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Ghost flavors in cast iron skillets

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I have a new cast iron skillet and I have been avoiding cooking things with strong flavors in it because I don't want my cornbread to taste like curry. Is this concern justified, or are ghost flavors not really a problem? Do any of you have any experience with this?

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  1. Good move on your part. I have a naked cast iron Dutch oven that is rarely used for anything but pot roast involving bay leaf and cloves. For decades, it has been emitting the aroma of those herbs. On the other hand, as a consequence, it makes better pot roast than my other cast iron pieces and I treasure it for that. Naked cast iron is cheap. If I wanted to make cornbread and tarte tatin and the like in a cast iron frying pan, I'd get myself a second, dedicated one.

    1. Residual flavors are part of the charm of cast iron cookware.

      1. Ghost flavors is definitely a real problem. This is due to two reasons. First, the seasoning carbon layer has a strong odor/flavor absorbing ability. Second, you cannot aggressively clean a cast iron pan skillet like a stainless steel surface pan. The combination of both makes it very likely for flavor to carry over.

        Personally, it rarely causes any real trouble for me.

        1. Curry flavored cornbread? Sounds good to me. But I don't care. I've never had much of a problem, even after frying trout or bluegill. And all I use to clean is hot tap water and a nylon brush, and then a quick thin coat of shortening on the pan before I put it upside down on the burner.

          1. I haven't really experienced ghost flavors and I use my CI extensively. I am not much for cornbread, however. Mostly I sauté, bake or roast meats and veggies with lots of herbs and spices. I also use to stir fry in lieu of a wok.

            I am liking the idea of curry cornbread, though, darn you.

            1. I've not really found carry-over flavors to be an issue in cast iron--though I don't make sauces in mine.

              The one time that I had an issue was when I made salmon in my small cast iron skillet and the next couple of dishes had a faint fishiness to them.

              1. I have no idea what you're referring to. I don't get ghost flavors. But I also don't cook curry in bare cast iron, I use my enameled cast iron for that. I do cook fish on my bare cast iron though and I've never had ghost flavors. My most used pieces are vintage though, over 80 years old and well seasoned.

                1. It would seem like it ought to be a problem, but as a practical matter doesn't seem to be an issue for me. While the seasoning does absorb flavors, it also seems to mellow them way out. (I haven't tried fish, but suspect that might be trouble.)