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Seasoning Frying Pans

Douglas

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I'm hoping some of the cooking experts on here can help me.

I've always struggled to get a good season on my frying pans. Now, I've never tried really all that hard before, and I also don't typically wash my own dishes or have exclusive reign over my kitchen stuff. My roommates used to share my stuff, and now my GF usually does the cleaning up.

Obviously, I don't try too hard to keep soaps and abrasives off the pans, which I guess are the big #1 no-nos.

I'm trying to work on a pan now to give it a good season. It has a bit of a brown tinge to it in places now just from my older abuse, and I've been working over the past day or two to consciously put vegetable oil in it, heat it until smoking, then let it cool, and repeat. At the end of 3 or so cycles of this, I wipe it mostly down and leave some oil in there.

Last night I fried some chicken breasts with a dill yoghurt marinade, and the chicken browned very nicely and the marinade reduced to a nice dark brown as well. A pretty solid success, with not much sticking.

Still, there was some sticking. I tried to clean it up a bit just with hot water and a spoon with mixed results. I finally did have to take the sponge to it and give a pretty good scrub. Now my pan still looks kind of dirty, with scrape marks where I applied the spoon. Still, I kept the soap off, and then did another round or two with the heat and the vegetable oil, and I just did a pretty minimal wipedown afterwards to leave a bit of oil on overnight.

Am I on the right track here? Is the dirtyish-brown look OK? How do you guys clean out your pans? Should I be cleaning up right away, or is it ok to let it sit for a while (say, to eat) before cleaning? And is it OK to take the soft side of a sponge to it under hot water? Is it OK to boil water in it to help clean it? Any other tips/suggestions?
 

DNW

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Are you using cast iron? Otherwise, it's a useless exercise.

With cast iron, time is your best friend. After the preliminary seasoning, just let it go. You really can't speed up this process significantly.

Also, avoid cooking acidic food in the pan, as the acid strips away the oil.

I cook a lot with a wok (same principle applies). So, after cooking, I just use a sponge and some hot water to clean it up. After that, then I wipe it dry, I might wipe a thin coat of oil if I remember. Most of the time, I just put in on the stove and fire it up for a few minutes to evaporate all the moisture.
 

hi-val

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Here's how I do it:

with a new pan, I coat it in a very light layer of oil, then put it in the oven for a few hours at 300 while other things like roasts or bread cook in the oven. If you have sticky spots on the pan, you used too much oil. This will go away soon enough.

Later, I will fry bacon in it.

These produce a fine nonstick surface.

To clean, heat the pan up a little and pour some kosher salt in it. Then use a paper towel to abrade the stuck-on stuff out of the pan. If you made a sauce in it, you can put in a little water to help dissolve things. If you use water, NEVER SOAP, then towel dry and put in a warm oven to dry or it will likely rust. Ideally, you just have to wipe out your pan with a paper towel.

If you have really stuck-on stuff, you can use an old plastic credit card or similar to scrape the stuff off the bottom of the pan.

I suggest storing your pans in your oven when you are not using them; the heat is good for them and they help regulate oven temp when you're baking or roasting other things.

As far as making sure that nobody else washes them, just tell your roommates that you'll wash the pan whenever it's sitting out and be true to your word!
 

Douglas

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Clarification - I am using a tri-ply steel pan, not cast iron. I have tried cast iron in the past, but it was too much of a pain **********. Was hoping for something a touch less fussy. I have heard that steel can be seasoned and adapt many of the same properties, though it might not brown foods quite as well.
 

hi-val

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Your guess is as good as Google's then. If you don't want things to stick, use lots of hot fat and high heat.
 

Manton

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You do not need to season a steel pan.

Cast iron is not the only surface that needs seasoning; aluminum does too, FWIW.

The keys to no sticky are 1) use oil with a high smoke point; 2) preheat the pan for a good, long time; 3) dry the food of excess water with paper towels. #3 is VERY important.

Then don't move the food around instantly. Let it cook in place until it releases.
 

Douglas

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Thanks for the tips. I guess this means I can't really use butter for frying
frown.gif
as it burns too fast.
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by Douglas
Thanks for the tips. I guess this means I can't really use butter for frying
frown.gif
as it burns too fast.


You can use butter. But not whole butter by itself. If you want to cook with butter on high heat, either clarify it, or else put some oil in the pan first, and then add butter once the oil heats up.
 

Tarmac

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You shouldn't be trying to build up any kind of film on a steel pan. I simply find that steel sticks to certain foods and there's no way around it.

For cast-iron, I can't recommend preseasoned pans enough. They work so great.
 

blackgrass

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If you live with other people or aren't into washing your own dishes...
Then I wouldn't invest in good cookware or knives.
 

madbulk

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You're getting lots of good advice. Seasoning is kinda bunk.
A non-stick pan is a non-stick pan for a reason. It's a different tool.
You can make a steak in your steel pan, or brown a pork chop. Just gotta leave the thing alone until as someone pointed out, it will release. And fortunately it ain't done until that point probably anyway.
Chicken is the next trick. Unless you're getting really good dry chickens, gonna be hit and miss. But if you learn to do chicken without tearing up the skin, you've learned how this pan works.
You won't be making fish in this pan, ever.
Don't buy an expensive teflon pan either. They're temporary.
 

SField

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Originally Posted by Douglas
Thanks for the tips. I guess this means I can't really use butter for frying
frown.gif
as it burns too fast.


Use butter to finish...
 

hi-val

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Ruhlman suggests in his Elements of Cooking that you have a nonstick pan for delicate foods like fish or eggs that need a nonstick surface for easy release. These items are cooked at a low heat and would overcook by the time they released from a steel pan. Get good teflon, baby it and only use it for cooking things that need a nonstick surface.

You can mix butter and oil for a higher smoke point fat with the flavor of butter. Chefs do it quite a bit.
 

Cavalier

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Ugh,

My roommate has considerably less experience in the kitchen then me (understatement), and refuses to listen to my advice. He proceeded to use my cast iron pan, (with out buttering the pan) to burn eggs--- then left it in the sink followed by a washing with dish soap. He thinks the concept of a seasoned pan is gross, and that I made it up completely. I was an ass, but I had to make it pretty clear to stick to the Teflon Cusiniart pans.

It's one of those things that takes time, my father maintained his pans/wok religiously.
 

DNW

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Originally Posted by Cavalier
Ugh,

My roommate has considerably less experience in the kitchen then me (understatement), and refuses to listen to my advice. He proceeded to use my cast iron pan, (with out buttering the pan) to burn eggs--- then left it in the sink followed by a washing with dish soap. He thinks the concept of a seasoned pan is gross, and that I made it up completely. I was an ass, but I had to make it pretty clear to stick to the Teflon Cusiniart pans.

It's one of those things that takes time, my father maintained his pans/wok religiously.


If your roommate has no respect for your property, tell him to stay the **** off of it.
 

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