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Rice Porridge Turning Black When Cooking in Cast Iron

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Good morning and Happy New Year!

I didn't see this topic on Chowhound, so if it is redundant, please forgive me.

I make rice porridge by boiling short-grain brown rice and adzuki beans, letting them simmer for an hour, then letting them sit overnight, as per Soto Zen tradition. I love to use my new 3-quart Lodge 10.25" dutch oven, but doing so stains my rice and beans black. I wash and strain them afterwards, and this removes some of the blackness, but some remains. First question: what is the black stuff? Second: is this killing me in some way? Third: is there any way I can reduce or prevent it?

Background: when I got the Lodge LCC3 (combination 3-qt. dutch oven and shallow skillet [doubles as lid]), it had chips in the preseasoning, so I decided to re-season using the self-cleaning oven method, then scrubbing with vinegar and steel wool to get it down to bare metal. I baked on 3 coats of Crisco shortening. The pans did not turn jet black as I was hoping, but sort of a very dark reddish brown. I have not cooked anything in the dutch oven other than the rice porridge, and cooking in the shallow skillet part does not turn my food black.

Does anyone have some advice for a novice in both cooking and cast iron?

Thank you!

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  1. I'm not sure what or why, but I always thought cast iron was for searing, sauteeing, and frying, i.e. fat-based cooking methods, not water-based like boiling beans. I understand being excited about a new dutch oven, but this may not be the best vessel for rice and beans.

    1 Reply
    1. re: babette feasts

      Yeah, that was my understanding as well, but in the Zen Macrobiotic Cookbook, the author suggests always cooking rice in cast iron pots. Maybe his were seasoned much better?

    2. If you have to wash your food after cooking it, something is wrong. I'd use stainless or enameled cast iron.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pikawicca

        I have an either glass or ceramic 2qt. pot that is probably just as healthy and still much better than non-stick, I would imagine.

      2. It sounds like the seasoning on your dutch oven is flaking off. You may have had some tiny rust spots that prevented the shortening from fully polymerizing, or the layers were too thick. I'd try to strip it and re-season.

        2 Replies
        1. re: phofiend

          Ugh. The thought of that is not pleasing, but it may be my only option.

          1. re: Bluefugue

            There are a couple of schools of thought for cleaning cast iron after each use. Some people never even use water to clean it, and I think this is one of the downsides of that philosophy. When you heat the DO and then wipe a lightly oiled paper towel over it, does the towel turn dark as you wipe all the crud off the surface? if so, you may just need to give it a good dose of boiling water, some elbow grease and a "touch-up" seasoning in the oven. That's much less work than stripping it and starting over.

        2. Thank you for all the comments, everyone!

          1. This is from the Lodge Manufacturing Company:

            "Metallic Taste
            If your food gets a metallic taste, or food turns "black", it means one of two things are wrong. Either your pot has not been sufficiently seasoned, or you are leaving the food in the pot after it has been cooked. Cast iron utensils are NOT to be used as storage vessels.
            Remove food from the cookware as soon as it is cooked. Always clean your utensils immediately with boiling hot water and brush. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Prior to storing, oil very lightly with vegetable shortening, such as Crisco or spray with a shortening spray, such as Pam, then wipe dry with paper towel. Store in a dry place uncovered. This is especially important in humid climates. If you put a lid on a pot for storage, condensation could occur causing rust. Give your pot clean, dry air in a place where the temperature is fairly stable.

            Nutritional Benefit of Ironware
            You may not be aware that iron cookware imparts a significant amount of dietary iron to your food, which is absorbed by the body. In other words cast iron is the healthiest cookware on the market."

            I tried to make pear butter once in cast iron, it turned quite black too. And tasted of metal.

            1 Reply
            1. re: blue room

              I would NEVER use Pam on cast iron...I don't know what they're thinking! It will eventually cause a stcky residue on the cookware.

            2. The "reddish" part bothers me - sounds like rust! Areyou paying attention to proper drying of your pan?

              Also, NEVER store food in cast iron. You will cause it to rust!

              For extra cleaning power, scrub with salt.