What is the secret to Cast Iron fry pans?

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ace441, Mar 30, 6:38am
I am at my wits end, here is my long and sordid saga - over the past 20 years I have purchased Teflon, Circulon, Scan Pan etc. etc. and they have all let me down. The non-stick coatings wear off after a year or two. I have tried the 'plain' scan pan as well but that was a disaster - everything stuck to it. For the last couple of years I have just been buying the cheap non-stick pans from the supermarket and in all honesty they last just as long as the ones 10 times the price. I decided to give cast iron a go and purchased a couple. I spent alot of time researching care and use. I spent hours seasoning them with specially bought flax oil and still everything stuck to them. I have just purchased an enamel cast iron pan in the Briscoes sale - was $130 but has 60% off. I again followed the instructions - rinsed in warm water, wiped with vege oil and gradually heated to a med. temp, wiping the excess oil and leaving for 4 minutes on the heat. I then proceeded to cook some bacon whick stuck like flies on sh*t and made the cream enamel go all black. I followed the instructions to remove the burnt on gunk - boil water and vinegar then rinse in warn soapy water - and while this got the worst of it off there are still black speckles in places. What am I doing wrong! I am so over fry pans !

scooby614, Mar 30, 6:41am
Wow, sorry I don't have the answer for you but boy I applaud your effort!

pgta, Mar 30, 6:44am
I prefer stainless steel - it still sort of sticks but at least it is easy to clean.

lilyfield, Mar 30, 7:06am
I have the solution-- stop frying stuff, its no good for you anyway

cookessentials, Mar 30, 7:06am
When you are cooking with them, what sort of temp are you using and are you taking meat straight from the fridge and cooking it! If you purchased an Infinite circulon, there is now way they will lose the coating, they are hard anodised. Are you aware that they have a lifetime guarantee!
I still cannot understand why people buy cookware from Briscoes. Non stick pans are not formulated for cooking on high heat. They are for a medium to low heat only. A good cast iron pan will build up a layer of oil over time. Never wash them in soapy water, just hot water and your ordinary nylon scrubby brush. When cooking any meat, in any pan, it needs to be room temp. The minute you throw an ice cold piece of meat into a hot pan, you are going to get it sticking.

wendalls, Mar 30, 7:11am
yes i would be interested in the magic answers too! i cant use my cast iron either.I just bought a scanpan pot but the list of donts is quite annoying. cant heat it up quickly, cant use high heat. defeats the purpose if you want to sear something then slow cook it! I was told it was the best quality and would last longer than my analon which buckled. yes i have heard people saying you just need to know how to use stainlesssteel . info please!

punkinthefirst, Mar 30, 7:24am
Just buy a heavyweight PLAIN cast iron pan from wherever you like, and season it properly before you use it. Enamel (even on cast iron) is going to discolour when you cook in it at a higher heat.
I've had 46 years(and counting) out of my old cast iron frying pans. I also regularly use my Grandmother'sflat skillet, gem iron and waffle iron, all of which were made for her by my grandfather when they were newly married about 100 years ago.They're all still as good as new, and cook food beautifully.

angel404, Mar 30, 7:28am
I personally an electric stainless frying pan and I love it to bits. I have used a cast iron frying pan before and never had any problems. Like cooks said you dont wash them with soapy water ever. Excuse my ignorance but how can a cast iron frying pan be made from enamel! Arent they 2 different metals!

wendalls, Mar 30, 7:50am
Oops.I bought circulon not scanpan.

uli, Mar 30, 8:13am
I use steel fry pans and have never anything stick to them.

Steel and cast iron is very different. Steel is what woks are made of.

luvwine, Mar 30, 8:24am
Love cast iron will never buy non stick teflon type again.
Don't bother with enamel coating, it does work but will dis colour and deteriorate.make sure you heat up to temp before cooking, on high can be up to ten minutes, then turn down to required temp. oil the steaknot the pan if a ribbed style. To clean just put in sink and fill with water while still warm, then scrubs up easily with dish brush after dinner( ie 15-30 minutes).
NEVER use soap, just hot water, otherwise you'll end up with no non stick properties

cookessentials, Mar 30, 8:29am
woks are made of carbon steel and need to be seasoned as do cast iron pans. Never had a problem witht the Infinite Circulon pans and I have three different ones. I also use Lodge cast iron which is a pre-seasoned cast iron and I use enamel cast iron ( as in a casserole) If you have had an Analon or an Infinite Circulon, return them, they have a lifetime warranty. As fora stainless steel pan, you want something with a heavy encapsulated base. Angel404 an enamelled cast iron pan is enamelled on the outside of the pan, often used in the casseroles such as le Crueset etc. If you are taking cold meat out of the fridge and putting it in a hot pan, you are going to get it sticking. You need to have your meat at room temp.
With the Infinite Circulon ( and like ANY pan) you don't whack them straight from cold on to a hot element, this causes thermal shock, it has nothing to do with them just being Circulon. If you do that to a cast iron pan, you will also have problems. One reason why the likes of Briscoes shouldn't be selling cookware as they have no idea about how to educate their customers on it's use.

cookessentials, Mar 30, 8:38am
A good quality pan ( and we are not talking Scanpan) you do not need to have it on a high heat for it to do an excellent job of searing meat. If it has a prooper encapsulated base, it has very even heat distribution over the entire bottom surface of the pan. It will reach the correct temperature quickly and will retain the heat. Any of the excellent quality pans such as the German Henckels or WMF will give you this. Go to a speiclaty cookware retailer and talk to someone who knows what they are talking about, knows the prooducts and can give you unbiased advice before you decide which is best for you.

elliehen, Mar 30, 8:50am
One previous poster's opinion.

wendalls, Mar 30, 5:50pm
Steel and cast iron is very different. Steel is what woks are made of.[/quote]
Yep. Know they are different.I was mentioning them both as equipment I hadn't got the knack of using. Probably I don't use enough oil! Do you use lots!
Regarding cast iron. Last time I used mine the food turned black from the pan. I had been wiping it out with a paper towel instead of washing. Obviously wasn't clean enough lol! Perhaps I need to season it better.
also bought a tefal cooks pan and am trying not to overheat that. will try searing at medium heat. Thanks people.

lythande1, Mar 30, 7:05pm
Non-stick pans have nasty coatings on them. Avoid.
You don't need special oils, any oil - in fact I wouldn't use oil at all, it goes rancid. Use fat.
Just wipe it over with a paper towel, you don't want masses of it, just a smear.
It's too keep it from rusting.

As for enamel, you don't cook on a very high heat with them.
Personally I would be grilling bacon anyway, it gives a much better result.
I have an enamel pan too, I did nothing at all to it before using. I have fried in it, but not super hot. Move the food just after you put it in, if you leave it, it will stick.it's enamel, not magic.
Move it a bit first, it's fine.
Yes, it can discolour after a while, don't worry about it.
Baking soda helps a bit.
It sounds to me you had it too hot and didn't move the food - note wok cooking, they don't let it sit, they move it around all the time. See!

cookessentials, Mar 30, 7:40pm
You never heat up any cast iron pan from cold on a high heat.

cookessentials, Mar 30, 7:42pm
you are using the wrong oil if it goes rancid.you do not use "any oil"

sossie1, Mar 30, 7:43pm
I wouldn't be without my cast iron pan.
Be patient, and keep using it, keep seasoning it

beaker59, Mar 30, 9:55pm
These enamelled cast Iron pans seem to be a total waste of time all the disadvantages of black cast iron and none of the advantages.

Get plain black cast iron and after a short breaking in period enjoy non stick cooking in a pan that's easy to use can be heated on high and taken up to smoking hot doesn't need any special treatment but use.

The enamel ones seem to be grossly expensive too this is definitely not a case of you get what you pay for.

uli, Mar 30, 10:05pm
Yep. Know they are different.I was mentioning them both as equipment I hadn't got the knack of using. Probably I don't use enough oil! Do you use lots![/quote]

I only use steel as it is easier to keep non-stick than cast iron which is very porous. So you need indeed more oil to "season" cast iron than you do with steel. And it will get rancid if you keep the pan for any length of time without using it.

Both my wok and my steel fry pans are washed immediately after use (while the people come to the table) under very hot water with a coarse sponge, then dried immediately and set onto the still hot burner to dry out completely.

I do not oil the pans after that as any oil (contrary to popular belief) is going rancid over time. I do use my pans frequently so they do not rust in between - if yours do then give them another quick wipe under very hot water and then dry and oil just BEFORE cooking the next time. Make sure the pan is very hot before adding any ingredients.

Remember that acid food will react with the steel or cast iron - so if you want to use wine or tomatoes and simmer slowly then steel or iron is not the pot to use - use stainless instead.

You can add wine or tomatoes at the very last moment and then get the cooked food out of the wok or steel pan and into a serving dish while you immediately wash it under hot water.

Hope that helps.

jaybee6, Mar 30, 11:37pm
Cast iron is the only way to cook steak. It has to be red hot and the steak will cook beautifully. Love cooking steak.When washing these pans wash normally rinse well in clear hot water put back onto hot element to dry then re oil for next use. I then put mine in a plastic bag tie top and store in hot water cupboard. No prob at all. I have four of these heavy cast iron pans. I also use one out on the bbq they are magic.

buzzy110, Mar 30, 11:53pm
I have cast iron, s/s and spun steel (same as woks) frying pans. Why! I have no idea. However each one works well on my electric stove and my camping gas cooker. None of them works at all on the "can't get down to a low enough temperature" kitchen gas stove/cooker or useless ceramic topped stoves.

It has become all the rage these days to not use fat when frying which is really stupid. I heat mine with a dob of fat, with the element on about 3/4s then lower the temperature to half, and even less. They cook fine at that temperature. I always start with a fine layer of some sort of fat cooking medium. Nothing sticks, ever, unless the pan is too hot.

In fact, I only use the high temperature when I have a lot of liquid to heat in a pot.

uli, Mar 30, 11:56pm
Sorry to say jaybee6- I cook a very nice steak in both a steel fry pan or a stainless fry pan - both can be very hot and nothing sticks to it. Then again I also cook an exceptionally good steak on a "traditional" BBQ - you know the "real" item with charcoal and a grill on top :)

If you can only do it in cast iron pan - then go on with it - it would be sad to waste a good piece of meat.

carter19, Mar 31, 6:51am
Rachael Ray had a great suggestion for seasoning a pan. Smother with oil and turn it upside down in your oven dish and put in the oven for an hour. I found this worked very well. I just rinse with water , then stick it back on the element to dry before putting it back in the draw

Also, if you try to turn meat before it is browned, it will stick