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Cleaning/caring for cast iron WITHOUT using paper towels?

Go drill mounted sander! Yea! Smooth finish! It's cheap but it ain't free. There are also drill mounted rust remover things, as well as pre-cut rounds of sand paper, but I just cut my own rounds from regular sand paper and glue 'em down with double face tape. You will probably only have to do this once per pan per lifetime.

I also dry on the gas stove top and rarely oil my pan before putting it away unless I really had to strip it bad while cleaning. I usually oil/prime before using. I also use little tiny pieces of paper towel. I too am shocked at the price of paper towels. I sually just use a little ripped off piece I use them at all.
In case you haven't noticed, paper towels are also a lot cheaper to buy in the bigger package of multiple roles. You could always rip up you old t-shirts into little pieces and just throw as you go.

Feb 18, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

rusty cast iron

You do know that salt will make iron rust much faster!! While it true that we use salt in cooking, it seems foolish to rub salt in the wound-- so to speak. This salt and water method seems like some old redneck insanity. Just have Faith and rattlesnakes next.

Just use steel wool and/or sand paper-- whatever degree of scrubbing is fast enough and thorough enough to remove all the rust. S.O.S. pads actually have some kind of rust preventive going that keeps the pad from rusting away too fast. Barkeeper friend has an acid that helps remove rust/oxidation but can cause more rust if you can't get it out of all the pores.

For a new stick free cooking surface,let oil soak in slow in a liquified form. Once the oil reaches smoking temperatures it will "polymerize." Which if fine for the non-cooking surfaces but I prefer a nice smooth non-polymerized oily finish on the cooking surface. You can turn the heat on a freshly oiled pan up until it just starting to get thoroughly warm then turn if off and let it sit there, or leave it on low for 10 minutes or so and turn it off and let it sit there for a while to get a nice smooth stick free oily finish.

Feb 18, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

help me troubleshoot my cast iron experience

Remarkably, the casting is pretty smooth on this and it is a ridged griddle for meat. It really stinks toxic to me when heated, but as I have lots of allergies, and I may be more sensitive. I am thinking of throwing it in an outdoor fire when weather permits and just burning it all off. I think these coatings are just to keep the iron from rusting in shipping, but I wish they would just use oil or wax. Most of this stuff probably comes from China by sea and salt air could be an issue even in a shipping container. (Another thing I would never do to an iron griddle is rub salt in it. Maybe on an aluminum griddle that could be done.)

Jan 31, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

help me troubleshoot my cast iron experience

Polymerize! Good new word. That's that plastic goo that the oil becomes at high temperatures that I can't stand in my pans. Its fine on the outside of a pan-- I just don't like it on the cooking surface. That actually works for you? I find it just tends to mess up the cooking surface. Not as slippery or stick free. If I burn an iron pan, I will actually scrub it down and start over. Plus, I hate stinking up my kitchen with smoke. No fan. Old house. Smoking oil is poison and all those nice solvent type chemicals, the slippery stuff thats in WD--40 that even cooking oil has some of is really what soaks into metal and is what evaporates first in a burn, i.e., smoking fat. I never smoke fat. Tastes nasty, smells worse.

Jan 31, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

help me troubleshoot my cast iron experience

I don't have the science to see exactly what is going on at the molecular level---all I know is low heat temp, iron, oil/fat, and time make non-stick happen. This may have more to do with the liquidity of the oil/fat at low warm temperatures, but since it works much better on iron than stainless, I am guessing that iron has some porous qualities. Heck I don't know. It might be some electronic bonding on the atomic level, after all heat/electricity is about shifting electron charges. All I know is this is what works.

Jan 31, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

garlic press--am I doing something wrong, or is this a wasteful tool?

The thing about the rubber tube is I already have fingers with skin that are kind of rubbery so why bother with the tube. A little jiggly twisty action usually loosens skin pretty quick. I like it better than picking skin off a squashed clove and the darn little things stays between my fingers the whole time saving wasted movement. . .(I do snip off the stem end with a knife,-- after the jiggly twist)

Jan 31, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

Bamboo Steamer? for tamales...

I am allergic to wheat as well food additves and other things so Iike to keep a stash of home made tamales in the freezer for a quick protein-starch meal. I find the microwave doesn't cut it --they need to be steamed. The stainless steel steamer that I am using now allows plenty of room for water in the bottom but is not a tight fit on the pot and tends to steam up the whole kitchen. (I generally steam for 20 minutes) The electric plug in plastic steamer which I have used for bigger batches tends to get the masa too tender and usually I just steam one or two at a time anyway. I just heard from a friend that bamboo steamers work great BUT YOU HAVE TO STEAM THEM OUT THOROUGHLY FIRST TO GET THE BAMBOO FLAVOR OUT. Wow. My bamboo steamer is in the back of my pickup right now waiting to go to the thrift store because it made the food taste so gnarly. Or maybe I already dumped it.. . Anyway anyone else have this experience with Bamboo steamers? Any other tips on good small quantity steaming?

Jan 31, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

help me troubleshoot my cast iron experience

READ THE WHOLE POST!

If you read my whole post you will notice I call what I do "priming" the pan. This may be mostly semantics but then I don't really advocate "carbonization" so maybe it's more than that.. My method is to give the oil some time to steep into the pan at low warm temperatures. I use stainless steel for braising this way and it reduces pan stick only slightly and all the nice sticky things get cooked off with liquid eventually anyway. I guess you were doing a quicky read but the point was, and even as you say stainless steel cannot be "seasoned" but any other name or activity, so that proves that iron has some porous qualities that stainless steel does not so iron is relatively "porous".

Jan 29, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

garlic press--am I doing something wrong, or is this a wasteful tool?

I used a knife and a cutting board for years and found I got obsessive-cumpulsive with crushing/chopping garlicand just wasted too much time and sometimes made too much garlic!. Perhaps partly because I prefer a larger utility/slicer style knife to a big fat Chef knife or like, It not only takes too much time but then I had to clean the cutting board which really gets gross with garlic. So when my mother brought home a bargain Zyliss from the thrift store I really took to it. It some cases I still will chop or slice garlic relatively coarsly but when you want a nice mash of garlic nothing beats a garlic press. I do peel. I just twist the little clove in my fingers to loosen the skin, cutting off the stem end and they usually peel easy. Forget dry chinese garlic I am a fan of local (to CA)Christoper Ranch, big cloves and garlic that peels easy. Purple garlic usually peels easier. As far as waste-- What Waste? or WHY???!!! I use everything in the press. I just scrape down with a little knife and go for a second press which is quick and works suprisingly well. Sometimes I will do a final scrape out of the press and put that in the food too, depending what I am cooking and time constraints. Final scrape out or no, for cleaning I soak the press in water and it is far easier to clean than the stinking cutting board and takes less time than truly minced/crushed garlic on a cutting board.

In short, I love my garlic press.

Jan 29, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

help me troubleshoot my cast iron experience

My experience with cast iron is also purely pragmatic. All I know is If you leave oil/fat in a pan for long enough at low, i,e., highly liquid, temperatures (or turn in up to low-medium and quickly turn it off ) and really let the oil sit in the warm pan for a prolonged period, like an hour, or repeat if you want a good head start, you can do pancakes right off the bat with no problem as long as the pan had a nice smooth clean metal finish to start with and you keep a greasy paper towel around to insure a thin film of oil between batches.

I call it priming the pan. I never understood why it was called seasoning anyway until I stumbled across an amazon post that claimed "THE WAY" is too have hard carbonized old oil stuck to the iron--which takes a good long time to develop properly. Carbonized oil will flake off unless the oil got a good chance to soak in while in liquid form first. Really it seems like this method is only reasonable if you use your pan say, exclusively for pancakes at a low temp. Come to think of it this is how my old aluminum plate waffle iron works... more or less... with a little cooking spray now and then. So it does seem to me there is more than one method that works, but it depends what you all use you iron pan for.

As far as iron being porous---I use the same treatment on my stainless steel cooking surface/ aluminum clad pans. It doesn't work quite as well as on iron so I have to assume that iron is somehow more porous.

I do agree that high temperatures are not going to work simply because at high temperatures the oil turns to glue before it can soak into the iron porous or not! A nice even low temperature and liquidy shortening with plenty of time is the way to go. On the other hand if you have grandma's old griddle and it's not going to be used for anything else but pancakes on the pancakes side and it looks like it's "seasoned," leave it intact and give it a shot. After all, it was good enough for grandma. If the seasoning is gooey and gross and the metal isn't smooth enough and someone else threw it out to the thrift store, it might be worth it to break out the drill sander and start over with fresh smooth metal.

Jan 28, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

Help! New knife, but I'm intimidated by honing.

LOW BUDGET?

While shopping around for a new knife I found a nice japanse knife website with good directions on how to sharpen a knife. I decided to give it a shot and save an old but decent knife that needed sharpening that I like the size and feel of. I was surprisingly successful first try EVEN with a cheap old worn crooked stone. Later I used the sidewalk as a flattening stone to hone my old stone flat so next time I get a still better edge.

I also use one of those pull through "sharpeners" with ceramic honing rods to hone the knife and I haven't resharpened it much since. ...too lazy I guess, plus the knife still works so much better than anything in the house that I've given up on buying a new expensive knife.

I do advocate a bit of patience and being in the right state of mind to sharpen a knife properly, especially the first time. Following the japanese knife sharpening directions carefully like a good little beginner really worked for me though.

Jan 28, 2009
meetoo in Cookware

Absinthe?

Even last year I saw Absinthe at the local licquor store. It is now Jan 2009 and Absinthe is now legal in the States.

It is made with the herb wormwood which is medicinal and a digestive in small quantities but can cause all kinds of problems if you drink too much. Check Mrs. Grieve herbal for info on wormwood properties: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mg...

Jan 23, 2009
meetoo in France

help me troubleshoot my cast iron experience

I love iron pans. i like an iron pan with a nice smooth, slick surface and have bought used ones at the thrift store and ground down the old "seasoning" and any roughness on the surface with a drill mounted sander.

The trick to "seasoning", or "priming the pan," as I call it, is low temperature and time for the oil to bond or sink into the iron at these low temperatures. Heating the oil too hot just turns the oil to glue, or a plastic like coating that can and will flake off. Mostly though, this hard glue-plastic stuff is just not a good stick-free surface. Only slick slidey oil on a smooth surface is stick-free. (Think of your car engine!) I like to put a thin coat of vegetable oil or spray on the pan turn the heat on the burner on low for a little while, five minutes maybe, and then just turn it off and let it sit. I do the low-temp oil treatment to some degree before every time I fry or at least if the pan has been thoroughly cleaned lately, and I like it much better than teflon.

I will clean a sticky pan with steel wool, a rough nylon scrubby, even soapy steel wool. Basically do what you have to do to get the pan smooth-- stripping away as little of the oil as is possible or reasonable, but don't worry about it if you've had a burn or just used your pan for some more messy and/or high-temp type process--iron is forgiving. If the pan really gets stripped just dry the clean pan over a burner and then apply a thin layer of oil before putting it away.

My mother just bought a new iron griddle that seems to be coated with some toxic paint. I would bring it back but my mother bought it. I will make a seperate post to address this problem.

Jan 22, 2009
meetoo in Cookware