Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Cast Iron Cookware.

A quick interruption in the Smoky Mountain posts to ask you all a serious question:

Is "seasoning" a pan actually worth it? Who does this? From my (total lack of) experience, it seems incredibly silly.

As you know, I am the opposite of awesome at cooking or doing any sort of kitchenly activity. If you don't already know this about me you can discover it for yourself hereherehere and let's not forget that time I put Palmolive in someone else's dishwasher.

While we were in TN, Ryan came across a coupon for a proper LODGE CAST IRON pan for $4 and couldn't pass it up. We (and by "we" I mean Ryan) cooked eggs in it yesterday and I tried to "wipe it clean" with a cloth and warm water. It didn't really get clean at all, but they said not to use any soap because it's already been seasoned. So I set it in my sink to dry and this morning woke up to a major rusty iron ring stain in the bottom of my otherwise flawless sink. awesometown.

So I got out the little LODGE instruction booklet and discovered that I should immediately dry my pan and "season" it with vegetable oil after every use. Oops. Blew it already and I've only used it once! This is a really high-maintenance pan people.

So I re-washed the pan again trying to get more egg off, then I dried it and coated it with oil... until I remembered I was supposed to use "VEGETABLE OIL", so I put the olive oil away, re-washed the pan for a THIRD TIME and re-coated the pan with vegetable oil which created another issue: storage.

Now I have this oily pan that has to be stored somewhere special, like on it's own special shelf where it can be all oily but not get all my other pans oily? How many cupboards do those people at the iron pan factory think I have anyway!?!?

Seriously, is this worth it? Who actually does this "seasoning" thing? I'm about ready to toss my pan into the goodwill bag when Ryan isn't looking.


Matthew Starner said...

Hi Amber - I've been reading your blog for a few years now and really appreciate your humor. I've done cast iron skillet thing. This site is very helpful on how to season a pan. I don't season after every use. I've heard that you can do it as little as once a year or every few months. Once it's seasoned, it shouldn't be oily to the touch so storage isn't an issue. Hope this helps! Keep writing and being generally awesome!

meredith said...

It's actually LOW maintenance once you figure it out. I leave mine in the oven (move it to the stovetop when i need to) - and I rub some oil (ANY kind - olive, veg, they actually say crisco is best)after I use it almost every time. The "seasoning" is what makes it naturally nonstick.

I am a convert - we use our cast iron for EVERYTHING now - and I refer everyone here for the basics...

Elizabeth said...

$4 cast iron pan... how awesome!!! I cringed when you said you left it to dry in the sink!;) It always goes against all of my instincts to not use soap when washing mine, but you can use a stiff brush to get the 'egg' or what not off.

It does need to be seasoned because the cast iron is porous and it needs it to help keep out the moisture and any lingering food stuff that might be sucked in to the pores. That way each dish will not make the food you make next time taste like the food you made last time. However, you shouldn't have to season it every time, or at least not quite as thoroughly and you can just use a pam spray to make it quick an easy (and a little less greasy). I love my cast iron dutch oven... hope you also end up loving yours!

Mark Beeson said...

I'm impressed by your travels into the "retro" and historical world of pilgrims and pioneers, and, at the same time, wondering why Teflon was invented.
- Your Adoring Dad

Shauna Van Dyke said...

Check out You Tube, Amber. Tons of videos on cleaning the skillet.

amberWIRE said...

Thanks for all these tips everyone. After much consideration, I've decided to give my new pan one more chance.

Anonymous said...

ADB - miss having you in MI.... I do season mine and then when I store I put a paper towel on it. SCKolasa :)

Lindsay said...

oh amber, i love you so much and miss you! you are too funny and i log onto amberwire to cheer myself up when it's been a long day--works everytime. love you so much and hope we can plan a trip to see you guys soon. xoxo

judy dillon said...

Hi Amber~

You are too funny! I USED to have cast iron cookware when I first got married - but found it to be kind of heavy and a hassle - so for me ... Silver Stone is where it's at for "fry-pans"!!!

I enjoyed the family photos of your TN vacation!

Did you know that your dad and Brian/Jen's dad were born on THE SAME DAY?!?! I figured that out when the church had that 50th b-day celebration for your dad!

judy dillon

Anonymous said...

store it in the oven - that's where i keep mine. u only have to remember to remove it before you preheat the oven.

April Gann said...

So, I also walked into the world of cast iron this year. I follow a minimalism blog that has me all messed up. They say it's the only pan you should own.
I re-seasoned mine a few weeks ago, but somehow I think all the crisco must have stuck to the bottom of my oven (I heard you are supposed to season it upside down), because I definitely started an oven fire tonight complete with the alarm company calling me before the fire department came out (I told them it was under control-ish).
My guests showed up with all my doors and windows flung open and my head in the oven cleaning--all due to lovely cast iron seasoning. Hmmm... :)