5 Myths of the Cast Iron Pan Explained

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5 Myths of the Cast Iron Pan Explained

Postby wired » Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:23 pm

Food & Drink - LEISURE
5 Myths of the Cast Iron Pan Explained
By Sasha Bogursky

Published November 09, 2011
| FoxNews.com
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Lodge Cast Iron Cookware
Cooking with cast iron pans can be tricky. They're heavy and rust easily. But they last forever (if properly treated) and also retain heat longer, making them an ideal pan to keep food warm. That's why people love them. But a quick Internet search on how to correctly cook and clean these pans turns up loads of contradictory information.

Some say to always clean the pan with soap and others say soap will be the death of your pan. Or perhaps you've been told cooking with a cast iron pan is a good way to absorb iron, however, there are those who believe that the frying pan will add unwanted metals into your food.

It's time to put these myths to rest. FoxNews.com consulted certified master chef, David Kellaway, managing director of the Culinary Institute of America's San Antonio campus to finally set the record straight.

Myth or Fact: Cleaning With Soap Ruins the Pan

Chef Kellaway says to pick your battles when it comes to washing your pan with soap. "You can wash it with soap if you had a particularly messy sticky cooking session," he said. "But you need to re-season immediately. Get it as clean as you can, dry it, coat it with oil inside and out and then bake it at 350 degrees for an hour and a half or so."

Seasoning prevents the pan from rusting, which can occur if the pan is left slightly wet overnight.

Myth or Fact: Metal Utensils Scratch the Surface

I remember my mom telling me wooden spoons are the only way to go so you won’t damage the pan's surface. But after all these years, it turns out it has nothing to do with the pan's surface. "A cast iron pan that you’ve been using on a regular basis with some hot water washing and thorough drying will overtime build up from the cooking process a very thin layer of carbon," explained Chef Kellaway. "If you then are in the habit of using metal utensils and you begin scraping the bottom of the pan, the thin layer of carbon gets scratched up into the food."

While the carbon layer is not harmful or toxic, it will discolor your food. Wooden or silicone utensils are preferable.

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Myth or Fact: Cast Iron Pans Heat Evenly

Cast iron pans are excellent heat conductors, thereby making them ideal for cooking. The belief is that it might not distribute as evenly as an aluminum pan of the same size, but not so says Kellaway.

"Cast iron distributes heat very nicely," said Chef Kellaway. "It's not used commercially because of the weight and the care required to keep them clean without rusting."

Myth or Fact: Once Rust Appears, it's Time to Throw it Out

If rust begins to form in your pan, do not throw it out! Chef Kellaway says to simply start at square one.

"Scour it with a Brillo pad and wipe it with some dense shortening and allow it to get hot. Once it's cool, wipe off the grease and repeat this process until your pan is rust-free."

While your pan may not be as good as new, Chef Kellaway says when it comes to cast iron pans, "well used" is what to be expected.

Myth or Fact: Cooking With a Cast Iron Pan Gives You Nutrients

"I don’t have lab data on that but I think that if all of your hot food was prepared in hot iron pan that might be true," he said. "But since people don't use the pan all the time, the amount of iron you would get is so minimal."

Now that that's all settled, get out your cast iron pan and start cooking!


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/11/ ... z1dFXm1Gpm
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Postby eaglesdare » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:19 pm

a good scrubbing and coke took care of the rust for me. i found an old cast iron pan stuck in the back of the cabinet. it just looked pitiful. after cleaning it up, it now sits proudly on top of the stove. cleanest looking pan in the house.
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Re: 5 Myths of the Cast Iron Pan Explained

Postby starleen2 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:17 pm

wired wrote:Myth or Fact: Metal Utensils Scratch the Surface

I remember my mom telling me wooden spoons are the only way to go so you won’t damage the pan's surface. But after all these years, it turns out it has nothing to do with the pan's surface. "A cast iron pan that you’ve been using on a regular basis with some hot water washing and thorough drying will overtime build up from the cooking process a very thin layer of carbon," explained Chef Kellaway. "If you then are in the habit of using metal utensils and you begin scraping the bottom of the pan, the thin layer of carbon gets scratched up into the food."

While the carbon layer is not harmful or toxic, it will discolor your food. Wooden or silicone utensils are preferable.


I'm going to call a personal BS on this one. I'd be more worried about the silicone leaching out than I would be about the scratching out of the seasoned layer. And lets not get started on the cleaning of wooden utensils either. Have you ever tried removing a good seasoned layer? It's a lot harder than you may think if your're going to sand it off. Use your CI don't baby it!
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Postby Dusty82 » Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:34 am

Anecdotally, I'll say that we've used nothing but wooden and metal utensils in our cast iron and it's never damaged anything at all. I use a springy steel spatula all the time - especially for fried potatoes. It gets all the crusty/crunchy bits that want to stick to the bottom of the skillet.

For rust, I just scrub the area with a stainless steel Chore Boy and a little bit of plain white vinegar, rinse it thoroughly, then season the piece.
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Postby ironhead » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:20 pm

Lots of misinformation from people in the comment section of that article :thumbdown:
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Postby 46Kit » Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:32 pm

Nice kilt, Dusty! What tartan are you sporting?

I recently acquired some new/old cast iron skillets, a pre-war Griswold #6 and a post-war Wagner #8 & #5. Tried the electrolysis method of cleaning and gotta say this process yields pretty spectacular results if you've got the patients and a good battery charger. Seasoned the lot of them with olive oil (because that's what was on hand...) and got sort of mixed results, I suspect because 350º-375ºF is not hot enough for the high smoke-point E.V.O.O. The seasoning was well adhered and not at all sticky, but I don't think it was fully carbonized. Subsequently cranked the temp up to 475ºF and got a better result. Just the same, first time I tried cooking something other than bacon in Ole Number Six my spring steel spatula did scrape off a bit of the seasoning here and there. Reckon that E.V.O.O. was still not fully carbonized even though it had done at least 3 sessions in the oven at +450ºF! Re-seasoned it with Crisco at 375ºF and obtained a much better result. Now it's just a matter of cooking with it as much as possible so that layer of carbon continues to build up!

Never had a problem with metal utensils in my old/old Griswold #9 that's still wearing the seasoning it came to me with many years ago. It's a bit crusty on the outside, but the layer of carbon on the cooking surface is flat black perfection! My wife noticed that the freshly seasoned skillets get hotter more quickly than the old one so I guess that layer of carbon must act as insulation until it comes up to temp as well, but we've NEVER had anything stick to it in the 8 years or so that we've been using it. The freshly seasoned skillets were a bit grabby at first, but it's fun and interesting to watch the seasoning develop on the pieces that were stripped back to bare cast iron!

In the vintage motorcycle world we say "Ride 'em, don't hide 'em!" I think we need to come up with a salutation for the cast iron enthusiast that expresses similar sentiment. Any suggestions?

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Postby DragonFire » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:54 pm

Looks like Lindsay tartan from here...

I recently cleaned the rust from our old CI griddle and reseasoned it...there is still a bit of rust underneath and maybe I'll try the cola trick this time instead of scrubbing and vinegar...

when I used it for sourdough pancakes last weekend it stuck a bit...I kept adding crisco and soon it was as good as, well..., um...it was good.

I went back to using metal on the CI. I've never had a scratch or any other problem with it. Wood harbors germs, and plastic..well, heated plastic isn't great.

Just my opinion. Maybe I should try out the sourdough again this weekend!!
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Postby Corwin C » Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:09 pm

Taking care of cast iron is easy. The first secret is USE IT OFTEN, and clean it immediately after cooking. If you're using your cast iron it won't have time to rust. I use mine literally every time I get in front of the stove, camp chef, or campfire (not quite every day, but darn close.) The only thing I don't cook in cast iron is the sh...tuff that is heated in the microwave.

When cleaning, almost all of the time I simply rinse in the hottest water I can put my hands in and scrub (gently) with a plastic bristle brush. If the pan is too hot to pick up with your bare hands, let it cool down a little (they will break from thermal shock), but, that being said, a warm pan cleans easier. Dry VERY thoroughly. More often than not it goes on a burner for a minute or so to evaporate all of the water. I generally don't re-oil until I use the pan the next time.

When things get really stuck (in the order that I attempt) I have brought a small amount of water to a boil in the pan and then cleaned (this almost always works.) I have also scrubbed with plain table salt (works, but rough on the seasoning.) For those rare errant odors, I spritz with a little vinegar. And, finally, I have used the tiniest amount of soap (rinse SUPER well and apply oil immediately after drying). If it all fails, re-seasoning may be necessary (only happened once to me and it was from my negligence.)

I use metal utensils with no ill effects (but I'm not roughly scraping or gouging at the pan either.) Plastic utensils seem to get melted in my world, and wood/bamboo seem to get discolored and look grungy to me. Silicone scrapers are useful to get the last little bit of gravy out of the pan and onto the dinner plate, and silicone potholders are priceless to handle the hot pan and protect the counter and sink as trivets and "bump" protection.
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Postby DragonFire » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:08 pm

The rust happened when my mom lived in a really damp area..basically San Francisco. She stored the griddle in the cabinet..which was on an outside wall of the 1936 house she was living in. That means no insulation.

Before that she had that griddle for over 25 years and never had rust until she moved there. No I'm trying to undo the problem. After cleaning, I put it in the oven for awhile with the oven at about 200 degrees. Then I turned off the oven. Then I forgot it was there, until I needed the oven again. Oh, well, sourdough again next weekend, so I might as well keep it in the oven.

I would like to get all that rust off the underside, though. It bothers me.
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Postby bobhenry » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:02 am

Hey Dragonfire.......

Did all of the pancakes stick or just the first few ? The reason I asked is that I had that problem with my waffle iron, in that the first batch of two would stick. I soon learned to preheat the iron very hot. I would then spray with aerosol vegetable oil and if it smoked I would dump in the batter and none would stick. It seems that cool iron wants to stick to the cold batter. I now always preheat to smoking hot and my sticking problems are gone. Just a random dumb thought !

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Re: 5 Myths of the Cast Iron Pan Explained

Postby toypusher » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:24 pm

test
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Re: 5 Myths of the Cast Iron Pan Explained

Postby logman7777 » Mon May 07, 2012 11:39 pm

I agree with the hot pan , cold oil trick..Works everytime :)
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