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Cast iron skillet- bacon stuck- oh no

Merry Christmas everyone. So I found an old cast iron skillet at the back of my late dad's kitchen cabinet. Took it as a challenge to clean it up and reseason so I could enjoy it. Yes, ignoring the fact that I could buy a new one for 20 bucks!

Researched quite a bit, so many ways recommended. I did the oven cleaner in the plastic bag (twice) to be able to scrape off the gunk. Ok, now it's been cleaned up, final scrub with SOS pad, dried off. Here's the method I decided to do, after compiling advice:

dried the pan in a 200 degree oven for 10 min. Wiped on with cotton rag a thin coating of oil. (Used almond oil, I saw it on a list and it had a higher smoking point than others I had.) 350 oven for 1 1/2 hrs, crank up to 475 for another hour.

It kind of looked the same when done, was it supposed to? Didn't know, so repeated- used olive oil just for fun. (Hope this isn't getting too long, almost done.)

This morning making our holiday bacon and eggs and waffle breakfast, decide to try "new" skillet for the bacon. It totally stuck! How can bacon of all things stick! Also did some bacon in my older larger cast iron skillet- that was fine.

Question- do I reseason the pan? or what... I read that some people say you have to do the whole baking process many many times; other things I read said to bake it once for an hour... I'm confused! Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. Just keep seasoning it if it's not rusty. I don't think the issue was the pan though. how did you cook the bacon? Did you wait for the pan to preheat? Did you move the bacon too quickly? I've completely reasoned a rusty pan once, removed all teh rust and season and reasoned it by coating some oil on it and putting into a low oven for a couple hours. The next day I preheated the pan (it takes longer than regular pans because ethey're so thick). threw on some bacon w/out any added oil and it was slick and perfect. if that doesnt work, just fry up some fried chicken that should be perfect :D

    1. Have a growing collection of cast iron, since picking up 2 different sized skillet for almost NOTHING at a yard sale... Lodge, Griswold, etc. TOTALLY crusty. I took easy/heretic route and used cheap, dollar store spray oven cleaner on them... MAN the brown GUNK that rolled off them was amazing. Then reseasoned. Think the key is USE cast iron as often as possible. It's pretty much indestructible and can ONLY get BETTER with age!

      1. I think that when you were seasoning the pan, 475degrees just burned off all of the oil.

        1. Use Crisco shortening for seasoning instead of oil. 475 is too hot. Bake below 400 to stay comfortably below the smoke point.

          Here is a link to seasoning instructions from panman.com:

          http://www.panman.com/cleaning.html

          1 Reply
          1. thanks to all. I'll try again with crisco at a lower temp, with Mr. Panman's instructions. I didn't buy crisco before because I have all these other oils and don't use crisco- didn't want more stuff in the pantry. Pretty soon this really will cost more than a new pan : )

            Funny about the lower temps- most instructions I read seemed to go for higher. thanks again.

            1. Stop with the oil. Oil will leave a sticky residue. Keep frying bacon in it or wipe with lard or shortening, wiping frequently and adding more as needed and repeating until seasoned. NO OIL!!!

              I would actually start over again and run it through the self- cleaning cycle of your oven. It will have a rusty residue, never mind. Wipe it out and start again with lard, shortening or just using it to cook bacon and the like until seasoned.

              1. <How can bacon of all things stick! Also did some bacon in my older larger cast iron skillet- that was fine.>

                Actually, bacon stick easily because of the added sugar.

                <Question- do I reseason the pan? or what>

                Look up some of the older posts on this matter if you have time. What you will find is that there are many ways to acheive a good seasoning surface. Some people swear by the low temperature oven method, while others use high temperature stovetop method. I have tried many different methods, and I personally like the higher temperature, but do whatever you think will work for you. If it does not, try the other methods. Anyway, you will likely have to repeat this process at least twice.

                <Used almond oil, I saw it on a list and it had a higher smoking point than others I had.) >

                Refined almond oil or not?

                <350 oven for 1 1/2 hrs, crank up to 475 for another hour.>

                It sounds ok.

                <It kind of looked the same when done, was it supposed to?>

                It sure should not look the same. Are you sure that you have recmove the original seasoning? What color is the pan without the seasoning? It should be a light grey color.

                  1. Just like with stainless you have to season the pan with salt and oil. Metal/stainless pans have VERY porous surfaces. "But the pan looks so shiny". Look at the surface with even a cheap microscope and look at the rough surface. The oil and salt fills up the pores which means nothing can get into these pores.......like food. Season with Kosher salt and oil made into a slurry paste and spread it on the bottom and sides of the pan. Heat the pan to very hot to open the pores and allow the salt/oil to fill up the pores. Remove from the heat and allow to cool gradually. Do it again if you are serious. Then when you use the pan heat it to medium before adding any fat. Let the fat heat up before adding the food. Put it in the pan and leave it alone until it's reached the same temp as the pan. Then stir it if you need to. NEVER wash any seasoned pan with soap. The chemicals in the soap WILL dissolve the oil in the pores and then you can start over agin. Just warm water and a wipe out with paper towel.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Puffin3

                      You clean a CI pan with salt. You don't use it to season.

                      And no oil. It leaves sticky residue. Use Crisco or lard.

                      And It's perfectly fine to clean a well seasoned CI pan with soap once in awhile. The notion that it will destroy the seasoning is totally false.

                      1. re: Puffin3

                        As I explained in another thread, the pores don't "open up." The "pores" are microscopic imperfections in the surface of the metal.. When you season a cast iron pan, fat is burned on the surface of the metal, leaving behind carbon that bonds to the metal surface and fills the imperfections and the surface to make it smoother, more impervious to sticking, and to protect it from rusting.

                        Don't use salt. It adds nothing to the process. I suppose you are using it because it makes a mixture of the oil that is easier to spread and makes it appear that the oil is sticking better to the pan.

                        And also, you can't really season stainless steel. I noticed there is a lot on the internet about seasoning stainless steel, but all that really happens is that the pan is coated with oil and not washed. The internet is also full of the silly concept about pores opening up. Doesn't happen. Not with cast iron and certainly not with stainless steel. In addition, stainless steel won't bond to the carbonized fat the way raw cast iron or carbon steel does, so you're not really seasoning stainless steel, you're just wiping a layer of oil on it and the oil stays there because you don't wash the pan.

                        You're better off just using the stainless steel pan the way it's intended: heat it up, put cold fat (butter, oil, etc.) and then put the food in.

                        1. re: taos

                          yes, i'd never heard of "seasoning" stainless steel, either.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            It's surprising how much this idea of the necessity to season stainless steel has spread all over the internet. I've even read on the good old internet that the salt "opens up the pores" in the metal. This is total nonsense...

                        2. re: Puffin3

                          And one does NOT season stainless steel

                        3. Like Chemicalkinetics pointed out, the sugar in the bacon is what made it stick, and is actually the worst thing that you can cook for the first use. If you have not tried bacon cooked in the oven, you are missing out, it turns out perfect every time, without the spatter mess.

                          1. Some have pointed to the sugar as the reason for sticking.

                            Another possible reason (or contributing reason) might have something to do with the proteins in the meat. I experience this most with fish, but occasionally with bacon too. That is, even in a seasoned pan with oil, the proteins in meat (especially fish) "grip" imperfections in the surface of the pan. At a certain temperature, these proteins "relax". So if you put fish or even bacon in a pan and then immediately try to flip it, it will be stuck. If you simply wait a minute or so, you can flip it with ease.

                            In my experience, this is true for many types of meat. The meat will let you know when it is time to flip. If it doesn't let you, then it is not time.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: ttochow

                              I find this brown-and-release concept true as well, with all meats EXCEPT bacon. There is just something about pork fat and sugar that is very sticky. As mentioned upthread, BAKING it makes much easier and tastier bacon, anyway.

                              1. re: ttochow

                                All meat I fry in my CI will stick some. Even bacon. The best thing I have found to cook in a newly seasoned CI pan is bread. Especially southern style cornbread. It may take a 2 or more times before the bread slides out, but it works great.
                                Now there are many recepies for cornbread. My cornbread is very simple and does contain lard or bacon grease. It is cornmeal, egg, milk or buttermilk. Preheat the skillet in the oven, put a good scoop of pork fat or crisco shortening (if you don't eat pork). Make sure the grease is hot enough for the batter to cook when you pour it in. I pour excess grease in my batter and stir it up, then pour the batter back in the skillet and bake in the oven. This does more for my CI than anything else. If I don't want or need the cornbread, I just throw it out for the birds and squirrels. It is never wasted.

                                1. re: dixiegal

                                  would you mind posting the exact cornbread recipe? It sounds great. And by the way, the pan I originally mentioned is 8", probably too small for the recipe... maybe I'll just use my 11" skillet! Or just use some of the batter in the 8". thanks!

                                  1. re: ochound

                                    >And by the way, the pan I originally mentioned is 8", probably too small for the recipe...<

                                    Nope. 8 inch is perfect. That is what I use unless I am cooking for more than just my family or I have a bigger skillet that I want to season.

                                    I don't have an exact recepie. I just kind of eyeball it. It depends on how thick you want the cornbread. If I am seasoning, I try to fill the skillet up. For the 8 inch skillet, about 2 cups of self rising cornmeal. I kind of like Martha White. Then 1 large egg. Then enough milk or buttermilk (buttermilk taste the best) to have the batter about like pancake batter. Before you mix all that up, preheat your skillet in an oven about 400 degrees. When it is hot, put the bacon grease (taste the best) or lard or crisco shortening in. I don't know how much. I usually scoop it out with a tablespoon. Not the measuring kind, the kind you eat with. When it melts there is probably about 1/4 inch deep grease. Give or take. Then I pop it back in the oven to make sure the grease is going to be hot enought to start cooking the batter the second I pour it in. If not, it will probably stick on you. Then I bake it at about 400 for, maybe 40 min? I usually know it is getting close to done when I can smell it. LOL I just keep checking on it until it is brown. Depending on how deep the batter is, how long it will take.

                                    It may stick on you the first 2 or 3 times, but then it will slide out beautifully. My mom was so anal about that, that she had on 8 inch skillet that was only used for cornbread.

                                    After the cornbread is done, I usually just wipe it out. That is about the only time that I do not fully wash my CI. If there is some bread stuck, I will put water in it to soften it up then give it a quick scrub. Dry it off and put it away, or cook some more. If no bread is stuck, just wipe all the excess grease and crumbs and put it away. Unless I think I may not use it for a long time. Then I wash all the grease out. Grease and oil attracts dust and will eventually go rancid. Blek.

                                    some people add sugar to their cornbread as have eye. But sugar has a tendency to be sticky, so I would wait until the skillet has a good seasoning on it. I prefer my cornbread without sugar. If I want sugar, I would just rather make a cake.

                                    If you have no problem with pork, bacon grease in the cornbread is the way to go. It has the most flavor.:o)

                                    Sorry I could not be more exact in my recepie. Maybe someday I will actually measure everything. When I first started making it as a child, I used mom's 'cornbread batter bowl'. I new just how far the cornmeal was suppose to come up too. When I moved out, I then had to figure it out on my own, because I did not have a bowl like that. LOL

                                    If using a bigger skillet, just add more grease, more cornmeal, more milk and an extra egg. Oh and cornbread freezes ok too. My mother in law freezes leftover cornbread to make dressing with.

                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                      Sorry, Dixie, for not acknowledging your "recipe" sooner- thanks for that. No problem about the imprecise approach... My mom cooked like that too!

                              2. Make some fried chicken in the pan - the high heat and large quantity of oil will work wonders.

                                1. You have lots of options. I have had good results preheating the oven to 350, and drop in a glass baking pan with bacon. It does a nice job. I mean really nice. You get good bacon.