Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Seasoning Tip

This funky old Griswold breakfast skillet came my way with some cooked on, nasty looking, eggish residue and some minor surface rust.

I let the pan soak in the electrolysis tank overnight. Was I smart enough to take a couple of before and after shots? HELL NO!

The electrolysis tank did its usual fine job. I then scrubbed the skillet with hot water, soap and a stiff brush and put it into a 200 degree oven to dry.

The skillet at this point was just hot, naked, (words carefully chosen to ensnare search engines) cast iron, looking like it was cast that very morning.

At this point I actually had a good idea. The oven temperature knob was cranked to 550 degrees and the skillet stayed in the oven for a little over 30 minutes. When I removed it I needed to use 2 hot pads and it was still a little hot to handle but I rubbed it down with a paper towel soaked in a good extra virgin olive oil. The oven was turned off and I put the skillet back in with the door cracked to let it cool. I pulled it out after 10 minutes and wiped it down again to make sure the oil did not congeal. After 30 minutes the pan came out and sat on a cooling rack.

Looking at the skillet it is obvious that the super hot iron soaked up the oil. The 550 degree iron was well past the smoke point of the olive oil so some polymerization probably occurred as well giving it the nice dark brown patina. I've done no other seasoning, what you see is the result of a single treatment. I suspect I stumbled into something similar to what Lodge does for the "pre-seasoned" cast iron they sell.

I'll start using it tomorrow morning and report on how well it works.

Update: 4 fried eggs were cooked as a test for seasoning. They did not stick but this skillet still needs more use before it works like a well seasoned Griswold. I expect eggs to glide around inside the pan when it is swirled and this just takes a little time to develop.

This pan is not as versatile as a round skillet. Cooking bacon and fried eggs looks like it's forte but leftover rewarming is another use I can see. It sure is a well made and finished piece of black iron. Only Le Creuset produces cast iron of similar quality today.


Eleanor Hoh said...

Greg, I'm so excited finding your blog, we share many of the same philosophies about using and caring for cast iron. I teach wok cooking and offer a preseasoned, lightweight cast iron wok set so people won't have to. I agree, it's most important "base" to set it up. Introduced to thin wall, cast iron wok by my mother. Still working through your extensive and informational site. Great stuff. I'm working on a blog about this topic and will link to your site.

Greg said...

Thank you Eleanor!

You have some beautiful looking food on your site and I'm planning on watching your videos.

sm1nts2escape said...

I am seasoning a new era peice its a el paso chile co. fajita iron similar to a lodge.I started by using crisco at 250 for and hour then slowly took the heat up in steps while shortening the duration till I got to 525 at 15 minutes.At each step point in heat I wiped the iron down with fresh crisco.The pan looks great so far but I want to season it some more and bring the temp up close to 600 as well.I think the reason the lodge seasoning wares off is because they don't let the oil soak into the pan long enough at a lower temp.What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I have taken 220 grit sand paper on a cool dry or wet skillet to remove some of the checking of a skillet that got too hot.

Someone might find this useful. I think that you can take a pretty rough and checked black or dark brown finish and sand it down where needed, then begin the wok type of treatement: heat to (I like 475) for a half-hour or so then take an old sock with some EVOO on it and rup hard to try to get down into the pores. Then close the oven door until the smoking stops, then go about 15 more minutes. Open the door and repeat with the EVOO sock. I have been too impatient to let the skillet cool down, but I have had no problems.

Julia said...

Great piece! I just found a Wagner Ware "Bacon & Eggs" skillet just like it at a local junk shop.