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Help! Cast Iron Nightmare

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We get questions all day regarding cast iron cookware. Feel free to post your own questions here to our message board.

Here is the latest:

Dear Texas Cooking: I may have used to much shortening when I first started.

Instructions with the Lodge pan said to melt shortening, which I did. But shortening started to solidify before I could coat entire pan, so I may have used more than I actually needed

I used a brush thinking this would work better. Maybe I should have used something else.

Some places "seasoned" while I have spots that remain clear. They still remain clear even though I tried to repeat the process. And in doing so the center of the pan has started to turn black, but it does not have a smooth surface, and it still has some streaks.

I had thought it would turn black immediately after first seasoning. I learned, after reading your site, that it doesn't do that.

I would like to start over, but I don't know how to go about it without making a mess.

I don't want to have to buy a new pan.


Dear Help:

To start over, do this: Put the pan in a preheated 300F degree oven for about 15 minutes. The excess shortening on your pan will liquify. Remove the skillet from the oven. Use a hotpad holder because the skillet will be hot. Set the skillet on one of your stove burners (do not turn on the burner). Carefully wipe out the inside of the skillet with paper towels. Fold the paper towels several times so that you don't burn yourself. That should take care of any excess grease.

Now, to start over: It's really easier to put the shortening on if you don't melt it. The Lodge instructions have changed, and not for the better, I think. They used to say "Grease cookware with a thin coat of solid vegetable shortening," and that's really the simplest, best way to do it. I don't know if you have ever greased a cake pan before, but that's exactly the amount of shortening you should use. Just rub it on with your fingers. (Wait until your pan cools before you do this.) You don't have to make the shortening disappear completely. There's no art to this -- just don't use big glops of shortening.

When you put the skillet back in the oven to season it, put it in upsidedown. Put a cookie sheet or something on the rack below to catch any shortening drips. Let it "cook" for at least an hour, then turn off the heat and leave the skillet in the oven until it's cool.

Since you have never seasoned cast iron before, I can tell you don't know what to expect your skillet to look like. No, the surface won't be smooth like teflon. And it may have color variations here and there. That's okay. Cast iron skillets are wonderful, but they're not necessarily beautiful. The more you use the skillet, the darker it will gradually get, but it's a process that takes quite a bit of time.

With a new skillet, I always season it twice before using it. You don't have to, but I think it gives a nicer surface to start off with.

I hope this helps you out. Don't worry so much about it. You're not going to hurt your skillet. Cast iron is practically indestructible. If you have any more questions, let me know.

Patricia Mitchell

Texas Cooking Online

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It isn't rocket science. I coated mine cold and wiped it down and put it in the oven. I like your idea of turning it upside down Pat. I'll try that next time. I got a burnt on glob in the bottom.

Every time you clean up, wash with water if you want, but cook it dry and grease it when thru. Also, store it with a quarter sheet of paper towel. My sister quit using her D.O. right away because it "got rusty." She didn't too much like the idea of cleaning with water, oven drying, greasing and using a paper towel. Therefore, she quit.

I think D.O.'s are the neatest thing in captivity. I take an old horse water trough on a cold windy Idaho day, put the D.O. and volcano in there and cover it with some plywood with some air accomodations. I can get two more months of cooking this way.

I want to build a cooking shed for cooking and eating and getting out of the west wind. I want a brick bread oven in that sucker also. Cook 12 loaves of hand ground bread and then use the retained heat to cook cookies or D.O. dishes. You need a lot of space and a lot of bread to capture the steam and get better crust on the loaves. Read "Build your own bread oven" by Denzer and "The Bread Builders" by Wing and Scott for more info.

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