I inherited my mother's cast iron skillet and I'm afraid I have ruined it. I hope someone can help me fix it. I baked a pineapple upside down cake in it and after I cleaned it (or so I thought) with oil I put it away. I got it back out tonight and there is a gummy substance that will not come off. I'm assuming crystallized brown sugar.
I've tried scrubbing it with hot water and salt and I even took a razor blade to it thinking I could scrape it off. I am going to be heart broken if I have ruined the skillet.
Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
By dobiemama from Fort Worth, TX
You have not ruined it. Boil some water in it to soften the gunk, then use a brillo pad or a copper scrubbie and get it good and clean. Dry it well, in a low oven, and let it cool. When you are sure it is clean, re-season it by rubbing it well with a good layer of shortening, and bake it at 350 for an hour. (12/29/2009)
I have used cast iron for 30 years. The important thing, regardless of what you hear, is not the way you clean them but the way you season them. Whether you use soap or not, you should never soak them and you should dry them right away. Then season with shortening, crisco is best. I do not cook with it. I do not like oil on the skillets. Another help is to use them as often as you can. Not using them causes them to rust. (12/30/2009)
I was going to say the same basic thing that Jilson said. To be honest it is hard to totally ruin a cast iron cooking utensil, unless you crack it. Just do the cleaning, and then re-season it, as described. I have cast iron that had been my late Mother-in-laws, and some that had been my grand-mothers', but it never loses it's quality if kept cured, and greased up. Just enjoy it, and use it with pride. You can't find its equal in the stores, when you think of the many meals it has cooked, or as with one I have, the many pans of cornbread it has turned out. (12/30/2009)
My sister-in-law had these very dirty(caked on food) cast iron pans and gave them to us because she had tried everything to clean them. My husband put them into the oven and "burnt' the food off. After several hours (on med.) turn the oven off when the pans are almost red. When cooled off take them out and wipe out. Food, dirt etc. comes right out. Condition the pan as others have said. We put oil and spread it around the pan. Put on stove to "cure". Put away. We have done this for years and they do not stick. We also wash them in hot water and detergent. and then re-condition them every time. (12/30/2009)
That sticky residue might not be sugar. It could very well be PAM (or some other brand aerosol spray). Don't ever use spray as the oil coating before cooking with cast iron, use as mentioned previously (Crisco). (12/30/2009)
There is tons of advice, not all of it the same, and some conflicting - use Pam, never use Pam; use soap, never use soap - and so on. The bottom line is - it is next to impossible to ruin a cast iron pan. Any gunk you have on them can be burnt off in a self-cleaning oven, or as described in several other posts, or can be scraped off with an SOS or copper wire scrubbie. After you get the thing clean, you season it. Several ways to do that apparently, as you can see from the archives.
The best thing to do is to use it all the time, and just rinse out with hot water. (12/30/2009)
As I've posted before, I ruined my cast iron skillet that I had for years, when I tried to clean it in my self cleaning oven. It did come out nice and clean but within a few days of using it, a big piece on the left side broke off. I have another, that is larger that I bought on the Internet but it has never been as good as my original. What I don't understand with this one is that it has never developed a smooth surface. The bottom is still very rough and I have been using it for at least 10 to 15 years! The only place I see them at stores now are at Dick's sporting goods and they all seem to have a rough cooking surface. When can I buy a new one that will have and/or at least develop a smooth satiny cooking surface? (12/30/2009)
You can use salt to scrub out the sticky stuff. Best thing to do, go to Lodge Logic. com, they make the most durable cast iron that you can get right now (and a long time ago), the website tells you how to revive long since "dead" skillets. I know people have found "dead" ones at garage sales, rust and all and brought them back to life. They are a little more maintenance but once you get the seasoning set, it's old hat and you'll get a nonstick surface that can be heated to HIGH heats and won't leech crud into your food! (12/30/2009)
If your cast iron pan is all cast iron, with no handles made of other materials, you can use the old Scottish method of putting the pan directly on to an open fire to burn the dirt off. (01/01/2010)
By Julia Walton
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