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Iron Cookware

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

I got a new Chef's catalog the other day and one of the fry pans has intrigued me.

http://www.debuyer.com/product.php?id=711&cat=60&background=bleu1

What's the difference between an iron fry pan and a cast iron skillet? Can I do the same thing, sear meats and veggies, in a cast iron skillet?

Be careful following that link, the de Buyer site is VERY tempting.

Thanks for helping me understand this.

Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I have no idea about the science or w'ever behind using 99% iron vs cast or 'wok;-type steel, or stainless for that matter.

But pure iron will certainly have a tolerance for very high temperatures. It might also be easily dented?

I dunno.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

From the look of the photo, the iron fry pan has somekind of coating.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks you two. honeybee, the site states: Guaranteed without any coating

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

MaryMcP - you are correct, but the photo doesn't look anything like the traditional cast iron skillets - it looks as though the pan has a shiny surface.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Yes I know. That's why I'm asking. It seems to be 'iron', but not 'cast iron'. I'm with the Texan, not sure about the scientific atttributes. I bought a heavy steel (iron?) round flat pan at the flea market a couple of years ago. It's great for pancakes, french toast, grill cheese sandwiches but it had (notice had) a coating that is now gone and it's become hard to cook on, everything sticks. I think I paid 5$ for it whereas the one at de Buyer is about $90.

We're not getting much traffic here because of the holiday, maybe someone with more knowledge of these things will pop in later and shed some light.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

That site does have some cool temptations but I'm saved. If the prices aren't listed, I know I can't afford it. lol

I will not claim to be knowledgable but it is in the way it is made. Cast is a poured iron. Cast iron has been known to crack under extreme heat or if dropped.

This type of steel would not be as heavy as cast but more durable. With the polished surface, it would be very easy to sear with.

A coarser surface on cast iron tends to let foods stick where the highly polished cast iron is less common and more desirable.

I feel this iron is similar to those used in restaurants and a far better surface for searing meats.

What I'd like to know is the difference between mineral steel and mineral B steel?

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks podster - the pan I'm looking at, the 10" fry pan, is about $90. I don't mind making an investment in good cookware. I've bought lots of teflon pans at $20 or so, they warp, get scratched and need to be replaced. I Googled your phrase "the difference between mineral steel and mineral B steel" and found these.....

Google tells all:

Here someone asked the same question-
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/733328

and here is a more scientific answer.....seems the grades have to do with hardness.
http://www.minerals.net/resource/property/Hardness.aspx

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Here's a great conversation about the de Buyer pans. Apparantly Cost Plus World Market sells them and will sometimes have a 50% off sale!!!

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/741895

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Formed sheet steel can be heat-treated in the oven with lard/oil/tallow (the way you do cast iron) to build up a good coating, but since it's less porous, the coating can be more fragile. I'd think it would take several treatments before you could sear in it without food sticking. JMO.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks for that tip Darius, I'll work on getting that flea market griddle seasoned.

Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Didn't Julia Child once get a chance to cook on a pure gold skillet?

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Yes, I believe that is true and she was impressed with its even heat capability but what a waste. Gold is so soft. Diamond is also a good heat conductor but silver and copper are the standard I believe. Based on this post, I was trying see the difference between silver and carbon steel but I'm out of my league! I did learn some intereting tidbits about shaving razors and knife blades though. ;-)

Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I'd say that deBuyer pan is very specifically LOW carbon but again, I'm not sure what feature they are trying to promote.

I know high carbon steel will rust more readily than 'pure' iron. But, from the site below, the melting point of 'pure' iron IS about 300degC higher than grey cast iron (1530C vs 1230C respectively) - so, if some chef is using an oxy-propane or oxy-nat.gas or some other boosted fire source for cooking, I guess he might need those xtra 300degsC !

some iron (Fe) alloys listed here;http://www.csudh.edu/oliver/chemdata/alloys.htm

Torrance, CA

I have 4 cast iron skillets a 12" with cast iron lid, two 10" and an 8".
The 8" and one 10" I bought during my batchelor days over 60 years ago. The other two were inherited rom my Mother, and would be at least 30 years older. Being a klutz, they have seen their share of mistreatment, including occasional overheating. No breaks or chips. And, when properly seasoned ( a simple task), nothing ever sticks, and you can use any utensil any old way without dmaging the "coating:. Also, used reasonalby properly, they are nebver washed! Just wiped lean with a sponge, cloth, or aper towel, and maybe rinsed with just water, NO SOAP!

Searing meat? There is no better way!!

Cooking a nice steak? Simply place it in a hot, DRY, cast iron skillet for a couple of minutes on a side: looks and tastes atr leat asws good a if it had been grilled. Run a finger dampened with a drop of liquid smoke over the raw meat first and it tastes like it had been charbroiled.

If you mess up and either wash it with soap or overheat it, destroying the seasoned surface, then simply put it in a self-cleaning oven, then rinse and dry it, wet a folded paper towel with oil and wipe it over all surfaces of the pan, then heat over medium flame until it just begins to smoke, and let it cool. Nothing will stick. As time goes by and more oil/fat/grease is cooked in it, the coating will sontinue to improve even more.

A beef stew made in a cast iron skillet (or pot) simply tastes better. As does most anything cooked with cast iron!

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

I've got a work-horse of a 12" cast iron skillet that goes from searing pork chops to baking a chocolate cake in no time flat; no stick, no mess, and my cake doesn't taste like pork chops! =) I dearly love my cast iron!!

I use a food-grade mineral oil to keep it seasoned.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I have 12" and 6" cast iron skillets and use them everyday.

Mexico City, Mexico

I own a deBuyer pan, its worth the investment if you love cast iron and want something similar. I treat it exactly like my cast iron as well... And try not to cry when my MIL scrubbed all the seasoning off - to clean it- " so it would be shiny again" :/

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!! < ='( **Snff!** Ooooh ouch! Bless her fuzzy heart, it's in the right place!

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

amxntransplant, do you not scrub the cookware at all? Just wipe with a damp paper towel? My cookware is brown around the top edges but I've been scrubbing with a non-soap type pad - like those dark green ones - to remove debris. I'm afraid I'm like your m-i-l, and want shiny. Is there a 12-step program? ;-)

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Mary, I NEVER scrub my cast iron cookware... If it starts to get a build-up of what looks like cooked-on detritus, I may occasionally take a metal spatula to scrape it off and then re-season it. I figure the high heat kills any possible pathogens.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

I'll try to stop..... :-

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I've been using cast iron skillets for many, many years.

One should never use soap on them. When they get a build-up, simply run very hot water into the pan and wipe dry with a paper towel. Sometimes you will need to reseason the pan, but mine get a thick enough coating, that this is rarely necessary.

I used to own a self cleaning oven, and once in awhile would put a cast iron skillet, (up-side-down) into the oven when set on "self clean". You WILL have to reseason the pan if you do this.

Here's a link for Lodge, with their recommended method of seasoning their products:

http://www.lodgemfg.com/useandcare/seasoned-cast-iron

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks HoneyBee, I don't use soap, but I do scrub it well with a non-soap scrub pad. I'll re-season and try to be good to my pans.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

One great thing about cast iron cookware - you can treat the with abandon, and they will still be usable once they have been reseasoned. :)

Hemet, CA(Zone 9b)

Amen!!

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

I actually, regularly, use my scrubbie sponge on my cast iron, and it's still in great shape. I make sure it's soap-free, of course, and I clean it while it's under straight hot running water, but it really only just gets "wiped", for the most part, with the scrubbie thingie. (and yes, I use the rough scrubbie side). The skillet is still a happy glowing black. :)

Mexico City, Mexico

Quote from MaryMcP :
amxntransplant, do you not scrub the cookware at all? Just wipe with a damp paper towel? My cookware is brown around the top edges but I've been scrubbing with a non-soap type pad - like those dark green ones - to remove debris. I'm afraid I'm like your m-i-l, and want shiny. Is there a 12-step program? ;-)


:) LOL. I do use a scrubber on it when necessary - the difference is she uses soap and steel wool. She literally scrubs the seasoning off. The one I own is the one referenced in the OP - iron cookware, a deBuyer pan. Is that what you have?

If I clean it while its hot, a spatula and hot water will get all debris off. I usually run my fingers over the cooking service (AFTER it has cooled from the sink water LOL) . And if it feels smooth and slick - again still with seasoning- then I dry it with a towel, through it on stove and re oil on low for a short time. If nit, a regular green scrubby like you described with hot water does the trick. ALSO I love to put the pan back on the stove and boil a couple inches of water in it if something boils, THEN use a spatula to scrape out burnt parts, but doesnt unseason it to the same extent as the steel wool/soap/MIL treatment ;)

When I have kept my MIL away from it for long enough it becomes brown on the entire inside of thepan. Then she washes it and its back to the silver color. Lol. I notice every time she washes it, it suddenly starts burning all the food and sticking like crazy. Wonder why? ;) (I know why, that was sarcasm!) She refuses to use the pan, thats partially why ;) that and its super heavy.

I clean my cast iron pans the same way, I noticed many people posted links and thoughts on that so I wont beat a dead horse.

eta: i dont use a spatula/hot water every time, just to clarify. Only when things have burnt - which is more often than normal because someone unseasons my pan for me ;) NORMAL cleanup includes nothing more than a wipe down with a papertowel.

This message was edited Jan 22, 2013 9:55 PM

Mexico City, Mexico

Quote from speediebean :
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!! < ='( **Snff!** Ooooh ouch! Bless her fuzzy heart, it's in the right place!


LOL too true. Cant be too upset about someone trying to help!

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

AMEN to that!! I've got this DH that loves to try to help in the kitchen... heh heh, when he does dishes, everything goes into the dishwasher except what he's learned over the years not to touch (giggle); all THAT stuff is left in a little pile for me. =) It makes me giggle every time he cleans up the kitchen, seeing my little "pile" there waiting for me. < =D

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Thanks for your detailed reply amxntransplant. Yes, deBuyer pans, I have two. Large (10 or 12") and the small crepe pan, mostly for eggs. I've been gentler on them since my post above and they are already browning up a bit. I try to clean them when they are still hot too, under hot running water, wipe with paper towel. Then warm the pan a bit and add some mineral oil.

Appreciate the feedback.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Hi there Mary. :) I also use a food-grade mineral oil in mine, I apply it with an old dish washing cloth. Then, I store the pan away **with** the (oiled) cloth laying flat across the bottom, then my "flattening lid" thingie on top of that. (It's just a round piece of metal with a knob on it, used to weigh down burgers and flatten them without using a spatula). It all sort of keeps dusty bits from getting into my freshly oiled skillet. :)

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

That's a good idea speedie but both of my skillets hang against the wall. And they usually don't sit long enough to get dusty! ;-) Cupboard space is limited in my kitchen, as is countertop space.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Oh goodness, I know just what you mean about cabinet space being at a premium, YIKES! You should see mine... then again, maybe not. ;) But, I actually use the drawer in the bottom of my range to store all my skillets, that helps a lot!

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

It too is full. :-|

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Ooops! I'm guessing you've put a lot of thought into it already. < ;P heeheehee

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

There are certain things in my kitchen my hubby is not allowed to "clean" - cast iron skillets, knives and steak knives in the wooden block. I also have a bread knife that I had to literally write "bread only" on the handle to keep him from using/cleaning it. I keep it in it's own drawer - it cost me an arm-and-a-leg way back in the 80's, goodness knows how much it would be to replace it now if I had to.

I also have stainless steel muffin pans, various pots, and cookie sheets that are off limits to hubby. I've told my daughter I will leave them to her in my Will.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Honeybee, Hmmmm, now you've got me wondering what else a bread knife could be used for. I've either got absolutely no imagination whatsoever, or I'm far to anal about my kitchen tools. ;)

How do you like your stainless steel muffin pans? Are they easy to clean? I've thought about getting either stainless steel ones or cast iron, can't make up my mind, but I'll be needing new ones really soon.

Oooooh, and my cookie sheets!! Those are practically stored in a sealed vault!! LOL! Nothing ever touches those but parchment paper. Period. =) (OK, and the pot holders too, heh heh).

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

speediebean - hubby thought the bread knife was fair game for anything that could be cut/sliced with a knife!

I use liquid soy lecithin to coat stainless steel muffin (and other pans.) I purchase mine from a local health food store. It will make any pan "non-stick" but it does tend to burn at high temperatures. It's particularly useful for glass bread pans. Fresh baked bread just falls out of the pan.

It's also available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Fearn-Nat-Foods-Liquid-Lecithin/dp/B00014DUSE

I have found cookie sheets useful to freeze chopped onions. Chop the onions, place in a single layer on cookie sheet. Place in freezer. When frozen, quickly transfer to freezer bags and place in freezer. When you need onions, it's easy to remove just the amount of frozen onions needed, and the rest can be placed back into the freezer for "next time."

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

honeybee, thanks for the tip on lecithin, I'll look for it in my local health food store.

Quoting:
Chop the onions, place in a single layer on cookie sheet. Place in freezer. When frozen, quickly transfer to freezer bags and place in freezer. When you need onions, it's easy to remove just the amount of frozen onions needed, and the rest can be placed back into the freezer for "next time."


I do something similar with the abundant pepper harvest in fall/early winter. But I don't leave the diced pieces separate, like I will do for individual roasted Hatch chilies, so I can grab just one if that's all I need. I stuff about 2 cups of the diced jalapeno's into a quart size freezer ziploc, smush out all the air and zip closed. Then I just break off a piece of what I need in the recipe. Works reallly well.

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