Cleaning cast iron skillet

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dodgy55
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Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by dodgy55 »

After much use, our cast iron skillet had a rough cooking surface and to get a smooth surface I sanded it with emory cloth. It sure came out smooth and clean. However the wife says I ruined the finish and we should think about getting a new one. I feel we just need to re-season the pan and it will be as good as new. Belatedly, I looked around the internet and most sites advised to only use a stiff plastic type brush for cleaning. I'd like opinions as to whether putting emory cloth to cast iron is OK and a simple seasoning process will do or should I consider a new one?
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Jimmie
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Jimmie »

Sanding it, even if you take off metal in the most extreme case, will only require you to re-season the pan. I have several cast iron pans and have done this many times with great results.

The only problem is that it takes a while to get that really seasoned surface back.
mattsm
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by mattsm »

Ha, you will have to post a picture of what it looks like after that.

It's probably not ruined just needs to be restored.

-M
FunnelCakeBob
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by FunnelCakeBob »

I've used cast iron for more than 10 years and use only stiff nylon brush and hot water for cleaning. Then quick dry the cast iron on high heat and apply a thin coat of oil.

It doesn't sound like you ruined your skillet but certainly had removed its existing seasoning. Just re-season your skillet with a high-flash-point oil such as grapeseed or canola inside a hot oven for 30-40 mins. Check around online for exact instructions. Use a stiff brush next time. Cast iron is pretty forgiving.
barnaclebob
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by barnaclebob »

run it through the oven on the clean cycle if yours has it. Then do this: https://www.reddit.com/r/castiron/comme ... g_process/

I used the flax seed method and it flaked off but was replaced with seasoning that build up with normal use.

It is extremely important to wipe off as much excess oil as possible or it will basically form a tar like substance which is nearly impossible to remove without starting over.

Don't use an abrasive stronger than scotch brite after its seasoned. Sometimes i'll need to use the end of a metal spatula to get rid of some stubborn stuck on bits though.
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Abe
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Abe »

I don't think you ruined the skillet. It just needs re-seasoning. After taking the seasoning off it's probably a grey color. Once you get it seasoned good the color will be black. Spread a very thin layer of crisco shortening all over the skillet. Place it upside down on a middle oven rack. Place foil under it to catch drips. Bake 2 hours at 375 degrees. Try not to use anything to abrasive when cleaning it, and always get it good and dry after cleaning it or it will rust. The more you use it, the better the seasoning will get.
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gmc4h232
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by gmc4h232 »

I dont think its possible to ruin cast iron beyond repair. If you think you scrubbed the seasoning off, then just re-season. If this is the case, then Yes it will take some time to get back to its former greatness, but I certainly wouldnt get rid of the pan.

Think about it - you have 2 components, cast-iron and the seasoning layer that protects the cast iron from rusting and keeps food from sticking. If you get rid of the seasoning layer by sanding it off, the cast iron component is still intact, so just re-season it before it starts to rust and you are good to go.

I use nylon brush and reg dish soap on mine, I just try to clean it soon after using it so i really dont have to put elbow grease into it to get stuck on foods off.

Cast iron has a cult following, but truth be told i much prefer my stainless copper core all-clad skillet to my cast iron.
Last edited by gmc4h232 on Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Teague
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Teague »

It's fine. You don't need to get fancy with the re-seasoning either. Cook a few hamburgers for the family tonight in a little butter. Don't cook acidic foods like tomato dishes, at least not for a while. Don't use soap to clean it, ever. Good for a couple hundred years.
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stimulacra
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by stimulacra »

You can't ruin a cast iron skillet. I take pleasure in rehabbing them back to usable condition (You can get them for real cheap at estate sales).

Below is a great method using flaxseed oil.
https://www.thekitchn.com/i-seasoned-my ... ned-224612

Lodge and other contemporary brands have a bit of a rough finish. Over time they'll smooth out but I don't mind them really. I'll use a dremel every so often to grind off carbon buildup.

Below is a good community on Reddit to give guidance:
http://reddit.com/r/castiron/

Also tons of tutorials on Youtube to restore and re-season.
CWhea1775
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by CWhea1775 »

So here is a rather astounding trick that I have seen done with cast iron skillets myself. It will be the "nuclear option", so only use when you are about to toss the skillet out;

WARNING: This could be both dangerous and also cause cracking if the skillet is flawed. It does work on old, crusty, rusty skillets though.

Go camping or some other place where you can build a good fire. Use hardwood or other fuel that can really develop some coals. Build a fire as hot as you can get, and get a bed of coals that is really red hot and big enough to completely bury the skillet. Put the skillet in the fire, cover with coals, and keep the fire going until the skillet is red hot - and I mean glowing, cherry red.

Let the fire die down - at least till the next day, Carefully remove the skillet - it may still be hot!!! Once cooled down - all traces of rust and crust can be just brushed away - they will be ash.

You will have an essentially brand new skillet, which will need to be re-seasoned before use.
Windylotus
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Windylotus »

I've been using cast iron for 15+ years. Get stainless-steel scrubby pads (like steel wool), run your skillet under piping hot water and scrub it clean. Dry with a couple paper towels then put about a pea size drop of canola oil in the pan. Use the paper towel you just dried the pan with to spread the oil all around. That's it, your done. Been doing this method for years and our pans are seasoned so well they are better non-stick pans than our fancy Teflon non-stick pans! You can't ruin cast iron. I have taken the rustiest, nasty skillets and brought them back to life. Hope this helps
Windylotus
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Windylotus »

You may need to heat the pan up in the oven and do several oil applications to re-season it. My above post is just daily regular maintenance.
bryanm
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by bryanm »

To jump on the bandwagon: no, it's not ruined. You removed some of the seasoning. Is it dull and grey, and does food stick to it? If so, reseason. Is it shiny and black and as nonstick as it was before? Then it's fine, no issues. I concur with the comments above about reseasoning, as well as use of a self-clean oven cycle to strip it before reseasoning.

You may have actually done yourself a favor if you got the pan's surface more even. New pans (like Lodge) use sand casting that leaves a rough surface. Older pans (like Griswold) were sanded down to remove that surface, leaving a nicer, more non-stick pan. Some people use angle-grinders on new Lodge pans to recreate the effect, but after a few years of using metal spatulas most Lodge pans end up in the same place. The advice to "baby" cast iron by only using plastic cooking implements actually inhibits the development of a pan.

While I'm on the topic of babying cast iron, I also want to spread the word here that the traditional advice to never use soap on cast iron is poppycock. Some older soaps had lye, which could hurt seasoning. Newer soaps are just fine.
Capricorn51
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Capricorn51 »

We have a cast iron that was my wife's aunt's. We clean it only with coarse salt scrub and hot water, using paper towels. Never soap. That works.

I suspect that the OP will need to re-season since the protective layers have been abraded. Best pan in our house to cook steaks in.
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leeks
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by leeks »

Just re-season. Those things can be sandblasted and then re-seasoned. Absolutely no need to replace.
http://www.lodgemfg.com/use-and-care/ca ... -lets-cook
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fishandgolf
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by fishandgolf »

stimulacra wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:30 pm You can't ruin a cast iron skillet. I take pleasure in rehabbing them back to usable condition (You can get them for real cheap at estate sales).

Below is a great method using flaxseed oil.
https://www.thekitchn.com/i-seasoned-my ... ned-224612
OMG..........I just perused that above link for cast iron pan restoration........if I had a cast iron pan that needed restoration.........that pan would quickly become a cast-away cast iron pan......in the trash with it. I would definitely find other ways to cook my food...... :oops:
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leeks
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by leeks »

fishandgolf wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:03 pm
stimulacra wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:30 pm You can't ruin a cast iron skillet. I take pleasure in rehabbing them back to usable condition (You can get them for real cheap at estate sales).

Below is a great method using flaxseed oil.
https://www.thekitchn.com/i-seasoned-my ... ned-224612
OMG..........I just perused that above link for cast iron pan restoration........if I had a cast iron pan that needed restoration.........that pan would quickly become a cast-away cast iron pan......in the trash with it. I would definitely find other ways to cook my food...... :oops:
Do you mean the restoration looked too intensive? Check out the lodge link above instead, re-seasoning can be as simple as: scrub/wash, rub with canola oil, bake for 1 hour.
Beck49
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Beck49 »

The OP really asks two questions. One can the pan be saved. Others have assured him that yes it can. Two, was the question of how to clean a cast iron pan. While all of the suggestions may work well, there is nothing easier than a chain mail scrubber. We use it on old pans and a new pans. Just run the pan under hot water, scrub it with chain mail (see The Ringer at Amazon as an example), dry with paper towel. Takes about 45 seconds. Then rub on small amount of oil with dry paper towel, when the pan is warm. It doesn't take much warmth for to be reseasoned. Never fails. Good luck.
megabad
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by megabad »

What the heck is this reseasoning? Where I am from, you just cook bacon in it once or twice and rub the grease around. Grandma used to keep a little bit of grease in a jar so we could grease the pan up when we werent cooking bacon (home made crisco). But don't strip the grease folks, it kills the flavor of the pan. Gosh what are you folks cooking in this thing that sticks so bad that have to scrub the crud out of it. Nothing sticks to my pan.
Regattamom
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Regattamom »

megabad wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:48 pm What the heck is this reseasoning? Where I am from, you just cook bacon in it once or twice and rub the grease around. Grandma used to keep a little bit of grease in a jar so we could grease the pan up when we werent cooking bacon (home made crisco). But don't strip the grease folks, it kills the flavor of the pan. Gosh what are you folks cooking in this thing that sticks so bad that have to scrub the crud out of it. Nothing sticks to my pan.
+1
I keep bacon grease for my pan and I don't ever scrub or use hot water. No problems.
bryanm
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by bryanm »

Beck49 wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:40 pm Two, was the question of how to clean a cast iron pan. While all of the suggestions may work well, there is nothing easier than a chain mail scrubber.
I have a chain mail scrubber. It works. Soap, water, and my normal scrub brush works better (and it's easier, too, since I'm already cleaning dishes).
megabad wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:48 pm What the heck is this reseasoning? Where I am from, you just cook bacon in it once or twice and rub the grease around. Grandma used to keep a little bit of grease in a jar so we could grease the pan up when we werent cooking bacon (home made crisco). But don't strip the grease folks, it kills the flavor of the pan. Gosh what are you folks cooking in this thing that sticks so bad that have to scrub the crud out of it. Nothing sticks to my pan.
If you want everything to taste like bacon, then sure, cooking in bacon grease works great. The "reseasoning" everyone is talking about is creating a layer of polymerized fat (mixed with carbon and some other things) that creates a natural non-stick surface without making food greasy. Here's the neat science.
megabad
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by megabad »

bryanm wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:00 pm
megabad wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:48 pm What the heck is this reseasoning? Where I am from, you just cook bacon in it once or twice and rub the grease around. Grandma used to keep a little bit of grease in a jar so we could grease the pan up when we werent cooking bacon (home made crisco). But don't strip the grease folks, it kills the flavor of the pan. Gosh what are you folks cooking in this thing that sticks so bad that have to scrub the crud out of it. Nothing sticks to my pan.
If you want everything to taste like bacon, then sure, cooking in bacon grease works great. The "reseasoning" everyone is talking about is creating a layer of polymerized fat (mixed with carbon and some other things) that creates a natural non-stick surface without making food greasy. Here's the neat science.
True everything does taste a little like bacon...and chicken, and lamb, and potatoes and pancakes, and eggs and vegetables and cornbread, but I always thought that was the point. Everybody's pan has a little different flavor.

You ever tasted soybean oil/vegetable oil?...fyi it isn't good. Plus I am allergic to soy. Not sure I get why anyone would want food to taste more like oil than bacon and meat and all that other good stuff. Let me just say that I am not coating the pan in 1 inch of bacon grease, I just dab a little bit in there and rub it around. When I actually cook bacon, I just wipe the pan with a sponge and sort of pour it into a little jar (so I can use it later).
stimulacra
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by stimulacra »

megabad wrote: Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:27 am
bryanm wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:00 pm
megabad wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:48 pm What the heck is this reseasoning? Where I am from, you just cook bacon in it once or twice and rub the grease around. Grandma used to keep a little bit of grease in a jar so we could grease the pan up when we werent cooking bacon (home made crisco). But don't strip the grease folks, it kills the flavor of the pan. Gosh what are you folks cooking in this thing that sticks so bad that have to scrub the crud out of it. Nothing sticks to my pan.
If you want everything to taste like bacon, then sure, cooking in bacon grease works great. The "reseasoning" everyone is talking about is creating a layer of polymerized fat (mixed with carbon and some other things) that creates a natural non-stick surface without making food greasy. Here's the neat science.
True everything does taste a little like bacon...and chicken, and lamb, and potatoes and pancakes, and eggs and vegetables and cornbread, but I always thought that was the point. Everybody's pan has a little different flavor.

You ever tasted soybean oil/vegetable oil?...fyi it isn't good. Plus I am allergic to soy. Not sure I get why anyone would want food to taste more like oil than bacon and meat and all that other good stuff. Let me just say that I am not coating the pan in 1 inch of bacon grease, I just dab a little bit in there and rub it around. When I actually cook bacon, I just wipe the pan with a sponge and sort of pour it into a little jar (so I can use it later).
With proper seasoning (where the oil polymerizes) you can clean it pretty well without harsh soaps and not taste any residual flavors.

I do enjoy using bacon fat to coat the pans between sessions. Which sizes do you use?
michaeljc70
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by michaeljc70 »

I second the chainmail scrubbers for cleaning. They work better than a plastic brush. I add some kosher salt if the pan is really bad. I never use soap. I always throw the skillet on a burner for 30 seconds to dry it. I rarely oil them as they really don't need it after properly seasoning them.

As others said, the only way I know of to really ruin a cast iron skillet is to crack it which isn't easy to do.
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KSOC
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by KSOC »

I have 7 pieces of cast iron. Seldom do I need to do more than use a nylon brush. Mostly just wipe out with a paper towel. If I do need further cleaning, I keep a few Chore Boy scrubbing cloths on hand. Beyond that, bring some water to a boil in the pan & use a metal spatula to loosen what ever, then repeat above. Rinse, put back on warm stove. When dry, season with coconut oil (not flavored) or bacon grease. I keep bacon grease in a jar to flavor other foods. Like others have said, it really isn't difficult. Nothing better than cast iron for cooking just about everything. There is a learning curve, but it's not as intimidating as folks make you think. But do remember to pre-heat the pan before putting food in it. That's a sure way to get foods to stick.
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lthenderson
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by lthenderson »

stimulacra wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:30 pm You can't ruin a cast iron skillet. I take pleasure in rehabbing them back to usable condition (You can get them for real cheap at estate sales).
+1

I don't think I've ever bought one new or paid more than a dollar for it. I have a stack of them.
Glockenspiel
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Glockenspiel »

Cast iron will last your entire lineage all of their lifetimes. Buying a cast iron skillet is a one-time purchase. You can not ruin one. Just re-season it.
Luke Duke
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Luke Duke »

CWhea1775 wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:33 pm So here is a rather astounding trick that I have seen done with cast iron skillets myself. It will be the "nuclear option", so only use when you are about to toss the skillet out;

WARNING: This could be both dangerous and also cause cracking if the skillet is flawed. It does work on old, crusty, rusty skillets though.

Go camping or some other place where you can build a good fire. Use hardwood or other fuel that can really develop some coals. Build a fire as hot as you can get, and get a bed of coals that is really red hot and big enough to completely bury the skillet. Put the skillet in the fire, cover with coals, and keep the fire going until the skillet is red hot - and I mean glowing, cherry red.

Let the fire die down - at least till the next day, Carefully remove the skillet - it may still be hot!!! Once cooled down - all traces of rust and crust can be just brushed away - they will be ash.

You will have an essentially brand new skillet, which will need to be re-seasoned before use.
Or save yourself all of the trouble and put it in the oven on the self-cleaning cycle.
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David Jay
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by David Jay »

leeks wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:59 pm Just re-season. Those things can be sandblasted and then re-seasoned. Absolutely no need to replace.
http://www.lodgemfg.com/use-and-care/ca ... -lets-cook
Lodge is a major manufacturer of cast iron cookware, I would trust their recommendation.
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bltkmt
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by bltkmt »

Beck49 wrote: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:40 pm The OP really asks two questions. One can the pan be saved. Others have assured him that yes it can. Two, was the question of how to clean a cast iron pan. While all of the suggestions may work well, there is nothing easier than a chain mail scrubber. We use it on old pans and a new pans. Just run the pan under hot water, scrub it with chain mail (see The Ringer at Amazon as an example), dry with paper towel. Takes about 45 seconds. Then rub on small amount of oil with dry paper towel, when the pan is warm. It doesn't take much warmth for to be reseasoned. Never fails. Good luck.
This is what I have used on my pans for years. The chain mail thing can dislodge any stuck on stuff, then re-heat the pan, spread a little oil on it and you are good to go.
Luke Duke
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Luke Duke »

These work well for difficult to clean pans.

http://www.amazon.com/Amagabeli-Stainle ... 01A51S9Y2/
megabad
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by megabad »

stimulacra wrote: Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:40 am Which sizes do you use?
Well judging roughly, it looks like 9 or 10" skillet for my daily user. I also have an almost unusued 12" Lodge that is pretty new. It was a gift, I don't use it because 1) it is new (no character) and 2) I can't flip a pancake in it because it is so heavy. Maybe that makes me sound wimpy but I am not a small person and that 12" pan is too much for one wrist.
ralph124cf
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by ralph124cf »

I recently bought a new 14" Cabella's cast iron pan. I had read reviews about the rough casting being a problem, but I also read that some people sanded these down with good results.

I was appalled at how rough the cooking surface was. I could see the roughness, and snags caught at my skin when I dragged my fingers across the cooking surface.

I used a 5" random orbit sander to cut down the rough spots with 100 grit and then 150 grit sand paper. I then used wet or dry 220 and 400 wet or dry pads with a little oil to smooth the finish.

I washed the pan well with soap and hot water, and then seasoned in the oven per manufacturers directions.

Turned out perfect.

Ralph
stimulacra
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by stimulacra »

megabad wrote: Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:17 am
stimulacra wrote: Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:40 am Which sizes do you use?
Well judging roughly, it looks like 9 or 10" skillet for my daily user. I also have an almost unusued 12" Lodge that is pretty new. It was a gift, I don't use it because 1) it is new (no character) and 2) I can't flip a pancake in it because it is so heavy. Maybe that makes me sound wimpy but I am not a small person and that 12" pan is too much for one wrist.

12" or larger are perfect for 2 full sized steaks (T-bones, ribeye, strip). Also I like using them for oven roasting veggies.
Random Poster
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by Random Poster »

megabad wrote: Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:17 am . . . I can't flip a pancake in it because it is so heavy. Maybe that makes me sound wimpy but I am not a small person and that 12" pan is too much for one wrist.
Ever heard of a pancake flipper?
megabad
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by megabad »

stimulacra wrote: Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:08 pm 12" or larger are perfect for 2 full sized steaks (T-bones, ribeye, strip). Also I like using them for oven roasting veggies.
Makes sense, mine sometimes gets a little crowded, but I usually just get a thicker cut and everything seems to fit.

Random Poster wrote: Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:18 pm Ever heard of a pancake flipper?
Well admittedly, I don't have a lot of experience with kitchen gadgets so I haven't heard of it but interesting. Old habits die hard though and I really like to pan flip.

Side note on kitchen gadgets, I was over at a friends house several months ago helping in the kitchen. She said something like "grab some herbs and cut them up with the chopper". I grabbed a knife and asked her if this was "the chopper". She was not amused. I am not sure if I was joking or not.
FinancialRookie
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by FinancialRookie »

Just cook some bacon in it and smear the grease around. Good to go :wink:
aristotelian
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Re: Cleaning cast iron skillet

Post by aristotelian »

You are correct, wife is wrong. However, you might want to be more diplomatic in how you approach the issue.
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