Cast iron cleaning: best methods?

Discussion in 'Camping and Outdoor Gear' started by bigndn, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. bigndn

    bigndn

    Messages:
    4,590
    Location:
    Eagle, ID
    I know not to wash it with soap and water.

    I've always put some water in it and heated it until most of the food is gone or is easily scraped off. Then I use a green scratchy pad on it, rinse, and dry on the stove.

    When it needs re-seasoning, I put some grease in it and bake it in the oven at 200 for several hours. Then I let it cool and remove the excess grease.

    This was the method my grandmother and mother used, but I heard recently to scrub them with salt, so I'm curious.

    How do you clean and re-season your cast iron goodness? Thanks!
  2. rusty_tlc

    rusty_tlc Dain Bramaged Member

    Messages:
    11,581
    Location:
    Reno, NV
    Once you have a good season all you need to do is wipe the inside with a paper towel and some oil. If some thing does stick I just heat the pot, pan, griddle up until it "cooks" then use a burger spatula* to scrape it off.

    *If you go to a restaurant supply place and ask for a burger spatula they will most likely show you a short square spatula made with thick metal and a sharp bevel on the end. They are perfect for flipping burgers and scraping stuck food off of cast iron. It's the same tool you see short order cooks use to clean a flat top.
  3. Chop Shop

    Chop Shop

    Messages:
    805

    The flipper should be stainless steel to avoid problems with flaking chrome on cheap flippers.

    I had a hard time finding a SS flipper unless it was at an expensive cooking store.

    Then I realized all the cheapy BBQ tool sets are SS most of the time. I went and stole the BBQ flipper off the porch and havent wore it out yet!.
  4. Chop Shop

    Chop Shop

    Messages:
    805
    You want to have the pan seasoned with some crisco or save some bacon grease.

    Dont use veggie oil, it burns at too low of a temp. Real shortening or grease will work much better.

    Get the pan warm enough to flow grease on it. Then wipe it down on ALL surfaces. Then put a cookie sheet with foil on it on the bottom rack of the oven. Put the pan on the middle rack. Get the oven to 400-500 degrees. 200 is not enough, that just enough to melt grease but not cure the grease into a nice brownish black slick surface. You want hi heat to smoke the grease off and cure the remaining grease on for the long haul. Do this about three times letting the pan cool between each cycle.

    Ever notice the nasty grease layer that collects on the bottom/outside of a deep fryer? Its a nice dark brown clearish coating that you cant scrub off. Thats what you want to happen to the cast iron pans. Leave a layer that is impervious to water.

    Stuck food/cleaning.

    NEVER leave food in a cast pan. Remove it AS SOON as it is finished cooking and clean the pan ASAP while its still warm. You should never and I repeat NEVER eat dinner before the pans are maintained.
    If food is stuck, scrape it off. If it is thick and kinda soft it will just goober up your scraper/flipper so put just enough crisco in the pan so when it melts you can tip the pan and see it run but not deep enough to puddle. Then take you flipper and smooth the grease over the nasty spot till it starts to lift the stuck stuff, then use the scraper to work it off.

    When done the scraper/flipper should produce a nice metal on metal sound ALL OVER the pans cooking surface. If it sounds quiet and feels a little different work it with grease till all you see is black iron and it sounds and feels clean.

    If you have some stubborn nasty or ALLOT of it then get the tap water as hot as possible and then with a hot pan put a little hot water in it and let it boil up the nasties. Food is organic, and organic stuff floats so it will boil it up until its loose.

    NEVER use soap. Soap is a degreaser and will ruin your pan.

    Some people think they are cooking on seasoned cast iron, when in fact they are cooking on cast iron pans the wrong way if not seasoned and cared for properly.

    I have a pan from a harbor freight set that I bought just to experiment with. I seasoned it (HF sells then RAW) properly and cooked perfect runny yolk eggs in it the first time it was ever used.

    Wait to flip stuff and use low heat. Things will stick to cast, but only till its cooked. If your an early flipper then cast will leave stuff stuck, but if you are doing it right then the cast will "let go" when the food is ready to be flipped.


    I never have to clean my pans. I scrape them and use a nasty ol rag saturated with grease to wipe them out.

    I hate paper towels. They leave dingleberries on your pan. I dont like eating paper towel bits with my next meal. Get a little tiny pan and keep it on the stove with the grossest, nasty grease rag in it. Then just grab it and set it in the pan till you feel the heat soften the rag and wipe it out over the garbage can and your done. The rag should have plenty of grease on it so you can just leave the crisco tub put away.

    NEVER use a brillo or steel wool on a cast pan unless its rusty and being refurbished. Never to clean tho.

    Most of the time I cook bacon for breakfast I just leave the bacon grease and tidbits in the pan and put a lid on it. Then when its time to fry up some taters for dinner I already have grease in the pan and the taters will get the bacon bits fried right onto them. YUMM! I keenly avoid disposing of the bacon mess and cleaning and also avoid the prep for taters, all ready to go and great tasting too.
  5. rusty_tlc

    rusty_tlc Dain Bramaged Member

    Messages:
    11,581
    Location:
    Reno, NV
    That's why I mentioned the restaurant supply store, you will be surprised at the prices in most of them, I have a ton of commercial grade stuff in my kitchen.
  6. lard is the best to season them with but you need to get it from a local small time butcher shop!
  7. firetruck41

    firetruck41

    Messages:
    5,735
    Location:
    Camas, WA USA
    I don't think I would use an abrasive/green pad on it. I use warm water and a plastic scraper if there is food stuck on it. If you use water, dry it off immediately after you are done.
  8. pegasis0066

    pegasis0066

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    SW Ohio
    I have read to put salt in it right after removing the food, acts a natural scouring/abrasive agent.

    I have had mixed results.

    On another note, I often have sticking problems and left over carbon-like deposits that required hard scrubbing/scrapping.

    Once or twice a year, I put no heat oven cleaner in it, cover or put in a big zip lock, and let sit for 24-48 hours. After I re-season.
  9. Chop Shop

    Chop Shop

    Messages:
    805
    You need to lower the heat.
  10. pegasis0066

    pegasis0066

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    SW Ohio
    ^ was thinking that but have seen steak recipes that say to put it in the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.
  11. Chop Shop

    Chop Shop

    Messages:
    805
    Keep the heat low and the sugar away.

    Things like BBq sauce, steak sauce and hamburger helper all like to stick to cast and then burn or carmalize and be a pain to clean out.

    Keep the sugar containing items away.

    For things like H-helper I will brown the meat in cast and simmer it in a cheapy nostick pan.

    Low heat, low heat, I cant say it enough.

  12. pegasis0066

    pegasis0066

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    SW Ohio
    No sugar on my steak - still sticks a bit, and leaves carbon-type deposits.
  13. Chop Shop

    Chop Shop

    Messages:
    805
    Low heat and put a little bit of crisco in the pan, just enough to keep the pan glossy/wet looking.
  14. firetruck41

    firetruck41

    Messages:
    5,735
    Location:
    Camas, WA USA
    Haven't heard of cooking a steak on low heat. Usually you want high heat to sear the meat and keep the juices in, at least initially... I haven't found many deposits that a metal spatula can't scrape from the bottom of the pan.
  15. GLTHFJ60

    GLTHFJ60 Rum Runnin'

    Messages:
    14,457
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Throughout my beef grilling research, I have never read that searing the meat keeps the juice in. Slow(er) cooking will always lend to a juicer, more tender steak. High heat will dry it out.
  16. firetruck41

    firetruck41

    Messages:
    5,735
    Location:
    Camas, WA USA
    Interesting perspective, the best steaks I have cooked have been paper towel dried, room temp, salt/pepper, let it sit for a while, put it in very hot skillet to sear both sides, then put in oven to reach your desired doneness, or just do it all on a hot gas grill. I love to do this with rib-eye, or cheaper but just about the same result "chuck-eye" (local butcher says it is essentially the end of the ribeye section, don't ask me, I'm not a butcher...). I came to make them that way after reading a few recipe books/web sites and seeing how the best ones are cooked at the fire station (every other dinner, at least, is made on the grill). I don't know if the searing actually "keeps the juices in", but the steak is very good.
  17. NorCalDoug

    NorCalDoug problems solved daily... SILVER Star

    Messages:
    6,128
    Location:
    uhhhh...duh...Northern CA
    I'm with firetruck41.
    for steaks, you're gonna want to have the heat high enough to sear. not necessarily to lock the juices in, as many are told, but to get the maillard reaction started.
    high heat to begin, then finish off in the oven to complete the cooking.
    that's how I've always done it for most steaks.

    for many larger cuts of meats, a slower, lower heat will produce a more tender product with a more even doneness throughout.
  18. Liam

    Liam

    Messages:
    5,082
    Location:
    in the nappy dugout
    are you ****ing stupid? High heat will only dry your steak out if you leave it on there an hour.

    you slow cook tough cuts like knuckles, ribs, shoulder cuts, etc....but you cook middle meats like ribeyes, striploins, tenders, topbutts, etc on wicked high heat.

    you should just stick to the GMarshall method of cooking your steaks...microwave them because clearly you dont deserve anything better....
  19. GLTHFJ60

    GLTHFJ60 Rum Runnin'

    Messages:
    14,457
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    First of all, ****face, my comment was directed towards searing the meat as a means to keep the juice in. The reason you sear a meat is to caramelize the sugars and brown the proteins in the meat to create a flavorful crust, which is done over high heat. Then you finish cooking the meat at a lower temperature, depending on cut of course, so you don't make the whole thing tough and dry, exactly as firetruck and norcaldoug said. I have cooked many a good cut of filet by searing at first and then finishing in the oven.

    If you are cooking a really thin cut then you can get away with only cooking at high heat as the searing process penetrates more of the meat. Thicker cuts of meat, as in filets and tenderloins, need to be cooked longer at a lower temperature not because the meat is tough but because the meat is thicker and it takes longer for the heat to penetrate the entire piece.

    ________________________________________________________________


    Getting back on track here, I have a 14" cast iron skillet that I use to cook everything with while camping. If it gets really nasty, I heat it up with water in it and scrape all the **** out with a spatula, then season it again. Cooking bacon in it right after cleaning is my preferred way to season cast iron.
  20. Go with the Frank Zappa method of cooking "keep it greasy so it goes down easy"

Share This Page