UPDATE: On June 26, 2012, I posted about FINALLY having success by season with Jojoba Oil. I just want to say that Jojoba Oil still rocks & now have proof that it soars above everything else (and I have tried everything believe me). I kept wiping a thin layer onto my skillet after each use, and even fried egg would slide around.
BUT THEN.... I had run out of Jojoba oil and decided not to worry about it at that point sense I obviously had a great seasoning already. I was mainly using bacon grease (without nitrates) but would occasionally also use other oils. Then my family began having the problem of eggs sticking.... no matter what we did! I couldn't figure it out and finally asked myself why this was happening now? What is different that might cause this?...... Then it hit me - JOJOBA OIL!
Well, I've reseasoned my pan with Jojoba oil and all is well once again.
Well, my daughter has taken off with her nice camera... for 5 weeks, but I won't make you wait that long for those pics I promised.
Instead, I snapped these with only a 5mp Android phone, but you'll get the idea anyway. These were taken today 7/10/12 which is 14 days after my last seasoning session that I wrote about just above.
I use this pan almost daily and oil it down before every use (not slathered, just very thinly oiled). I always use a metal spatula while cooking so I can scrape the pan surface down smooth over time. To clean it, I simply wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and sometimes put a few more drops of oil in, and wipe it up as dry as I can get it.
After finally seasoning this skillet correctly, it has turned out to be the best pan I've purchased in years. =J
Sooo.... I know I said I was done trying things, but.....
"Jojoba oil is pressed from bean of the jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis) - a desert shrub native to the Sonoran Desert of North America. Jojoba has been gathered and used by native Americans for centuries for its many uses and medicinal value. Jojoba is technically not an oil but a complex wax. Chemically, it is almost identically to human sebum - the oil in our skin that keeps it moist and supple. So, can I eat it? Jojoba Gold is non-toxic and can be safely ingested by humans and pets. But, because it is a wax and not a fat, our bodies cannot digest it. Instead, Ingested jojoba oil is eliminated directly with the stool - a very unpleasant condition called steattorhea. Therefore, jojoba oil is not edible and unsuitable as a food oil - we recommend you do not ingest it."
You may be wondering, "Why in the heck would this crazy lady use it for seasoning her CI then?!"
Now.... My thoughts on why I even wanted to try it --- Jojoba oil is the only oil I know of (or in this case it's really an ester wax) that bares a single-strand cellular structure (as opposed to the typical tri-strand, or triglyceride, cell of other oils). In other words, it's skinny, string like form allows it to slip in and absorb into things better than the next guy. Also, Jojoba oil will tend to polymerize (so I read) in direct sunlight AND has an amazing shelf life; it takes a lot to make this stuff go rancid. I theorized that it's high absorption factor partnered with it's tendency to polymerize in direct light (heat?) and not decompose easily sounded like a great candidate for CI seasoning. I Googled the heck out of the subject of Jojoba oil and CI seasoning, but came up with nothing....
I spent a length of space explaining my choice of Jojoba, so I'll get straight to the "how":
My bare, naked, stripped CI skillet was placed in the oven and the temperature set @ 200°F. I let the dry pores of the pan open up in the oven for about 15 minutes, and then removed the skillet. At this point, I poured several drops of Jojoba oil into a custard cup and used a silicone basting brush to brush the oil all over the pan. I let it sit for a minute or two, and then WIPED IT VERY DRY with a paper towel. I placed the skillet back into the oven RIGHT SIDE UP (not upside down) and set the oven temp @ 475°F and the timer for about 1-1/2 hours. I deduced that although Sheryl Canter says to set our oven as high as it will go for the Flaxseed oil process, she herself only set her oven @ 475°F (because that's as high as hers would go). I decided to not mess with this part of what seemed to work for her and follow suit. Once time was up, I simply turned off the oven and allowed the pan to cool in the oven AT LEAST several hours. I did this process 7 times total in about 5 days.
Once the seasoning process was complete and absolutely cooled, I cooked uncured thick bacon, fried some eggs, and sauteed chopped zucchini and ground beef....
I LOVE THE WAY FOOD COOKS ON THIS PAN NOW - I'm so glad I tried this - NO REGRETS! =)
Unfortunately my daughter left with the camera which has the new pictures I took, so I'll post those when I can get to them. I just couldn't wait to share the success (FINALLY) and good news.
Here's a few pictures referenced to my comments above - The pan did not fair well.
Thanx dixiegal for your insight - I am beginning to see the light and share your opinion that "an optimal CI cooking pan takes time".
As for placing the pan upside down, I only did that because I was told to. There wasn't any extra oil to drip what-so-ever, I was just following orders *lol*. As for the Flaxseed oil not being suitable to cook with, I wouldn't know. I really don't know much about the stuff. I DO know it's not going in my CI pan anymore. During the seasoning process, my oven was set at the highest it would go - 550°F (except for the self-cleaning mode that is next to Hell in temp.), and it certainly wasn't burning anything off, but it obviously didn't polymerize the fat as it should have either. You, and the countless others, that have brought up it's low smoking point as a potential problem may be on to something though, as the usual complaint I see with Flaxseed seasoning, is that during use (typically at higher heat), it tends to flake off...... which is exactly what I am seeing in excess now that I'm using it several times a day. So much so, that I am going to burn that Flaxseed thorn in my side to ash this evening in my oven's self-cleaning mode and just start fresh. I don't ever want to see that stuff anywhere near my CI again.... Ever.
I do not usually use excessive high heat in my cooking, so I am hoping that this flaking business in my future season does not come off as I am currently seeing. I am wondering how the "experts" are heating at high heat, however, to sear meats without destroying their seasoning if it does in fact cause the seasoning to flake.
In my last post, I mentioned that only the interior's bottom had gummed up and come off --- haha! Leave it to me to post too early (see previous posts). After continual use, the seasoning has been flaking off more and more.... including the interior's sides. I wasn't going to worry about it too much, just scrape it off with my spatula and keep going, but it's bad enough to where I see it actually needs to be removed completely *deep sigh*.
Here we go again - Square one - Naked pan.
Oh and just for the sake of mentioning it in case it makes a difference some where, the only part of the skillet that got gummy and seasoning had to be scraped off was the bottom interior of the pan. This of course is were it gets the hottest.
Thanx Cowboyardee, that eases my rust-worry a lot.... and, Yeah, she sure looked pretty didn't she? =) .... But, it didn't work out the way I had hoped.
I had to leave town that afternoon that I last posted, so was unable to get to sharing the actual cooking results until now. What unfortunately happened is that the inside interior got really gummy when I fried some 15% ground beef in the pan, so the beef was really sticking to it. I started out with the pan good and hot as well as wiping a thin layer of palm oil over the bottom before beginning "just to be sure". I also attempted to fry some eggs after that with plenty of oil in the pan, but again the stickiness got worse. I scraped it down pretty well with my metal spatula and cooked bacon in it (uncured with no nitrates). There was still a tiny bit of gumminess happening here and there which I just kept scraping away, and occasionally the bacon would try to stick a bit to the pan even though it was then swimming in it's own grease - It wasn't horrible though and still better than stainless steel.
I had realized at some point early on that the gumminess was the seasoning coming up.... so the oil obviously didn't polymerize like I had hoped.
It is a possibility that I did not put my rounds of oil on thin or dry enough during my modified seasoning process as Sheryl Canter suggests. My wipes of oil were not leaving the pan looking almost "dry" as she describes how it should be. They were usually thin, yes, but looking "dry"?.... I don't think I could say that.
Another possibility is that there is a lot to be said about cooling the pan (slowly or otherwise). It just might be a sort of curing process that is necessary. But, as I have said before, I am not a scientist, so I haven't a clue.
In the end, I had to end up sort of sanding the bottom interior of the pan out and washing it really well a few times which took about 80-90% of the seasoning off. I wish now that I had taken a picture, but I was in such a hurry with so much to do before leaving town that I just didn't. The sanding removed all the rough edges and un-polymerized fat from the bottom to smooth it out and give me a solid base for season (in whatever fashion that meant at this point). The appearance after sanding was an even dis-colorization of black, a reddish color with the bare silver shade peaking through . Kind of like a granite counter-top has the different colors through-out but yet an evenness to it all. I honestly thru' my hands up to it all at this point, and thought I would just heat it in the oven for an hour to set that "Black Rust" that Sheryl Canter described and then just season it old school... each use, on the stove before cooking with it, then wiping it down and re-oiling it "dry" before storing the pan away until the next time. After I then left it in the oven (un-oiled) for an hour, it did blacken the reddish hue (I'm assuming this is the "black rust" Ms Canter mentions), and I have cooked with it a couple of times since then. I just make sure to oil the bottom well before beginning to cook.
This morning I made gluten-free pumpkin pancakes in the skillet, and they turned out beautifully. I was surprised at how well they absolutely did not stick (there was only 2 Tablespoons of Coconut oil in the whole batch of batter by the way), and the pan seemed to just retain the palm oil shortening that I oiled it with, without soaking in but ever-so-slightly or even the pancakes absorbing it. It was kind of odd to me really, but I certainly wasn't complaining. I then wiped it clean with paper towels when I was done, and spread around a very small amount of new palm oil shortening, wiping it completely "dry".
Returning to the skillet some 12 hours later, and it looks a bit more seasoned than when I started (from the last sanding). I decided to place it in the oven at 500°F for an hour again, and I will oil it again with palm oil shortening and just leave it in the oven to cool off I think.
My thought at this point is that there just might not be any rushing of the seasoning process. I REALLY hope this turns out to be false, but unless I try again (and wiping the oil absolutely dry this time) I just don't know....
By the way, I had been reading over and over again from others that the flax-seed oil seasoning looks great when done, but that it just doesn't hold up against the other oils during use. That it burns off far to easily, flakes, etc., etc., etc.. There seems to be such a wide gamete of opinion on this matter that is spoken as if the Bible, so who really knows. Personally, I am putting the Flaxseed aside at this time, and using mainly palm oil shortening and some bacon grease thrown in every now and again to prep it before cooking use each time. I've decided to not fret over it any more. This is not to say I won't "Black Rust" treat it every so often followed with one round of oven seasoning (with palm oil shortening) and then allow it to cool... when I've got a spare moment. But basically, I'm going to not worry about it, and just use my pan :)
Secretly, I sincerely hope someone can come up with something that sticks.... errr I mean slicks *lol*. And, knowing me.... I will likely attempt something again somewhere down the line, even tho' I said I'm not going to fret over it anymore ;)
I found this article from Sheryl Canter's site, that I was unaware of prior, and talks about Red and Black Rust, and seasoning cast iron. Very interesting, however she is also merely passing along info. given to her, so I can't claim it's validity. She also talks about heating the pan dry for an hour at high heat to beginning the process of "black rust" before seasoning (this is suppose to be good, I guess). I actually did this, and although my pan did come out black, there is an underlying reddish hue as I mentioned before. Still not sure about this, and reading her article has me kinda' worried.
Here's the link to Sheryl Canter's article on Black and Red Rust in seasoning cast iron:
Today, I got around to trying out the oven quick coating idea, and the pan looks gorgeous, smooth & glossy. I want to allow it to completely cool and set until I cook on it however, so breakfast will be the tester experience - I can't wait.
This is what I did:
The next day (so pan had been completely cooled from round 1 of the original Sheryl Canter Flaxseed oil oven seasoning method), I heat the oven to 550°F and placed my sanded, naked, silver, new Lodge skillet in this inferno for 1 hour WITHOUT ANY OIL. Using Silicone pot holders, I removed the pan from the oven and spread about 1 Tablespoon of Flaxseed oil all over with a paper towel and set the timer for 1 minute then continued to just wipe the oil around for at least 30 seconds of that time. Once the 1 minute was up, I used a clean paper towel to wipe up the excess and placed the skillet back into the 550°F oven laying upside down. The timer was set for 5 minutes, and then the process repeated 11 more times. The last 2 times I did leave the pan right-side-up in the oven to make sure the top edges of the pan got some coverage - I had done a lot of sliding of the pan on the oven racks during the entire process with it face down (it was flippin hot!), and the top edges kept getting scraped. Also, I should note that about half way through it all I had to stop so that I could pick-up my son from football practice. So, the skillet was left in the oven longer than 5 minutes for that one round - It was left in for 18 minutes to be exact.
Cowboyardee's initial concern (and mine as well) of the pan possibly not retaining enough heat after the first few coats to burn down the oil quickly enough?............. Let me just say, that was NOT an issue. If anything, I was beginning to worry that the pan was far too hot. Oil was smoking the second I began to smear it around, and absorbing in really well. What I noticed tho' was that the skillet appeared to get hotter and hotter and hotter with each round. --- This, of course, led to the debated discussion with my 17 year old son as to whether or not a cast iron pan could actually retain and continue to absorb heat so that it becomes hotter than the oven temp --- I'm pretty sure it DID continue to get hotter. I finally had to resort to using tongs to hold the paper towels, and my silicone hot pads were starting to show burn marks if held onto the pan any longer than a few seconds at a time. I would also feel the heat through them almost immediately. Moving the pan had to be calculated, quick and cautious. Although my pan is not warped or seems weakened in any way, I can only hope that whatever ridiculous temperature that bad boy finally hit, it does not cause it's early demise =/.
From start to finish, if doing 12 coats (I know.... that does sound excessive, but I was on a roll), I would say it takes between 1 hour, 40 minutes to 2 hours depending on how quickly you move. I'm very happy with the esthetic result. The coat is slick, glossy, smooth, black (remember, it started out silver) and hard without any stickiness. There is a reddish hue when the light hits it which looks cool, but has me a bit concerned. When I think of red and cast iron, I think of "Red Rust" which not a good thing. I cannot see how this would be possible, however I am no scientist. I am wondering instead, if it has to do with some chemical response to how I seasoned it. I am also noticing that other people's photos of their seasoned skillets appear to have somewhat of a reddish hue as well, so who knows(?).
I've attached some photos so you can see what the end result was and will get back to you after I have actually cooked on it =). Oh, and by the way, yes this pan was cool and dry when I took the pictures.
Thank you so much for your honest and detailed experience of Sheryl Canter's seasoning method. It helps to hear from real people in everyday life and whether or not something works. I too did about six seasoning methods using Ms Canter's flaxseed oil method, and was impressed by the color and sheen building up, but my first attempt at cooking on it killed it for me. I fried eggs, to give it a true test.... They stuck. I also felt that the scrubbing I had to do to get it off my pan took away a portion of the seasoning - All that time and work for nothing. It was depressing. Maybe I was expecting too much too fast. (FYI: I am using a brand new Lodge 12" pan that WAS factory pre-seasoned, but I un-seasoned it using the self-cleaning oven method - which works beautifully by the way. I'm allergic to soy which also throws my Thyroid into under-active mode, and Lodge uses Soy, "Vegetable", oil, so the stuff HAD to go.
After the egg frying experience, I ended up sanding down the inside of my pan with 80 grit belt sandpaper (didn't use the belt sander, just the sandpaper because it is extremely tough and thick stuff), and then hand sanded again with 120 grit belt sandpaper. This was the finest grit I had on hand, so I stopped there. I then washed my pan out really well, and dried it in the oven at 200°F for 15 minutes, removed it and poured the Flaxseed oil into the pan. I spread it around all over and let it sit for about 5 minutes to allow some to soak in. I wiped it down with a clean papertowel, but then felt that far too much oil had been removed (the pan seemed dry). I added a bit more Flaxseed oil, wiped it really well and put it in my oven. I turned it on, set at 550°F and set the oven to turn off in about 1 hr, 15 min.
Well, the pan is sitting in my oven now (turned off) going thru' the cooling process... and I got to thinking about your modified stovetop version of the Flaxseed seasoning. What if we took that same concept of repeated quick coatings, but did it in the oven with the pan laying upside down?.... Say, every 5 minutes or so? Maybe this would eliminate the uneven bottom-of-the-pan seasoning you said you experienced and still allow for a better, thicker, stronger seasoning that you also seemed to achieve on the stovetop. I think I will try it and let you know what happens. Any thoughts on why this may or may not be a good idea are welcome :)