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stir_fryi

Cast Iron and dish soap

stir_fryi SE Mich
11 years ago

DH cleaned the kitchen tonight and I came in and found my cast iron grill soaking in sudsy water.

Boohoo. I worked hard to get the grill seasoned and now I am having a hard time getting the dish soap smell out of it.

Comments (67)

  • kframe19
    11 years ago

    The secret to doing the pan in the coals to burn it off is to get it good and hot BEFORE you simply toss it into the fire.

    Preheating it will make it a lot less prone to cracking, about as prone to cracking as if you put it on top of a stove burner.

    The other secret to making sure it doesn't warp or crack is to allow it to cool slowly.

    Whenever I burn a pan off I do it in my Weber BBQ. Heat it on the top rack first, then remove the top rack and set the pan right on the coals and pile some into the pan itself. Then I put the lid on it with the drafts open and leave it go until the fire is out and everything is cold - usually the next day.

  • foodonastump
    11 years ago

    kayskats - If you're talking about the "heat ring" or "smoke ring" you should be ok on your smoothtop. I've got a #5 Griswold with the ring that I use pretty much exclusively for crepes. If there were a problem with uneven heating or something, I figure I'd know about it by now.

    {{gwi:1517156}}

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  • kayskats
    11 years ago

    so it's called a heat ring ... and now that I think about it, the ring will trap the radiating heat since there's no escape route. Gotta go up in the attic and pull down those old skillets and make sure there are no gaps in the rings. If not, I'll used ann's oven cleaning tip and put those old skillets back in service.

    By the way, do you think your skillet would work on induction??? Just curious.

  • foodonastump
    11 years ago

    Re: Induction, I've wondered that myself. My guess is that it would be fine. The heat ring only raises the skillet about 1/16". I know some people place Silpats between their cooktop and pots, supposedly with no effect on performance, so I wouldn't think air would present a new problem. Again, just a guess.

  • Fori
    11 years ago

    (I don't think anything cooked on a cast iron pan is unsanitary. It's cooked. There just may be some flavor carryover.)

  • arley_gw
    11 years ago

    If the pan is well seasoned, it can tolerate soap & water; if soap takes the seasoning off, it wasn't seasoned well to begin with. however, if you're aggressive with scouring, even the best seasoning comes off.

    Dan ('danab') had a great discussion of seasoning cast iron a while back, but I can't find the thread right now. IIRC, here are a few pertinent points:

    You need to coat the pan with a thin layer of the seasoning oil, then heat the pan in the oven (upside down so any excess drips off) almost to the smoke point and then let the pan cool. Most people don't heat it high enough. However, if you heat it too high, the oil burns and you're left with soot instead of seasoning.

    Seasoning is a process of polymerization of the oil to produce a thin, tough, covering. One of the best oils for this purpose is grapeseed oil. (I can attest that this works well. You can buy a small can of it at TJMaxx and it'll last a long time; with a high smoke point, it's good for high heat searing and frying.)

    He recommended against using a fire to clean a pot. However, one technique some people have used and it may be a little safer is to place the grungy pot in a self cleaning oven and run the self cleaning cycle; then, of course, the de-grunged pot is raw iron and you need to start the seasoning process all over again.

    Dan, if I've misquoted you, please jump in and correct me.

  • arley_gw
    11 years ago

    I forgot to mention: cast iron, enameled or raw, works great on induction. I doubt that the small elevation from the ring would have much effect.

  • arley_gw
    11 years ago

    Found the thread....It has more info on cast iron seasoning than any sane person needs--but who ever said the denizens of this forum were sane?

    Here is a link that might be useful: cast iron seasoning thread

  • sally2_gw
    11 years ago

    This is interestiing because I always thought soap was a no-no on cast iron. I've always used salt to scrub my cast iron when it got stuff stuck to it. Salt works well, and kills germs. As for germs when not washed with soap, pshaaw! This country has become way too germ phobic, which has resulted in causing more problems than it has prevented. I'm not worried. (Of course, on re-reading this I see I just contradicted myself about germs. Killing germs with salt is okay, but not with soap? Sometimes I confuse myself, lol) However, I now won't panic when I accidentally get soap from a scrub brush on my cast iron skillet, which happens from time to time when I thought the brush was soap free.

    Oh, and I have a gas stove, and I've never noticed a crust on my skillet. I guess I should look, but I don't think there is one. How long does it take to form a crust?

    Sally

  • annie1992
    11 years ago

    Sally, I was always told by my Grandma not to use dish soap or brillo pads on the cast iron. Since then I've found that she's right about brillo pads, but I often wash my pans with dish soap. I put them on the burner to dry, because they will rust if not dried.

    If I make something like eggs which don't stick, I just wipe the pan out, like you I figure I'm cooking whatever it is and that it should be fine. If I think I'm going to leave a "flavor residue" though, I wash it.

    Mine has never gotten a "crust" on it, though, it just gets blacker and shinier and more slippery.

    Annie

  • Fori
    11 years ago

    I think the no-soap thing is a leftover bit of wisdom from when soap had lye in it. Lye would definitely mess up your seasoning!

  • katefisher
    11 years ago

    I am going to show this thread to my husband. I washed his cast iron pan shortly after we were married. Coincidentally his lovely mother was visiting us that weekend. They both acted like they were being by their toe nails upon realizing what I had done. They insisted I had 'ruined' the pan and I finally ended the discussion by saying if it was indeed ruined it was time to get rid of it and never buy another one. Because I am not going to cook in a pan that has never been washed. Yuk!

    This thread makes me feel better. Thanks.

    Kate

  • plllog
    11 years ago

    The flatness of the pan depends on the sensitivity of the particular induction unit. My built-in is very tolerant and will heat very unflat things, but even a tiny ridge will prevent my portable from turning on. If you have a continuous ridge be careful not to go to hot and let the hot air out from underneath often so that the glass surface doesn't crack.

    My father uses brillo pads on the old cast iron. Comes out fine. He just sprays with cooking spray and heats it on the stove after. (He doesn't remove the seasoning--that's for maintenance.)

    Thanks, Fori, for explaining the no-soap thing! That was puzzling me.

    BTW, the canard about not washing your wood salad bowls comes from a satire in a popular publication (maybe Saturday Evening Post?). It was about the complicated Frenchifying of food. The author came up with the biggest rigmarole about making a salad as he could, including that it must be served from a wood bowl, and that the bowl must never be washed, and that pepper must be ground freshly at the very last minute. A lot of people didn't catch on that it was a joke, and waiters still walk around with pepper grinders (never mind that ground pepper holds its flavor better than most spices), and people still let their salad bowls go rancid instead of washing them.

  • sheesh
    11 years ago

    This "crust" thing is bothering me. I use cast iron pans almost exclusively. When hub washes them he uses soap, but I never do. I have no crust anywhere on any pan, skillet, dutch oven or lid. Mine are like Annie's - slick, black and slippery on the inside, no crust on the outside. I use gas, but I also use them on our charcoal grill and over the wood fire on occasion.

    I did drop one years ago and it broke in half, but it didn't have a crust, either.

    Sherry

  • annie1992
    11 years ago

    pllog, I hope your Dad does OK with that Brillo pad, I took the seasoning off a part of my biggest skillet with a good scrubbing with a brillo pad and learned my lesson...

    I've never broken a pan, but I was foolish enough to dunk a hot cast iron skillet into a bucket of cold water because we were camping and I didn't want the kids to accidentally touch the hot pan. Yup, cracked the pan.

    Some things I just have to learn the hard way, I guess, like the fact that cast iron is durable and nearly indestructible, but not quite!

    Annie

  • plllog
    11 years ago

    Annie, he's been doing it for over 50 years. :) Hasn't ruined one yet.

    I also don't know what a "crust" is, but I did learn from all of you what to do if I ever see one!

  • sally2_gw
    11 years ago

    This has been a very educational thread. That's interesting about the lye soap, and makes sense. As DH pointed out, there's probably lots of "rules" passed down from generation to generation that made sense way back when, but are unnecessary now. I can't think of any, nor did he, but the no soap on the cast iron must be a good example.

    The salad bowl thing is funny.

    Sally

  • foodonastump
    11 years ago

    plllog - Smell is strongly associated with taste, right? Re fresh ground pepper: This morning at 10:30 after reading your post I turned five grinds of pepper into a pinch bowl. At noon I turned another five grinds into an identical bowl. I waited a few minutes for any airborne oils or dust to dissipate and asked my wife to give me a blind smell test.

    No back and forth, no concentrating real hard, just one quick sniff each and I knew immediately without question which was the fresher grind. If a mere 1.5 hours made such a stark difference, then I can't imagine how a restaurant could offer best quality pepper without grinding it at the table.

    Too bad the author didn't take five minutes of his day to experiment before making fun of the practice!

    Now unwashed salad bowls, that's a bit off-putting esp. in a restaurant setting. Thanks for the warning - going forward I'll keep an eye out and if I see them serving in wood I'll request ceramic!

  • plllog
    11 years ago

    FOAS, I just like learning the origins of things like the no soap for cast iron being from the old lye soap. I am glad to be informed by your experiment. The author wasn't making fun of the practice of grinding over your plate, however. He invented it!! He was trying to be absurd (in his day, it was.) By your experiment, he may have been onto something, but the practice of waiters parading around with pepper grinders owes its origin to the satire.

    Re the wood bowls, also pure invention for the same piece: I think restaurants, with health codes and standards, probably do wash them if they even use them. Around here they stopped using wood barbecue platters decades ago, and I haven't seen a wood salad bowl in a restaurant since the early '80's. But I still hear hostesses shouting, "NOOOO!! Don't wash the salad bowl!!" In truth, wood is fairly antimicrobial, and with a good, hard, oil finish it's unlikely that salad, except maybe possibly homemade mayonnaise salmonella, is going to create a health problem, but, still, eeeew!

  • Fori
    11 years ago

    Hey--I'm guessing about the lye! Just a guess!

    All I know is that in the past, soap was pretty nasty compared to modern stuff and people didn't often not do stuff for no reason.

  • foodonastump
    11 years ago

    Oh, ok plllog, I get it now! I just happen to LOVE pepper and I believe there are some ladies here who carry small pepper mills in their pocketbooks. I'd probably be one of them but alas, I don't carry a pocketbook. You just threw me for a loop and made me question if the whold fresh-ground thing was a farse. So I experimented...

  • mangomoon
    11 years ago

    I maintain mine well seasoned and will wash them in hot water with a good scrubber, let it air dry a bit in the dish rack, then put it on the stove, turn the heat on for a short while, then turn it off and let it cool, then store away. This will keep them from turning rusty and having to season. I haven't had a reason yet to use soap, but I did once and the soapy smell was just awful when it came to using the cast iron to heat up to cook in.


    I do the very same with my huge steel Chinese style wok!


    I have a non-stick pan that I use for cooking scrambled or fried eggs only!!! and I wipe the pan clean with a paper towel after its use and that is it. Now and then I run it under hot water with a scrubber and let it air dry. I learned this from a chef believe it or not!

  • kframe19
    11 years ago

    Well, Thursday night I made myself some hamburgers in the cast iron, and got a nice solid sear on them, which results in crust on the cast iron and lots of grease in the pan.

    So, when the pan cooled, I put it in the sink, filled it with hot water and a goodly squirt of dish soap, and let it soak.

    Unfortunately, by Friday morning I was sick as a dog and never got around to doing anything with the pan until Sunday night.

    It sat in the sink for 3 solid days, full of soapy water, and there wasn't a speck of rust on it.

  • sheesh
    11 years ago

    kframe, I think what you had is "fond." I get fond, too, and often scrape it to incorporate with wine or water to use as a sauce for the meat. I think the "crust" on the outside of the pan is something different, and something I have never experienced in all the years I've been cooking with cast iron - about 41 - and never saw on my Dad's pans, either, while growing up. The outsides of my pans (or Dad's) aren't slick like the insides, but there is no sign of "crust."

    Sorry you were sick, glad you didn't get any rust.

    Sherry

  • annie1992
    11 years ago

    I'm still wondering about the "dish soap smell" the OP talked about.

    Michael, I hope you feel better and I'm glad that your cast iron is still intact. I get that particular stuff on the inside when I fry steak or burgers, which is why I was scrubbing with brillo that time. I got it off, but I got off a good patch of seasoning too, I was very diligent, LOL.

    I think that's different than the crust on the outside of a pan, though...

    Annie

  • arley_gw
    11 years ago

    If there is some crud stuck on the inside of a cast iron pan, here's what I do: put hot water in it (no soap), bring it to a boil, turn off the heat and then let it cool a little (usually while I do the rest of the dishes). Pour out the water, put a tablespoon or two of coarse salt in the pan, and use paper towels to scour the stuck stuff. Rinse, dry, put back on the heat a few moments to drive off all the remaining water (IMPORTANT!) and then re-oil, let cool and store. That technique usually won't disturb seasoning like brillo pads will.

  • kframe19
    11 years ago

    Why yes I'm VERY fond of my cast iron pan, Sherman, thank you for asking. :-)

    I think the crust on the exterior of the pans is something that we simply don't have anymore because we don't cook over wood or coal stoves. It's my understanding that the crusts was mainly combustion byproducts that condensed on the outside of the pan.

    You'll see it if you cook over an open fire a lot.

    For any burned on food on the inside of a pan, I've found that a wooden spoon with a flat edge (more like a spatula, really) does a great job as a scraper.

  • plllog
    11 years ago

    LOL!! Kframe, thanks for the explanation. I was talking about this crust thing with a non-native English speaker and in trying to describe it I dredged up an image of camp cooking over wood. So I guess I must have seen it sometime... (she hadn't). That makes a lot of sense!

  • coconut_nj
    11 years ago

    I actually have a pan with a crust. It was my Mothers pan. It's rather small, probably only a 9" pan, fairly deep. She cooked in it a lot and Pops taught her to only clean the inside. I think the crust was from lots of frying and the biggest cause was when she made candied sweet potatoes. Cooking that syrup on high then into the oven and baking the crust on. They did go camping and may have taken it but I think it was just from her normal splashy, clean the inside only use. I know I could get rid of the crust, but... it's Mom's old pan.......

  • stir_fryi SE Mich
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Well I used my grill pan last night to cook chicken tenders that were marinated in teriyaki sauce.

    They cooked up beautifully. I learned from Rachael Ray to not disturb the chicken until it releases from the pan or your will tear it up -- she is so right.

    Anyhow, cleaning the grill pan after the teriyaki was a pain. I kept rinsing and scrubbing and rinsing and scrubbing -- but when I run the nail across it black soot stuff still comes off.

    Does cast iron ever really get "clean" after you use it????

  • annie1992
    11 years ago

    Oh, absolutely, stir fryi, mine is black as pitch and smooth as teflon, maybe smoother, but I can't scratch anything off unless I used something like a metal utensil and gouged it.

    Annie

  • stir_fryi SE Mich
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Ok -- I put the pan in the oven at 400 deg for over an hour last night. This am I was able to scrape off the black "soot".

    I like the pan but I can see how it is easier and cleaner to just use the grill on the deck!

  • ann_t
    11 years ago

    My vintage cast iron is like Annie's. Smooth and non-stick. I can fry eggs in them without anything sticking.

    Ann

  • danab_z9_la
    11 years ago

    Crusting is what you get when you don't season your cast iron properly. Arley has posted a link to a thread where I explained how to properly season and care for cast iron. Vintage cast iron like Griswold and Wagner Sydney O....is much superior to the cast iron products that are available today. The casting process was different, the metallurgy better, and the cooking surface was very smooth because it was machined polished....much better for non-stick cooking.

    You can read some of my thoughts on this matter in an old link on the GW Cookware forum.....see link below. What you will read is a perspective from a retired chemist who collects AND COOKS with lots of cast iron. I've seasoned lots of cast iron over the years.

    I've received many emails in response to my posts in that thread. Many have found that information helpful and some articles have been published using the information contained in it. There is absolutely no problem with washing a "properly seasoned" cast iron piece with dish soap. If you have a soap aftertaste after washing.....it is because your pan was not seasoned properly. Seasoning must be done at a high temperature to get the right chemical reactions to occur on your cast iron pans.

    Dan

    Here is a link that might be useful: Care and Seasoning of Cast Iron

  • kframe19
    11 years ago

    "The casting process was different, the metallurgy better, and the cooking surface was very smooth because it was machined polished"

    I have a round skillet that's over 100 years old and has been in my family that long.

    It is so smooth that it is an incredible pain in the butt to season.

    The fat, on heating, actually separates and beads up on it, leaving a "freckled" appearance of seasoned and unseasoned areas. It took me four tries to get it completely seasoned.

  • danab_z9_la
    11 years ago

    Seasoning is not a one time process....it is a continuous process. The patina of a good pan should get better each time that it is used and cleaned. Of course you have to clean it properly too. The details of this are in the link. I would trade a Lodge pan for your old smooth bottom pan any day.......not for its aesthetic appeal....but because it will cook better for me. It usually is lighter because of the better casting and it brown/sears meat much better because of the smooth surface (no holes or rough surface to trap meat juices that turns into steam). I can build a better fond using smooth surfaced, thin walled, old cast iron pans. It makes a difference in the cooking process for some of the dishes that I cook. Fond is what often separates a GREAT dish from a good or average dish.

    Dan

  • plllog
    11 years ago

    Dan,

    Thanks for the link to the old thread. I love learning the science. :)

    Do you know when the quality changed? My mother talks about when she was desperate to find a new cast iron dutch oven, back in the day, and none were to be had. I wonder if that was a local thing, or if there was just a dearth of manufacturing.

  • kframe19
    11 years ago

    "Seasoning is not a one time process....it is a continuous process."

    Yes, I know that. But I have NEVER had a pan, either one of my 100+ year old ones (I have several) or one of my relatively new ones actually BEAD the oil during the seasoning process.

  • James McNulty
    11 years ago

    Don't believe that the brand has much to do with it. It is the care and what you cook in it and how you clean it.
    I have 70's Korea pans and Griswolds - they all cook the same (wonderful as long as I don't try to make spaghetti sauce in them).
    Jim in So Calif

  • annie1992
    11 years ago

    Heck, Jim, I used to have one that I used especially to cook spaghetti sauce in, because my old doctor told me to keep my iron level up by cooking acid ingredients in cast iron pans.

    My iron level was always fine, high enough they'd test it a second time sometimes, to be sure it wasn't an erroneous reading. I didn't notice that it had any strange flavor, but I don't like spaghetti sauce much so that probably has something to do with it.

    Annie

  • shaun
    11 years ago

    Ooooooh I just got 2 cast iron skillets from my sister that my mother used to use for years. They are rusted so I scrubbed them with kosher salt and a wet paper towel, dried them off and rubbed bacon grease in them and put them in the over at 450 for about an hour.

    Is this the way to do it?

  • sheesh
    11 years ago

    Bacon grease?

  • plllog
    11 years ago

    Should work.

  • beth4
    11 years ago

    I use cast iron skillets that were used by my grandmother (born in 1895) and my great grandmother, born in 1871. So that tells you how old these cast iron skillets are, and how well used they are!

    I have always (for the 40 years I've had these skillets) washed the skillets in soapy water. I've used SOS pads on them when necessary to thoroughly clean. And they are still seasoned, and cook beautifully.

    One thing I always do: After damp drying them with the dish cloth, I put the skillets on very low heat and dry them thoroughly on top of the stove. Turn the heat off, let them cool and them store them till the next time I use them. My grandmother, who owned one of the skillets, taught me this trick when I was a young bride.

    Nothing better than a cast iron skillet that passes down through the generations!

  • shaun
    11 years ago

    Yes Sherrmann, bacon grease. No? Not a good idea? I already did it. Rut Ro.

  • James McNulty
    11 years ago

    Bacon grease is GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jim in So Calif

  • teresa_nc7
    11 years ago

    Bacon grease is not the worse thing to season a cast iron pan. But, you get the salt and bacon flavor/odor along with the grease. I always use shortening, i.e. Crisco to season my pans. And a thin layer massaged in with my hands is better than a thick gloppy layer. As others have said, the seasoning is a building up process. You don't really season the pan one time and then you're done.

    Another "crust" that can happen is when fat is poured from the pan into another container and the fat drips down the outside of the pan. Then the pan is not wiped and cleaned well, the pan is put back on the heat, and the drips from the previous use caramelize on the outside of the pan. My mom's enameled cast iron skillet had this condition (for I think a long, long time). She showed it to me and I offered to clean the skillet up for her. Using oven cleaner on paper towels left to sit and dissolve the crud, I finally got the pan clean. She was so pleased and amazed! I can now walk on water, too - ha!

    Teresa

  • lindac
    11 years ago

    I did have a cast iron griddle crack.....and haven't yet found a replacement....sob......
    It does SO matter what brand the cast iron is...certain brands are much finer finished and will season better than others....Griswold pans I have are the smoothest...with Wagner coming in second and Lodge last. I use soap, but rarely and only in case of something like really stuck on egg....from a pan left on the fire with remains in it....mostly I just swish and wipe...
    But I really take issue with the recommendations on the wooden bowls. I have my grandmother's wooden bowl and she died in 1950 at age 68. She said....never put water in it, but to rinse and always empty any leftover salad immediatly because moisture will cause a one piece bowl to crack. That bowl is used often in my kitchen today....if it gets a bit of a rancid smell....a scrub with salt will fix it right up. and never EVER put cooking spray on your bowls.
    As for the canard about the wooden bowl and the pepper grinder, I think that's apocryphal.
    The classic recipe for a Caesar salad recommends rubbing the wooden bowl with a cut clove of garlic before making the salad....and the reason waiters walk around with the pepper grinder....and the reason it is so large is because patrons have a tendency to swipe them.
    The first time I ever encountered the giant pepper mill was at Pals Cabin in West orange...some time before 1950...
    Sure it's a subject of satire....but the satire came after the practise.
    The country club I belonged to used to have a pepper grinder on every table...until they started disappearing....then you had to ask as there weren't enough to go around....then the waiters started carrying them....
    I need a 10 inch cast iron round griddle...preferable used....don't much care for the coarse finish on the modern ones....
    I need to be hitting the yard sales.
    Linda C

  • plllog
    11 years ago

    The satire came in the very early part of the 20th Century.

  • sheesh
    11 years ago

    My heart nearly broke the day I dropped my dad's old cast iron pan and broke it in half. He'd had the pan, used it almost daily, the whole time I was growing up, gave it to me rather ceremoniously when he didn't use it so much anymore because he bought what he considered the worst purchase he'd ever made - a glass-top stove - in 1976. I don't remember what brand it was, and I don't know where he got it in the first place (maybe his mom?) but it was the best pan ever and I broke it!

    My replacement pans are well-seasoned, slick and shiny, no crusts, apparently washed by my husband with soap and water for years but never by me, but in my memory and the family lore, the pan I broke was much better. And it was not on my husband's head that I broke the beloved pan, though I considered using one of the pans he was soaping when I caught him in the act...I dropped it, empty, on the driveway when I was taking it outside to use on the grill.

    Sherry

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