Monday, September 1, 2014

Cast Iron Rescue Mission

A few days back, I got the following comment from Silvia on my post on Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware:

"Hi Derek, was wondering if I can send a photo of my cast iron and see ur opinion on what should I do about it. I tried seasoning after messing it a bit (I am new to cast iron cooking and care so I didn't take proper care of the initial factory seasoning). I used corn oil and the pan became sticky and kinda had streaks of oil, maybe I was too "liberal" with the oil or maybe corn oil is not ok. The pan turned brown:( (1hr 15 min at 450 in the oven) I then tried cooking in it and food got stuck real bad..

Nothing helped cleaning it so I popped the pan on the BBQ and the burned food kinda turned to ash (most of it) and I scraped off most of it. At this point I understand seasoning is GONE and my pan is in a bad shape. I need ur advice if I need to clean it more (based on photo) and re-season it with canola oil or what to do:( I know the good thing about cast iron is that it can be saved:) 
Please help!!"

I asked Silvia to send in some photos of her pan (first she sent me her email address via a comment that I did not publish). I thought I'd share the photos and conversation in hopes that it is helpful to others.

A few observations from Silvia's initial comment:

1) She notes that the pan is sticky after using corn oil to season it. This almost certainly means that the seasoning hasn't cured yet, and instead of a hard, dry coating, the oil has thickened only enough to be sticky. More time in the oven should fix the problem. I use organic canola oil for all of my seasoning, and am not as familiar with corn oil. It may be that corn oil takes more time to harden in the oven. Flaxseed oil is also a good choice.

2) The food stuck badly when she tried using it. I've found that food will readily stick even to well-seasoned cast iron if two things aren't done: The first thing is to always start with a shiny pan. Drizzle some oil into the pan and wipe it all over with a paper towel. The second is to make sure the pan is good and hot prior to putting the food in.

OK, on to the photos:

My initial thought is that the pan looks pretty good. With a solid oven seasoning, I think Silvia is on her way to a well-seasoned skillet.

New cast iron can turn brown or other colors in the early stages, but as you use it it will gradually turn black.

Silvia, please let us know how your pan turns out after an oven seasoning and some good use. Thanks for writing in!