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Discussion Starter #1
In the last couple of months, I have performed about 25 experiments on seasoning cast iron (and I have some pretty serious burns to prove it!).

I have perfected seasoning aluminum foil :) Yes, seasoning experiments go much faster when you put dabs of oils/fats/greases on foil and then stick them in the oven to see what they will do.

The big problem is, for lack of a better word, "mottling". I get beautiful seasoning on aluminum foil at 400 degrees for ten minutes. But with cast iron it comes out all .... spider-web-ish ... it's an oil and water looking sort of thing. The oil is sort of repeled from the pan.

Now this isn't bare iron - this is a piece that has been used a bit.

My next phases of experimentation are with bare iron or with iron that has been cleaned (gasp!) with soap!

Maybe build up carbon repels the oil?

So rather than burn off another 40 hours of failed experiments, I thought I would come here to plead and hopefully get some information.

Does anyone here know what I'm talking about?
 

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I have no problems seasoning when I use lard only. Also bring the heat up slowly, 200, 250, 300 ect, about an hour, top out at wide open. Let it cool at its own pace in the oven.
 

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plains of Colorado
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On brand new cast iron...I think oil is sticky but shortening is okay. Old stuff...the oil works.
 

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even with seasoned cast iron, remember -- Hot pan, cold oil food won't stick. I learned that in a wok class but works with any pan. Put your oil in a very hot pan and then when the oil heats up add the food.
 

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All of your pans are doing this or is it one in particular??

I have many cast iron pans and use them pretty much every day. I don't believe I have ever had the seasoning mottle on any of them. I've had old, new, stuff from junkyards that had to be burned off and started over, you name it LOL!

If it's one pan in particular, my first thought would be the pan itself....perhaps the iron/finish is inferior for whatever reason.

I read your article and it's a good one! One thing I'd add to it is the use of salt for cleaning. I clean my cast iron pans with salt....dump a few tablespoons in the pan and *scrub* with the salt. It really works great. You can also heat the pan up on the stove and add salt to it. When it gets smoky, start pushign the salt around with a wooden spoon (this works greta if you have something that REALLY got stuck on your pan). The flecks of food will work up into the salt as you shoosh it around with the wooden spoon.

ITA that bacon grease is one of the best things to season cast iron with. That was how I was taught to season and it's worked great for me over the years!

Really curious about your mottling though....you have me thinkin'!

:)
Shawna
 

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Keeping the Dream Alive
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Perhaps someone could just come up with a recipe for 'mottled eggs' or somesuch.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'll try the salt technique.

I suppose I should mention that in my studies/experiments I have learned that there are two basic kinds of seasoning.

One is a carbon seasoning. This is very black and kinda dull. I think it is fairly grainy. I have no problem making lots of this and all is fine.

The other seasoning, and probably the ultimate seasoning, is polymerized oil. This is where oil/fat/grease has some sort of molecular change and turns to something like a dark yellow paint. This looks glassy and is super hard. My attempts at this on raw aluminum sometimes work fine (if I put enough on and don't get the oven too hot). My attempts at this on a used pan consistently gives me the mottled seasoning.

Maybe a little salt ...
 

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Paul, there's a couple of things that causes the mottling(and yes, I've accomplished the same thing in carefully controlled, monitored, laboratory setting-read kitchen).
One, is that PERHAPS the cast iron wasn't thoroughly cleaned prior to seasoning. It doesn't hurt to try this angle, other than time. A stiff brush and a dot of soap, and LOTS of elbow grease and hot water(of COURSE it's gonna strip al that auburn tint off), apply a THIN coat of Crisco(A dab of Crisco on a paper towel) and make certian that ALL surfaces are treated. As posted above, start at a lower temp, upside down pan, and increase to about 350...really doesn't need to go any higher, in my opinion...for an hour. Turn off oven, and let cool completely. Works for me, and no mottling.
Secondly, the oven temp was too high, causing the fats(Veg, animal, etc..) to break down, and create that lovely art nuveau pattern that everyone in Europe raves about.

Nutshell? Ease up on the heat. IMHO, 350 is fine. All we're trying to do is liquify the fats. so they'll penetrate the micro pores of the cast iron...

Do I make any sense? Seldom...

Good Luck,
Joe...
 

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I just read the following on a yahoo group today:

"New cast iron simply isn't like Grandma's (or Mom's.) If you purchased your cast iron new off the department store shelf, it has a bumpy, bubbly bottom on the cook surface vs. smooth like a baby's bottom - and I mean smooth, like glass. It's those bumps that are eating your lunch. (Pardon the pun.) To make the new skillets usable, you (or hubby) need to take a power sander to it to smooth it out - just like Emeril did, only hard core.

Being the hands-on gal I am, I pulled out my hubby's orbital sander, some 80 & 100 grit sand paper and sanded the bottoms of my newer skillets until they were as smooth as I could get them without significantly more sanding. You'll know what I mean if you do it. You get to a point where you're not taking much off. I wasn't able to get them as smooth as the used one I picked up, but they are significantly better. After that, I seasoned them. Now they are quite usable. The picture of The New Stuff, is after sanding. If you have unsanded stuff, you'll be able to see what I mean.

Seasoning Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
2. Sand (if needed) and then wash the cast iron cookware with warm soapy water and promptly towel dry.
3. Place pans in the oven, bake 1 hour.
4. Remove pans from oven, cover the bottom & sides generously with canning salt (no additives) & vegetable oil. (I use good old extra virgin olive oil.)
5. Place in the oven and bake again for 1 hour.
6. Remove skillet from oven and rub to redistribute oil & salt.
7. Turn off oven and return pan to oven for 30 minutes.
8. Once cooled, remove from oven then wipe out salt & excess oil with paper towels.
9. Allow pan to cool before storing.

Daily Care

For daily cleaning and care, you simply wipe them out with a paper towel. Then moisten a fresh paper towel with cooking oil (I use extra virgin olive oil), wipe it around the inside of the skillet to completely cover & preseto! You're done.

If you have a burn or a nasty stick you can add a bit of water and scrub it with a plastic scrubbie. After you rinse and dry the piece, place it on the stove with the burner on high for a minute or two, then turn it off. Once it cools, lightly coat the cooking surface with olive oil. DO NOT soak them in water for more than 5 minutes. DO NOT use an SOS type pad on them. DO NOT put them in the dishwasher. DO NOT let anyone who has no clue how to clean them, clean them. You'll be back to sandpaper, a box of salt and a bottle of oil...

Now I'll answer the first question! "What can you cook in cast iron?" My old, smooth cast iron skillet is the only thing we cook eggs in. I find it better than non-stick for eggs. I use them for pancakes - I have a griddle & use a second large skillet to keep up with the masses around here. I've used them for baked pancakes & cornbread. And browning hamburger & onions, stir-fry & sausage. (I have a huge 16/18" skillet)

If cast iron doesn't stick, they are the world's best. May you now make peace with your cast iron!"

Hope this info helps.

Laralee
www.plymouthrockranch.com
Recording the Faithfulness and Provision of God for Future Generations
 
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