                      Your post brought back a forgotten memory of an an attempt to make an omelet following 'hot wok, cold oil' and it was a train wreck from the moment I poured the eggs into the pan. Instantly, I knew it wasn't going to be an omelet and in a flash decided to turn it into scrambled - from bad to worse. Still I did't harm the seasoned pan.

                                      I'll try the omelet again, but this time using a water drop test. Tnx

                                    3. Falk, I have to backtrack here and eat a lot of humble pie.

                                      The 'hot wok, cold oil' applies well to Asian cooking methods. Nonetheless,carbon steel woks and 'Lyonaisse' style carbon steel skillets from Europe employ, in the main, very different cooking techniques, and thus, often, different ideal cooking temperatures.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: rosetown

                                        Just my two cents on the Hot wok cold oil discussion that's ongoing here.

                                        Essentially, in most Chinese and Thai kitchen and small restaurants, they tend to work with one or very few cookware, primarily a wok to prepare all or most of their dishes. In between cooking different dishes, the cooks will use hot water and a bamboo brush to give the wok a quick rinse and scrub. It is then rinsed again. The reason for the hot wok cold oil technique is that heating the wok to smoking point will rid the wok off any moisture or water droplets which will cause oil to splatter if added earlier.

                                        In a professional Western kitchen, the pans are usually cleaned and replaced by a hired helper / dishwasher who washes and dries the cookware that a line cook then uses. In this case, it is safe to start with a cold pan and cold oil. However, there is a risk that an inexperienced cook might put the food in the pan earlier which not only doesn't sear but soaks up to cold oil and thus reducing the amount of fat buffer between food and pan increasing chances of sticking. By using a hot pan before adding the oil, the oil gets heated up fasted which minimizes the risk that one would put the ingredients in before optimal oil temperature is attained.

                                      2. http://youtu.be/xoIO8YOpyN4

                                        Here's a good youtube video from Vollrath that has a good seasoning demo.