I Am a Cast Iron Failure

It’s true.

I just don’t understand. It supposedly came PRE-SEASONED. I did what it said. I washed it only in very hot water, towel dried it quickly, and almost always put it on the stove afterwards to make sure it was totally dry.Before I put it away, I almost always coated it in oil or butter. And if I didn’t do it when I put it away for some reason, I certainly oiled it before I used it again.I didn’t cook tomato-based sauces or citrus in it. I scrubbed it with a brush and coarse salt, never dish soap.

And yet here it is – a scratched up, rusty mess. And I’ve only had it for like 2 or 3 months!

This leaves me thoroughly convinced of what I had suspected before I even set eyes on this skillet: caring for cast-iron is best learned hands-on, from someone who knows what they’re doing.

I had never used cast iron before this, and I had hoped to figure out what to do from the internet. Alas, I was never quite sure how much to scrub – I’m told I want a blackish build-up, but should that build-up have an odor, or is that the bad kind of build-up? If it’s supposedly pre-seasoned and non-stick, why do my eggs stick terribly to the bottom of it and leave me laboriously scrubbing every inch of the inside with salt to get all the egg off. And then what? Does it need to be seasoned all over again because I’ve scrubbed it so hard?

So I think I’m going back to Teflon. I hate knowing that I’m inhaling poisonous fumes as I cook, but I need something USABLE. I don’t think that I should have to dread making scrambled eggs.

If you know of some kind of magical cast-iron cure-all, I’m all ears.

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6 Responses

  1. Personally, the first thing I would do is scrub the dickens out of it with SOAP and hot water. (Yes, I know you aren’t supposed to, but if it stinks, you gotta get that out of/off of the pan.)Then get some lard and coat the skillet with it, bake it at 250 for 3-4 hours. (you may have to do this more than once and then periodically as you use them until they are seasoned as you like them)
    I ALWAYS cook with some kind of oil when I use my pan – but never an aerosol. 99% of the time I use olive oil. I have even used tomato based sauces and I haven’t had a problem with my pans. They are over 30 years old and I dug them out of a box and the pans were rusty and dirty. Hope that helps. Had to leave a comment because I don’t want you going back to Teflon. That’s BAD stuff!!!

  2. Hi there! Well, I found your blog somewhere…hmmm…where was it? Oh, it was through WFMW! Anyway, I have been making your tea for coughs and it is GREAT! As far as your pan goes, I just scrape any cooked on stuff out of mine with a Pampered Chef Nylon Scraper..and NO, I am not being compensated for this recommendation! Then I just wipe it out with a paper towel, and it is good to go. Sometimes I do rinse it in hot water, if it seems to need it, but it doesn’t always. Frying some bacon in your pan will help to reseason it, and I’m sure that the method for lard reseasoning in the oven , as mentioned by “m” will work too. I personally would not use any soap on it…from personal experience I can tell you that using soap on my pan was a total disaster….unless you like to eat soap flavored food!
    Eggs are tricky in a cast iron pan. The trick is to use lots of butter or oil (enough to coat the bottom of your skillet) and then make sure to cook your eggs over LOW heat. I too always use some type of actual oil when cooking in my skillet…it isn’t like a nonstick pan that will work with aerosol sprays. I think those sprays are pretty unhealthy anyway!
    Good luck with your skillet…keep trying! It takes awhile to get used to cooking with one. Really. It took me forever to figure out how to actually keep mine seasoned, and how to cook really well with one until I got some great help from a family friend who only uses cast iron cookware. Hopefully whatever advice you get today will help you out!

  3. This is comment effort #2

    Hubby (the cook) says:

    1) Keep trying; a good cast iron skillet has be to used often to get properly seasoned. Stay away from sticky stuff for a while (stick to good and greasy).

    2) Maybe it’s a crappy pan.

    Good luck.

  4. wait a minute… are there really good and crappy cast iron pans? i too would consider myself a cast iron failure, but now i’m wondering…..

  5. you can always go with an enameled cast iron pan, like Le Crueset makes. All the goodness of cast iron, but without the hassle of seasoning!

  6. Jenni, I bought one of the pre-seasoned pans a year ago, and it didn’t take too long for the pre-seasoning to wear out, even though I did all the things you said.

    I searched all over the internet reading about how to care for the thing, and tried all sorts of ideas. The thing, I think, that saved my pan was to oil it as soon as I was done washing it, and then heating that oil on the burner for 5 minutes or so. (I set a timer to remember to turn it off).

    Our pan frequently gets washed in soap, as one of the two of us forgets, but as long as I apply the oil and reheat it, it’s always okay. I agree, use only oily and greasy foods for awhile, till it’s coated. But after that… I cook everything in it, even tomato sauces on occasion. As far as eggs go, I always generously apply coconut oil before I cook them.

    I always season my pan with coconut oil or olive oil, the latter which is not the most recommended, but it’s always okay.

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