Carbon Steel Pans...My Exploration Is Over

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spaceconvoy

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I think the commonality is obsessing rather than using.

This thread was a funny read. I'd give up cooking entirely if the tools for doing it were so damn difficult as a simple pan in this thread.
Who said I obsessed over my pan? I agree with you in spirit though - if cooking were so difficult that it required a special old-timey pan to prevent things from sticking, I might give it up too. There's nothing simpler than stainless.

For anyone with the capacity for intellectual curiosity who's still interested in analyzing this, another theory I have is storage. I kept mine above the stove hung on a screw, laying as flat against the wall as possible given the handle. I also boiled water to make tea every morning, and I can imagine how those two things might create extra humid conditions inside of the pan.
 

coxhaus

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I just made pork chops in my debuyer pan. I have had this pan 4 or 5 years and I never have to re-season this pan any more. I store my pan in a wood cabinet if that makes a difference I have no idea.

IMG_0547.jpg
 
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Noodle

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Jacques Pepin on pans. At the 2 min. mark you get his hit on carbon steel. Pretty much confirms many people’s experience. Despite this, as a side note, I just received a Darto steel pan and will be soon seeing what all the carbon fuss is about—my first pan of this type, for better or worse. Just always wanted to try it. Looking forward to issuing my own complaints soon…

 

coxhaus

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Jacques Pepin on pans. At the 2 min. mark you get his hit on carbon steel. Pretty much confirms many people’s experience. Despite this, as a side note, I just received a Darto steel pan and will be soon seeing what all the carbon fuss is about—my first pan of this type, for better or worse. Just always wanted to try it. Looking forward to issuing my own complaints soon…

I have some of my mom's old carbon steel pans from the 1970s that don't have sticking issues. One of them is a crepe pan which I only use occasionally with no sticking or re-seasoning issues. It just works. It was used heavily when my mom owned it. So, my idea is the carbon steel pan needs to be used a lot to get good but it does not need to be used all the time.

By the way I am having fun using my new All-Clad copper core pans so I have slowed down on my carbon steel use. I never owned a stainless fry pan until just recently. I always use carbon steel and cast iron. I noticed over the years I never really cooked with tomatoes other than a pot which has limited me. I am having fun cooking Italian food in my stainless steel. Will I give up my other pans, no way.
 
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ModRQC

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Who said I obsessed over my pan? I agree with you in spirit though - if cooking were so difficult that it required a special old-timey pan to prevent things from sticking, I might give it up too. There's nothing simpler than stainless.

For anyone with the capacity for intellectual curiosity who's still interested in analyzing this, another theory I have is storage. I kept mine above the stove hung on a screw, laying as flat against the wall as possible given the handle. I also boiled water to make tea every morning, and I can imagine how those two things might create extra humid conditions inside of the pan.
Didn’t say no such thing. Just the formulation of this thread. What you do or don’t do isn’t of my concern. I thought your resume comment was the most interesting. Mine is the next step.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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Didn’t say no such thing. Just the formulation of this thread. What you do or don’t do isn’t of my concern. I thought your resume comment was the most interesting. Mine is the next step.
I can only speak for myself, but it wasn't all terrible and even in the frustrations I was having fun. I got a lot of good performance out of the pans, I just never got them to that really black and glassy state long term. If it wasn't fun, I would've abandoned them long ago. It was a challenge and something new to explore and a problem to attempt to solve. And, again, for sure I had a lot of very good cooking experiences with them.

This thread was borne in frustration but nothing significant. It was just me saying, I'm not going to keep trying to get these pans to perform in the way that I'd hoped they would. It was also to let others know that if they're having some issues they aren't alone. When you're trying to make these pans work everything you read and watch tells you,"...you just need to..." or "...the secret is..." or "My pans work great! I don't understand what people are doing wrong..."
 
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aaoueee

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FWIW, I've used the method starting at minute 3:56 of this video to season several new de Buyer pans and have been happy with the results:

 

M1k3

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1. Get pan hot to see color change in the metal
2. Thin oil coat
3. Polymerize
4. Repeat 2 and 3 if necessary

EDIT: Don't overthink it. And wash the pan first. Just use it. Heat, +oil, add ingredients.
 
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Brian Weekley

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EDIT: Don't overthink it. And wash the pan first. Just use it. Heat, +oil, add ingredients.
+1 to this.

The only thing I DONT use my carbon pans for is sugar cured bacon. The best seasoning process I found was potato skins and salt in hot oil. Even that was just too much work for me. Washem and usem! The seasoning will come with use and time.

Don’t like them? Fine … but you’re not cool. Enjoy your Shun’s too. (Haha)
 

HumbleHomeCook

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How do you polymerize ?
Polymerization occurs when the chosen oil reaches a temperature right around it's smoke point. That's one reason why your oil choice is important. Too low and you'll just end up burning it off during the seasoning process or when cooking and too high and you might not be able to get it hot enough to actually polymerize. And by knowing the smoke point of your oil, you'll know what temp you're shooting for.
 

Jeff

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What issues does flaxseed cause?

I went through “the flaxseed phase” with some of my cast iron. (I collect vintage cast iron and have 200+ pieces)

Supposedly, flaxseed oil has the lowest smoke point so it carbonizes at lower temps. Supposedly, that provides “better” seasoning.

My experience is that seasoning w/ flaxseed, while “pretty” is not durable. It flakes off during use. I giess because it carbonizes & bonds at such a relatively low temperature.

All the other comments about it going rancid are accurate.

There are many commercial “seasoning compounds” which by most accounts work well.

Personally … LARD, SOLID CRISCO, or BACON FAT are my go to choices.

IMHO …. You cant beat bacon fat!!!!

HINT: If you are fortunate enough to have a pellet smoker it is a great way to season carbon steel or cast iron.
 

Jeff

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With the exception of my Dutch oven, I've largely been using the carbon in place of the cast.
I am starting to ho that way as well. Higher heat shorter cook = Choose CS.

CS much better at high temp because it has a much more rapid/efficient thru put of thermal energy whereas CI has a higher ability to store and release thermal energy. That was probably much more important then stoves/ovens were not as many BTUs or able to hold temp as well as they do today.
 

Ruso

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I have 3 de buyer carbon pans and I do not pretend that they are as non-stick as non-stick pans. I use 2 of them when high heat is required and the other one is dedicated crepe pan.
For most mid to mid-low temp cooking nonstick pan it is.

I seasoned them in oven a while ago and no re-seasoning is needed so far.
 

tcmx3

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the one carbon steel pan I continue to use is my crepe pan, and that one I not treated well and of every Matfer Ive ever owned it by far has had the least trouble lol.
 

KitchenCommander

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I don't have any stainless pots or pans at all. It was not something I have ever tried. I will need to look for an All-Clad D3 to try out in a sauce pan for tomato sauces or other high liquid applications. I typically use a teflon pan for that these days. I've seen some All-Clad cookware at TJ-Maxx at nice discounts. I've bought a few Caphalon Teflon pans as they seem to be one of the best Teflon brands I have tried.

Just brought back 4 more pieces of cast iron from a giant flea market in NE Texas to add to my collection. Plan to use every one of them to build the seasoning. I also do the oven bake seasoning method on my iron with great results. Now that I have a familiarity with cast iron cooking, I have been very pleased with the performance. All vintage stuff that is glassy smooth and takes a nice seasoning layer that builds into a very nice cooking experience. Primary disadvantage to me is weight (larger pans) and warm up time/responsiveness.

I see threads of people spending hours and hours thinning and refinishing a knife that was brand new and cost over $400. I don't feel too bad fiddling with a $40 carbon steel pan and trying to figure out how to best use it to it's potential. Even if it takes a little more work to get it to hold a seasoning compared to others. I do hope that eventually it will hold a stable seasoning. If not, my investment is small.

If we all wanted no-maintenance cooking, we would all buy Teflon pans and Soft Stainless knives, but there is enjoyment in babying (or not) a high maintenance product for that little extra performance.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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I don't have any stainless pots or pans at all. It was not something I have ever tried. I will need to look for an All-Clad D3 to try out in a sauce pan for tomato sauces or other high liquid applications. I typically use a teflon pan for that these days. I've seen some All-Clad cookware at TJ-Maxx at nice discounts. I've bought a few Caphalon Teflon pans as they seem to be one of the best Teflon brands I have tried.

Just brought back 4 more pieces of cast iron from a giant flea market in NE Texas to add to my collection. Plan to use every one of them to build the seasoning. I also do the oven bake seasoning method on my iron with great results. Now that I have a familiarity with cast iron cooking, I have been very pleased with the performance. All vintage stuff that is glassy smooth and takes a nice seasoning layer that builds into a very nice cooking experience. Primary disadvantage to me is weight (larger pans) and warm up time/responsiveness.

I see threads of people spending hours and hours thinning and refinishing a knife that was brand new and cost over $400. I don't feel too bad fiddling with a $40 carbon steel pan and trying to figure out how to best use it to it's potential. Even if it takes a little more work to get it to hold a seasoning compared to others. I do hope that eventually it will hold a stable seasoning. If not, my investment is small.

If we all wanted no-maintenance cooking, we would all buy Teflon pans and Soft Stainless knives, but there is enjoyment in babying (or not) a high maintenance product for that little extra performance.
I use my stainless steel a LOT. I'm partial to Made In but that's just personal preference. One very nice aspect of stainless for sauce pans is how much easier it is to see in them vs. that black background. I freaking love my 3.5qt saucier. :) I also really like establishing a fond for nice pan sauces and stainless is awesome for that.

My wife was rocking two of our carbon pans last night. Like I said, they aren't going anywhere, I'm just done trying to perfect them. They'll just need a little more oil/fat and off we go.
 

KitchenCommander

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I see Made In adds everywhere. Their heavy marketing is almost turning me off. Are they quality stuff, and how do they compare in price to ALL Clad?

I find the more I fuss over the perfect smooth finish on cast iron, the more harm I do trying to "fix" it. I've done this several times, scraping some insignificant bumps on the cooking surface only to scrape a hole right in my nice seasoning layer. Then I cuss myself and have to try and repair the damage with more use.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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I see Made In adds everywhere. Their heavy marketing is almost turning me off. Are they quality stuff, and how do they compare in price to ALL Clad?

I find the more I fuss over the perfect smooth finish on cast iron, the more harm I do trying to "fix" it. I've done this several times, scraping some insignificant bumps on the cooking surface only to scrape a hole right in my nice seasoning layer. Then I cuss myself and have to try and repair the damage with more use.
I first got on the Made In train before they kind of exploded on the ad scene. For new pans, I think they compare favorably to All Clad and others and are often cheaper. They are indeed quality. I also prefer satin/brushed metal finishes to polished so that's an extra bonus for me. I currently have five pieces of their stainless and before too awful long I'll be adding a sixth in the form of their saute pan (which also comes in non-stick but I'm not sure it's worth dropping a lot of coin on non-stick stuff).

I might also get one of their new baking dishes for my daughter.
 

Jovidah

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If we all wanted no-maintenance cooking, we would all buy Teflon pans and Soft Stainless knives, but there is enjoyment in babying (or not) a high maintenance product for that little extra performance.
Although teflon pans certainly have their uses, they're anything but fuss-free. They simply don't fry as nicely, you can't use them at really high temps or it'll burn the teflon, you can't use half the tools in them, and on top of that even if you baby them you'll still end up replacing them every years. Then there's the uncertainty about long term health effects of constantly eating teflon.

If you really want no-maintenance, stainless clad aluminium is where it's at IMO. Also has its limitations in cooking of course, but the most forgiving to any sort of abuse.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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I see Made In adds everywhere. Their heavy marketing is almost turning me off. Are they quality stuff, and how do they compare in price to ALL Clad?

I find the more I fuss over the perfect smooth finish on cast iron, the more harm I do trying to "fix" it. I've done this several times, scraping some insignificant bumps on the cooking surface only to scrape a hole right in my nice seasoning layer. Then I cuss myself and have to try and repair the damage with more use.
FWIW buddy, tonight I made fried chicken with sweet chili sauce and str fry veggies:



So you're looing at a sticky honey-based sauce, fry oil, and high-temp sauteing ending with a sauce.

I did it all with these Made In stainless pans:



The 2qt sauce pan (shown here cleaned) did the chili sauce. The 3.5qt saucier fried the chicken (only had a few small pieces so it was fine), and the fry pan took care of the veggies. Clean up was easy but if you do run into any issues, a touch of Bar Keepers Friend goes a long way.

One of my biggest cooking regrets is not investing in good stainless cookware years ago. Choose whatever brand you prefer, but I really think stainless is worth exploring. There's a place for everything so I'm not suggesting stainless is all ya need, but I will say they'd be the last pans you'd get away from me.
 

Ruso

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FWIW buddy, tonight I made fried chicken with sweet chili sauce and str fry veggies:



So you're looing at a sticky honey-based sauce, fry oil, and high-temp sauteing ending with a sauce.

I did it all with these Made In stainless pans:



The 2qt sauce pan (shown here cleaned) did the chili sauce. The 3.5qt saucier fried the chicken (only had a few small pieces so it was fine), and the fry pan took care of the veggies. Clean up was easy but if you do run into any issues, a touch of Bar Keepers Friend goes a long way.

One of my biggest cooking regrets is not investing in good stainless cookware years ago. Choose whatever brand you prefer, but I really think stainless is worth exploring. There's a place for everything so I'm not suggesting stainless is all ya need, but I will say they'd be the last pans you'd get away from me.
How do you season stainless?
What brands of stainless pans worth looking at?
 

HumbleHomeCook

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How do you season stainless?
What brands of stainless pans worth looking at?

So there are methods for "seasoning" stainless. You can find quite a few videos on YouTube and such.

But, to be honest, I don't bother.

You can get the pan nice and hot and things won't stick too bad if you want. This is what I tend to do. A common way to tell is if you drop some water in the pan and it stays in one bubble that floats around the surface, you can add your oil and start cooking. One key is to let things cook enough to release naturally without prying.

Sometimes I want things to stick so I get a fond that I can scrape up into a sauce.

Now, I'm not going to use these pans for everything if I have other options so for sure there are times when something non-stick is better but you can do a lot with stainless And cleanup isn't terrible anyway. Often a little water and then placed on a warm burner will let you scrape most everything out and as I said, if not, some BKF will take care of things.

As for brands, there are lots and they span the spectrum from super low end to super high end. I am partial to the Made In brand. All Clad is extremely popular and has a number of different lines. Others are De Buyer, Matfer Bourgeat, Mauviel, Paderno, Viking, and many more.

I'm by no means an expert on the subject though. You could always start up a new thread dedicated to your questions and I'm sure there will be some great responses from the more experienced KKF folks!
 
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M1k3

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How do you season stainless?
What brands of stainless pans worth looking at?
Heating it up until it discolors helps make it more "non-stick".
 

boomchakabowwow

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my DuBeyer pan is older. very well seasoned for the most part. eggs slide around. it never leaves my stovetop.

BUT. i did a saute for two. i tossed in a couple of fistfulls of halved cherry tomatoes and cooked them while smashing them up. delicious with the entire pan load poured over chops i seared cooked earlier in the same pan. you know what? it took the bottom of my pan and stripped the seasoning off clean. like back to silver gray!! hahha..i didnt care. i cleaned it, and just started cooking again, and it is browning up slowly again. eggs still slide. but my pan is not the poster child of a well seasoned pan. it looks awful.
 
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