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www.goodeatsfanpage.com • View topic - Cast Iron Curing

Cast Iron Curing

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Cast Iron Curing

Postby Slamdunkpro » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:43 pm

I'm posting this here so it doesn't go away again - Thanks Brian S!

Curing Cast Iron

See that label on your Lodge cast iron? It says that you should bake your piece at 350* for one hour. Tear that label off and throw it away! 350* is for wussies!

I called and talked to the fine people at Lodge, and they said that your should really cure cast iron at 450-500*. They said that they list 350* on their packaging because they don't want people to wig out if their piece started to smoke at 500*.

So, with that in mind, here is how you should cure your cast iron.

~~NOTE~~ If you are using Lodge Logic, which is pre-seasoned, you do NOT need to cure your piece before you use it. It's already been done for you.

Wash and rinse thoroughly. Make sure the skillet is bone dry before trying to cure.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place cold skillet in oven while it is preheating. Check on it every couple of minutes. You want to pull it out when it is very warm, but not too hot to handle comfortably.

Remove skillet from oven, put 1 tablespoon of Crisco (solid, not the liquid kind) in the center of the pan. Let it melt most of the way.

Smear the Crisco over every surface and into every nook and cranny. You want an ultra-thin coating. You want to be able to feel it on the iron, but not see it.

~Tip~ If you're curing a skillet lid, don't use a paper towel, because the "basting spikes" on the underside of the lid will destroy it in no time. Use a sacrificial terry towel. I bought a 10-pack of terry "bar towels" at Wal-Mart for $3.

Place into a 500 degree oven and let it bake for 2 hours. Turn on your vent, it may smoke a little bit as the Crisco breaks down.

Leave the skillet in the oven until it is completely cool. For some reason, the iron reacts better to a long, slow cool down time.

If your cure should come out a little spotty or uneven, don't panic. Just store the skillet in the oven and leave it in while you bake other things. After each heating, take it out and wipe it down with pure canola oil and return it to the oven. Eventually the skillet will turn jet black.

Repeat this process at least one more time before using the skillet for the first time.

For the first actual use, brown ground beef, fry bacon, or best of all fry a chicken. After cooking, wipe out the accumulated fat and bits until a paper towel comes out reasonably clean.

~TIP~ If you need to scrub the skillet, don't use water. Pour some kosher salt in the bottom of the pan, pour in enough oil to make a paste, and then scrub with a paper towel. Wipe out all of the oil and the salt and wipe down with fresh oil and you're all set.

Wipe down with pure canola oil while the skillet is still hot. Again, you want the thinnest possible coating of oil.

Don't use Pam or anything other than pure canola oil. I've found that several canola oil sprays leave a nasty residue on the metal if it reaches a certain temperature, but pure canola oil doesn't. Repeat this step after every single use as maintenance.

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT cure the cast iron with ordinary canola, peanut, or vegetable oil. Using these will result in a sticky, brown, uneven cure.


409b) How do I re-season my cast iron utensil?

This is also from Brian S at the GEFP Message Board:

Ok, say you've got a really crummy cure on your skillet, or that you've got one with a lot of built-up grease and carbon. If you have a rusty skillet, go to the end of this guide for a guide to removing rust.

You want to strip the piece down to the bare metal and start again. Here's how you do it. There are two ways to strip the cure off of cast iron: burning it off and eating it off.

Burning Off the Cure

There are a number of ways to do this, but they all involve high heat.

Gas Grill

Place your skillet upside down on a cold grill.

Turn the heat to it's highest possible setting, leave the lid down, and let skillet bake for a minimum of one hour.

Check it after one hour. The old cure should either turn into a fine white ash that you can brush off, or it might flake off. It may or may not need more time on the heat.

No Gas Grill

Ok, so you don't have a gas grill, what do you do? Well, I don't know about you, but I have a lot of camp grounds in my area and they all have either a fire pit or free-standing BBQ grills/pits.

Make a day of it, go out in the country, build a bon fire and place your iron in the heart of the fire. Have a picnic, feed the fire, make s'mores, etc. Let the fire die down to embers and CAREFULLY remove the iron. It would be best if you could leave it in the pit until it cooled completely.

If you can't build a bonfire, use one of these free-standing BBQ pits or grills. This may or may not work, depending on how hot of a fire you can get.

Get a load of coals going, lay down a layer, put the cast iron directly on top of that layer, pile coals on top of that iron and let it burn.

Another easy way to burn the cure off is to put your iron in your oven during its self-clean cycle. Since I don't have a self-cleaning oven, I've never tried this method, although others have told me that it works rather well.

After the Heat

After your iron is completely cool, remove it from the grill/oven/pit.

Take a stiff wire-bristled brush and scrub the iron. Most or all of the old cure should come off quite easily.

After you get the old cure off, wash the piece, dry it, and start with step 1 of my guide to curing cast iron.

Now, if for some reason you absolutely just CAN NOT get to one of the sources of high heat listed above, there is another way. However, it is extremely dangerous if done incorrectly and involves tubs full of a caustic chemical that is perfectly happy to dissolve human flesh on contact; lye.
Cast iron is cured with fat, lye will eat fat all day long, so lye is used to "eat" the cure off of the iron.

Flesh Eating Lye Bath Cleaning Instructions

Soak cast iron pieces in lye water.

Mix 1 can of lye (i.e., Red Devil) with 4-5 gallons of water in a plastic container.

Suspend pieces utilizing steel coat hangers. Usually several days to a week for really dirty pieces will be enough. You can leave pieces in the tub for months (yes, months) and they will not rust and are not damaged by this method.

Remove pieces after soaking and rinse with hose and relatively high water pressure. If grease does not wash away, try wiping with stainless steel souring pad or brush.

Repeat the lye bath as required.

After piece(s) are dry, brush with fine steel brush on drill or wire wheel.

Wash the piece in dishwashing soap and warm water and rinse thoroughly. Dry. You can speed the drying by placing in the oven at 200 degrees.

Generously apply oil; completely coating the item. Let stand overnight.
Wipe off excess oil with paper towel and buff with a soft cloth

Rust

Neither lye nor high heat remove rust. To get rid of rust, do the following:

Soak pieces in solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water for several hours.

Now this will depend on each piece, BUT remember vinegar is an acid and acids EAT metal You will ruin your piece if you let it in the bath too long. This is NOT like the lye bath.

Remove from vinegar solution, rinse and rub/brush to determine if rust has been removed. Repeat vinegar bath if required.

Dry, oil, wipe, buff as above.
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Re: Cast Iron Curing

Postby Cheez-Wiz » Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:37 am

Got it saved now......thanks Slam!
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