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Suggestions for using cast iron pan

After many decades of cooking I finally purchased a cast iron pan-
I am finding it difficult to use and clean.

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    1. re: magiesmom

      The first time I used it-no
      after that I seasoned and just wiped clean and reapplied oil
      I put 2 chicken thighs in it skin side down for 10 minutes-other side 5 minutes
      and now in oven-

      there was some bits left in pan

      1. re: jpr54_1

        Some people say that it can only be seasoned properly with animal fat (like lard) and to not use soap when cleaning thereafter.

        1. re: rudeboy

          I agree with using lard but I use detergent on my cast iron all the time without any issues and have for at least 20 years.

          1. re: rasputina

            a little soap never hurts as long as you rinse it off and dry well. A good long soak would be another story but I also use soap when needed.

          2. re: rudeboy

            I seasoned mine with coconut oil. Works great anyway. :)

            But no, no soap.

          3. re: jpr54_1

            Just chicken thighs or was there oil too? Cast iron is not non stick, not early on.

              1. re: jpr54_1

                You probably preheated and cooked at too high a temp - cast iron holds so much heat that you rarely need more than medium, depending on your stove - and turned the chicken before the skin released on its own.

        2. Welcome to the word of cast iron - CI can be great for many things but there is a bit of a learning curve to get used to it - don't worry the more you use it the better feel for it you will get.

          Seasoning a pan is not "instant", the first seasoning is a base - the pan's seasoning will develop over time, with use and proper care.

          Here are some things you will need to care for your pan

          Kosher Salt
          White Vinegar
          A Dobie type scrubbie
          A high smoke point oil or lard

          At first cook with more fat than you would like - fry, make bacon etc.

          When you cook make sure to preheat the pan - CI heats more slowly than other cookware - don't use more than medium heat and don't add food until the pan and fat is heated

          when you are done using your pan wipe it out and then
          clean it with the kosher salt and scrubbie use vinegar to lubricate. Remove any stuck bits - you want the hard carbonized seasoning to stay but not gross bits of food

          you can use some soap and water if you must but go easy

          dry your pan on a low burner and then wipe very lightly with oil while still warm

          It may seem complicated but its really easy once you get used to it

          9 Replies
          1. re: JTPhilly

            everything except the lard/fat

              1. re: VeganVick

                first-I have high cholesterol
                second-I used to keep kosher and don't like lard

              2. re: jpr54_1

                you will need a high smoke point oil/fat to get your pan seasoned - If you do not want to use pork fat, as many do not, I suggest a high smoke point oil like grapeseed or rice bran. If you do not want to consume the fat then I suggest using one of these high smoke point oils to season. but it really does help to fry in deep fat a few times - maybe make French fries - and feed them to someone else - or just toss -. them but without an initial good dose of some sort of fat your pan will not develop the seasoning - which is ultimately carbonized oil or fat.

                1. re: JTPhilly

                  Agree with JTPhilly in that you can use a small amount of detergent when cleaning. I would take it even farther and say that it does need to be animal fat. Almost any oil that I've ever used leaves a stickiness. Lots of people use veg oil for an initial seasoning and then treat the pan like any other. Then it is used infrequently, which also contributes to degradation and collection of dust on the sticky surface.

                  Like JTPhilly says, heat to dry and then lightly wipe with fat. The amount used will not in any way affect your cholesterol.

                  If you are kosher or follow Islam, you could probable use beef fat. I usually use bacon grease cause it's always around.

                  If you are vegan, I guess try sunflower oil or other high smoke.

                    1. re: VeganVick

                      Never tried that on anything. No stickiness?

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        None what so ever. Volrath recommends seasoning a CS pan 11 times. I did 6 or 7 and the results are amazing. Homefries just slide right off.

                    2. re: rudeboy

                      If one is keeping kosher chicken/goose fat would be the animal fats to use.

              3. Also look into debuyer mineral B iron pans. They are a lot lighter.

                1. Stainless scrubber...nothing is too hard to clean.

                  I don't waste good salt cleaning a pan.

                  You use it the same as most any heavy pan.

                  Don't try any "magic" seasonings...use it and it'll season itself. Immediate gratification is NOT what you get with cast iron.

                  1. Got reunited with CI a few years ago when I found 3 totally grungy, "name brand" skillets for a song at a yard sale. Since it was SUMMER, cleaning off the crud in self-clean cycle of oven was outta the question. Went quick & dirty with SEVERAL, liberal apps of cheap-o, $ store, spray oven cleaner.

                    Then reseasoned like my grandmother did... heat and bacon grease. I think on of the key things to success with CI is USE IT... as often as possible. If I cook something that won't just wipe out with paper towels, I use scrubber and cheap salt and lots of HOT water. Then back on burner till hot and another dab of BG.

                    Cast iron is... after all... CAST IRON... pretty darn tough to damage in any way.

                    1. Keeping at least one brush JUST for scrubbing your CI is useful... I have a cheapie dollar store plastic bristle brush I use... Brass bristle would probably be even better...

                      When I first moved to California almost 3 years ago my first pan was a 10" Lodge cast iron skillet I got for $12+ tax at TJ Maxx - factory second...

                      Cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for two adults with it using a stainless steel spatula, I noticed it got pretty non stick and slick pretty quick!

                      I generally cook with animal fats (tallow, lard, schmaltz & clarified butter).

                      1. At first, just use it to fry fatty things, or to fry things in plenty of fat. To clean, wash with hot water and scrape with a hard plastic or metal spatula to get the crusties off. Another thing that helps season a pan is to bake the no-knead style of bread in it.

                        After you clean it, set it on a hot burner until the water is evaporated. Add just a drop or two of whatever fat you want to the pan, and kind of burnish it off with a paper towel. You don't want to leave the pan oily--that will lead to stickiness.

                        Use an old cloth towel if you have one of those new lodge pans with the pebbly finish--a paper towel will leave bits of lint behind in those.

                        After a few years, you will have a good finish this way, without too much work.

                        Mostly, don't worry. You can't ruin it--if it gets rusty, scrub the rust off with a brillo pad and start again. I (RARELY) forget about mine and leave it in the sink all night full of water, and it cleans up just fine. But don't do that at first. And I use a little dishsoap, too. Don't judge me. :)