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Cast Iron Seasoning and Cleaning


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Cast Iron Seasoning and Cleaning

FelafelBoy | | Jan 30, 2007 11:29 PM

Had a George Forman small grill that didn't get hot enough for my frozen turkey burgers and wound up steaming them. (I had also witnessed some plastic smell coming from the unit.) The non-stick skillet I used cooked the turkey burger alright without added oil, but left an oily exterior when cooked in oil.

I thought a cast iron skillet might be an improvement. Pulled out the unused skillet given to me years ago, a Lodge 10-12" one. It felt already seasoned, but for good measure I wiped it in a bit of coconut oil (I do not desire animal shortening.) On the Lodge website, they referred to the skillet as already seasoned. I thought the cookware should always be wiped in oil first. It did seem strange that the surface seemed so smooth (unlike my carbon rolled steel surfaced wok which I had to season.)

I placed the skillet in a 350 degree oven, face down on a sheet of aluminum foil, and after one hour and cooling time, removed it and wiped down the extra oil on a paper towel.

I turned up the heat on the electric stove, and later saw smoke coming from the surface. I removed the extra oil. I had thought that coconut oil had a high smoke temperature. (This coconut oil was refined, organic, expreller pressed oil.)

I lowered the heat, placed the frozen turkey burger on the hot skillet, and got the sizzle. I did not put oil in the skillet, since my experience with the non-stick surfaced skillet had the burger cooking in its own fat. When I had used oil in the nonstick skillet, the result was too oily. When I flipped the burger in the cast iron skillet, part of the burger stuck to the skillet surface. Not too much fat had come out of the burger during the initial cooking. What I saw and heard gave me the impression that the intense heat was evaporating/vaporizing the fat on contact, unlike what I had witnessed with the nonstick skillet. Only part of the burger had the grill marks as the rest of the burger had sort of curled up.

When I put the second burger in, I added some olive oil, and the burger came off the surface more easily and seemed to cook better. These were low fat turkey burgers, for the record.
Maybe oil should always be used on a cast iron skillet, regardless of the food being used? I am new to this cooking equipment!

The skillet was very hot after I turned the burner's heat off. After cooling, I rinsed out the skillet, but some fat or turkey remains had stuck to the surface. Lodge instructs to not use steel wool for cleaning, but that was the only thing that got these food particles off. I rinsed the surface, dried it, and then applied a small amount of coconut oil again to the surface, heated the pan up gently, and then took a paper towel and did a fast wipe.

I cannot imagine attempting to clean such a skillet until after having let the cookware cool off, which seemed to take at least 20 minutes if not longer.

Is this procedure correct? Is there some other oil that is recommended for the surface after each use? Should oil be used to the surface after every use? This skillet weighs a ton, and is not as easy maintenance as the non-stick pans I have, but I figured for cooking a turkey burger and fish, I might get a better result, healthier and better tasting. It seems that the cast iron imparts a more intense fuller heat to the food.

I have used stainless steel skillets, non-stick, both are easy maintenance, but cast iron seems best if you have time to clean up, muscles to move the skillet, and patience for the seasoning.

Was my seasoning procedure recommended? (I did not apply oil to the outside, as I saw no reason to do so. I applied oil only to the inner surface and the edges of the skillet.)