Beyond Tephlon and Unhealthy Non-stick

dilly_nyNovember 11, 2012

I am looking for a Non Tephlon, healthier alternative pan in which one could make pancakes without using an enormous amout of butter. Also, non tephlon baking sheets.

I have a Le Cueset pan (enamel?) and while it is great for some cooking, it is not ideal for pancakes and some other dishes. I also have a cast iron pan and that was ok for the pancakes with a good amount of butter, but I left the pan in my sink to soak and was later greeted with a rusty ring on my ss sink. It came off, but I was not happy about it. I have a pampered Chef stone baking sheet that I like, but I can't imagine having 4 of them since they are so heavy, but I do like to have multiple cookie sheets on hand.

Any ideas for an alternative?

Thanks. I know you will have solution!

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I switched to rice bran oil as you need less/it coats really well/is healthier/and allows high heat stirfry/sizzling chicken pancakes should be a breeze I'd think.Very little need to scrub to the point of sore shoulders anymore. I use the regular stainless now for the most part.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 12:33AM
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For baking, I use commercial half sheet pans or what we home cooks think of as a regular size cookie sheet. If I want to use them as non-stick, I use silpat baking mats in the pan. No sticking. I haven't, however, considered the health consequences of silpat, which is strange given my affliction for all things organic and earth-friendly.

I can't offer suggestions for pancakes. I don't have a cast iron pan large enough, and I know my enamel or enamel-like frying pans wouldn't be the best. We use a large non-stick griddle pan or an electric griddle.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 3:00AM
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I use my cast iron skillet, I can only do 3 pancakes at a time, but that's what warming drawers are for.
I don't mean to offend, but I think you may not know how to treat your cast iron pan right, you should not need to use a lot of butter. I use one or 2 spritzes of oil for a double recipe of buttermilk pancakes.
Re-season your pan. This entails heating it on the stove, adding a high temp neutral oil, like peanut. Rub the oil around with a cotton rag or a wad of paper towels. Stick the hot smoking pan in a hot 350 oven for 45 minutes, turn the oven off. Leave it in there to cool.
After this, never let it soak in your sink, soaking is the enemy of seasoning and as you found out, really bad for your sink. And, don't use soap. If you have to use soap, you may need to re-season. After you use the pan, wipe it out with a paper towel, then run it under the tap, to rinse rinse it. You can aid the rinse with a soapless scrubby. If it still looks dirty or has a lingering odor, think fried fish, then put in 1/4 inch of water, bring to a boil, dump the hot boiling water, rinse and put the pan back on a burner to dry or dry it with a rag. cast iron cannot air dry, air drying = rust. If there is stuck on stuff, dump a handful of salt in the pan and scrub with the salt and a nylon bristle dish brush. A clean pan should look shiny and smooth, if it looks dull and dried out, it needs to be re-seasoned. I probably cook 70% of our meals in my two large cast iron skillets, last night I made roasted brussel sprouts with chili oil and agave nectar, washed as I told you and this morning we will be scrambling eggs for breakfast burritos.
In my house, no one is allowed to clean the cast iron pans except me, because they screw it up. If I am not around to clean it, it must just stay on the stove burner. I find if I have a cold pan to clean the pores of the metal are more open and so some of the seasoning seems to leach out. For cold pans, after boiling and drying, I wipe with a thin coat of oil and heat on stove top, skipping the oven part.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 7:30AM
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I use regular aluminum rimmed cookie sheets (from the restaurant supply store, about $6 each) and line them with parchment paper. You can get parchment in flat sheets, cut to fit the pans, at King Arthur Flour (NAYYY).

On parchment I can usually bake twice (so, load up the cookie sheet 2 time from the same batch) unless its chocolate chip, because those leave tiny bits of chocolate on the paper. I think it's $20 for 100 sheets of parchment ... It's cheaper at the restaurant supply shop but the quality wasn't as good.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 8:10AM
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I agree with Localeater - cast iron is a splendid cooking tool when properly cared for. I agree that teflon and other chemical coatings are undesirable. Getting a cast iron pan up to speed is not that hard and it's definitely worth it for their ease of cooking and peace of mind with no chemicals.

I do use soap on our cast iron pans, but it is very brief: a quick scrub, then hand dry and a light coating of oil as needed. Over time the seasoning will build up and the pan attains a dark luster. That's when you know you are in good shape.

We have Lodge cast iron skillets in 3 sizes and they all enjoy regular use. Scrambled eggs and pancakes glide right out and cleanup is a breeze.

For cookie sheets, we use the double-layer ones and a thin schmear of butter and have never had anything stick. Cookies are DH's department (lucky me!) and he swears by the double-layer uncoated cookie sheets.

I applaud you for seeking out alternatives - that is a worthy thing to do!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 9:54AM
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I have an enameled cast iron pan that works great and is non-toxic. Just a touch of oil and there you go. Don't know if you can find a griddle that is enameled, though.

And yes, don't soak your cast iron. Good, well-seasoned cast iron is the best non-stick surface there is.

Don't worry about butter: get some good grass-fed butter and eat lots of it! It's good for you! The myth of low-fat being healthy is finally starting to be found out for what it is: baloney.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 9:59AM
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For baking I love parchment paper. Can't get more natural than that.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 10:24AM
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"Don't worry about butter: get some good grass-fed butter and eat lots of it! It's good for you! The myth of low-fat being healthy is finally starting to be found out for what it is: baloney."

deedles: go Weston a. Price !!!!!
a great book is REAL FOOD by Nina Planck
...about to cook pancakes w/lots of farmer butter...YUM

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I'm with you Eatrealfood! Weston A. Price nailed it.
I'll check that book out. I'm experimenting with fermented food now... just made my first batch of sauerkraut a week ago... it's doing it's thing on the counter and should be ready to eat in another week or so...

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 11:32AM
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I would also love a non tephlon pan, and have considered getting a titanium one. Does anyone have experience with them? Are they worth the $$?

I love parchment paper. I get the big rolls from Costco. I even use parchment paper muffin cups.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scanpan

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 2:48PM
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Thank you for your suggestions about rice bran oil and cast iron skillets. I will season my pan and give it another try.

Breezygirl - I never wanted to try the Silicone mats because of the bad implants uncovered in the 90s, but from what I've read, its not the same type of silicone. Who knows?

Deedles and EATREALFOOD - I'm a believer in butter. Margarine tastes awful aside from the health concerns.

Has anyone tried Cuisinart GreenGourmet? Some reviews says you need to cook with alot of oil to make eggs, pancakes, etc.

Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 3:06PM
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We have the Green Gourmet omelet pan and scramble eggs in it every day. We use a little olive oil. A few times a year we get a little sticking, usually after someone cooks meat in it, but I clean it with baking soda and it's perfect again. It looks brand new after three years, pretty good for a non-stick.

I haven't tried pancakes, but I think it'd be fine. When I got my glass cooktop, I switched from a cast iron griddle to a heavy Anolon pan for pancakes. I wipe it with an oily paper towel between pancakes. I think that's all the GG would need too.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 3:55PM
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I bought a set of Minerale steel pans... not quite as heavy as cast iron but still require a little know-how (ie: no soap, no soaking, establish seasoning). Check out the cookwear forum, there are some good ideas there.

Although I like my pans (my 6" is seasoned nicely thanks to always cooking scrambled eggs with butter in it), I've had a hard time with the larger pans (9", 12") as I tend to use those for non-fatty foods (think sauces) as well as fatty. When I make tacos, for example, I wreck the seasoning easily (too acid?).

I got these to try to avoid teflon. I must say, though, I bought a Le Cruset crepe pan with a coating and it is such a breeze compared!

BTW, I also don't let anyone else wash the pans! They'll mess them up!

Here is a link that might be useful: cookwear forum

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 4:34PM
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Ooops: cookWARE. We don't spell everything different here in the true north strong and free! :)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 4:35PM
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For pancakes you might consider getting one of those two-burner cast iron griddles. I have one and it's the nuts since I can set up a production line on it and by the time the first one I've poured out needs to be flipped I am finished pouring on the additional ones.

One thought about cast iron: I am not big fan of the Lodge pans at all. They are coated with some proprietary coating (was assured by Lodge that it is both Kosher and Vegan) to make up for the fact that modern cast iron is nowhere near as smooth as vintage pieces. I absolutely loathe that coating! Lodge explained I could get it off by un-seasoning the pan and I plan to do so on my only pan (one of those ridged grill-pans that creates my DH favorite burn marks). Lodge said the preferred removal method was to run it through a self-cleaning oven cycle, but since I don't have one of those a second method is heavy-duty oven cleaner.

You can often find the much-more preferrable vintage cast iron in second hand or thrift shops, or buy it on eBay. The occasional collector's item piece is pricey but most vintage cast iron is dirt cheap - and better than modern stuff because it is much, much smoother and lighter weight, too. Griswold is a a very good brand (though a bit pricier than the more-common Wagner which is still very fine.) Unnnamed pieces are OK, too, if they meet your size needs. They will also generally be much cheaper as they have no price premium for the collectors. A little time spent looking at current and sold listings on eBay will give you an idea of what the range of prices ought to be. Shipping is high for cast iron, of course, because of the weight. An important point is whether the bottom is perfectly flat, not even slightly warped. This is doubly important if you are using an induction range. Even a small decorative ring on the bottom of the pan will make the induction less powerful.

I am a CI heretic: I wash my pans with hot water and dish soap after every use. Most of mine are on their third and four generations of use and I can tell you for sure my Gran, and Mother always washed their pans with soap, so I continue to do that. I wash them by hand of course, and dry them right away. I have had to re-season a pan only rarely and generally due to very long dis-use, or after the occasional spousal-error. I usually de-season and then re-season any CI pan that I buy from eBay or a thrift shop. Don't really have to, just makes me feel better to know it's my own accumulated old fat on the cooking surface. If you have a pan with an unspeakable amount of exterior crud you can remove all the seasoning and grease in an electrolytic bath. That's really taking it back to zero, and it then requires a more-intense reseasoning process. (Same thing but multiple rounds of greasings and heatings to get back to good temper.)

On the subject of cookie sheets: I use butter wrappers to grease the pan - I save all the empties in the freezer all year, so I'm always ready for a cookie binge. I don't like parchment paper because it is coated with silicone. It may be silly but I don't think that's good idea for my health or for the world's.



    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 7:03PM
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Yes, those who think that parchment is natural ought to take a closer look at what's in it these days. I bought parchment for the first time in a long time recently, and the surface sure as heck isn't paper.

I must confess I've never found any type of nonstick pan one iota easier to clean than good quality stainless.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 7:06PM
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You are correct, the surface of most parchment paper is impregnated with silicone. However, before anyone panics, the silicone used seems pretty inflexible (the paper is stiffer than you'd expect based on its thickness). In my mind, less flexible = less phthalates, and phthalates are the evil part of plastic.

Besides, if I let the cookies sit directly on the aluminum then they'd probably pick up aluminum and isn't that linked to Alzheimer's? (That was tongue in cheek). I linked an article below that talkes about silicone in baking materials (including silicone baking pans and silicone impregnated parchment paper).

Here is a link that might be useful: Article on safety of silicone in parchment paper

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 9:32PM
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Jack Kennedy

SCANPAN is the way to go. They are a ceramic titanium alloy with a pfoa free non stick surface. I hesitate to call it a coating or a surface because it is impregnated into the pan itself. The pans heat extremely evenly and brown beautifully. The non stick part of the pan is so hard that if you see marks in the pan it's from the utensil, not the pan scratching. You can use metal utensils on the pan it they will not harm the pan. You can also use the pans in teh oven, up to 550 I believe. The pans are made in Denmark, so no china here. They also have a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. I have a collection of over 50 pots and pans of various construction. The two SCANPANs that I have get used on a daily basis. I cook a full dinner for my family on a daily basis and bet the heck out of my cookware. These have stood the test of time, easily. Scanpan does have several different "lines" one has stainless steel on the exterior. Some of the others are black on the exterior, yet have different handles. The ones that have black, plastic looking handles, are the same pan as their more expensive brothers and can still be used in the oven without fear of melting.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 9:46PM
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Fori is not pleased

I use a cast iron griddle for pancakes. A tiny dab of butter or oil before I start is good enough for the whole job.

My spouse insists on using the teflon still.

And yes, absolutely wash cast iron with soap and water! Otherwise it's gross. :) If it's properly seasoned you'll need EZoff to damage it--the seasoning is the same as the baked on oven black stuff after all.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 9:49PM
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I like my aluminum airbake pans for cookies, and use "If you care" parchment paper to line them. I also use the same brand of muffin liners. Both are sold at Vitacost, linked below. They're wonderful for their nonstick quality.

I save bacon grease drippings to oil my cast iron cookware. It does great things for the pans, and gives a yummy flavor to things like pancakes and cornbread. MMMMMmmm. I warm the pans on the stovetop after washing them to dry them out, and then rub a little grease into them while they're still warm.

Here is a link that might be useful: Unbleached parchement baking paper at Vitacost

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 10:00PM
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Wow! I just really got an education on cast iron pans and seasoning! I'm not the original poster, but thanks so much. I never knew all this. I may have to give cast iron a try again. I was given a cast iron pan as a wedding gift years ago and tried to follow the directions to season it, but I think they weren't as good as explaining what to do as several of you allc here! I think I probably let it air dry--I believe it rusted right away and I got rid of it. I always like to know the reason to do or not do something--it helps so much.

By the way--for those of us not as up-to-date on the latest in cookware safety as we are tile backsplash styles, (LOL), can any of you explain why the non-stick coating are unhealthy? Is it like the BHA in plastics?

By the way-are all that plastic microwave cookware unhealthy, too, or just certain kinds? Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 10:20PM
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All plastic cookware should be avoided in a MW. Period. Just use glass.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 10:59PM
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Glenwood ~ Thanks for the info on Scanpan, its what I've been considering. Now I just need to find one that is compatible with induction!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 11:05PM
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"Yes, those who think that parchment is natural ought to take a closer look at what's in it these days. I bought parchment for the first time in a long time recently, and the surface sure as heck isn't paper."

There are parchment papers that are silicone-free and chlorine-free. You shouldn't judge an entire category by the one particular brand you happen to have at home.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 12:03AM
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Agree heartily with cast iron and carbon steel. Here is a snippet from a post I wrote earlier (linked at the end)

People always say to buy vintage Griswold or Wagner, which is a fine idea. However, a company called American Culinary bought all the rights and molds for BOTH of those companies, and is in business making NEW smooth cast-iron cookware. I do not have direct experience, but I wouldn't mind giving them a try. They are cheap enough; an 8" polished Wagner skillet is only $17.50.

Of course, the carbon steel pans I wrote about earlier are very, very smooth inside.

Here is a link that might be useful: New Wagner/Griswold maker

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 12:13AM
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We use either a cast iron griddle pan or a tri-ply (aluminum for heat conduction sandwiched inside stainless steel) for pancakes and french toast and don't need much butter to keep then from sticking. Part of the trick with stainless and not sticking is getting the pan hot enough before cooking. When you sprinkle some water on the pan, the drops should dance across the surface and evaporate quickly.

I've never found that I need to soak cast iron. If it's well seasoned, it should clean up easily.

For cookies on sheet pans, we use stainless steel and parchment paper. For other baking like cakes or muffins, we spray with Baker's Joy which is a mixture of oil and flour that prevents sticking with a very thin coat.

Omelets is the only time I miss Teflon. Mine usually turn into scrambled eggs because I haven't gotten the trick of keeping them from sticking.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:25AM
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Try making an omelette in a classic carbon steel wok, once it's been well seasoned. They're cheap and work brilliantly. Flat bottomed one would probably work best.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:43AM
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". . . can any of you explain why the non-stick coating are unhealthy? "

I am posting a link (below) that explains this far better than I can.

My personal experience--- Ten or so years ago, I was in a sewing class where 25 people were using irons to press fabric on non-stick teflon or silicon "pressing sheets" that are very similar (or identical) to the ones sold for baking.

Within five minutes, I started developing symptoms that felt like a flu taking over my body. My throat got dry and scratchy, overall malaise. ( A few hours later, I rode home with a friend and she noticed my voice was raspy.) I left the room to get some water.

Upon returning to the classroom, the fumes hit me. It was the out-gassing from all those pressing sheets. I was sick for quite a few days before the symptoms went away. Years of sewing and pressing on synthetic fibers probably set me up for this reaction. After that, I started doing research and found the web site I linked.

I had noticed, in Clotilde sewing notions catalog, that they advised customers to NOT buy their pressing sheets if they kept birds in the home. After that episode, I called the catalog company, asked about that, and they said 'out-gassing fumes' were too much for a bird's respiratory system and it could/might/would kill them. Better to give the warning and not sell a product, than be held responsible.

After that, I got on the Internet and started searching. That was when I found the web sited linked below.

I got rid of the few Teflon skillets we owned, I stopped baking any frozen food that came in a plastic tub which was meant for an oven, I won't even microwave in them, etc. (it all gets transferred to a pyrex glass dish. I also stopped using irons that have a non-stick surface.

Teflon has been replaced with something else, which may well take thirty to forty years before it is deemed unhealthy by the government.

I now only cook on cast iron or my All-Clad Tri-Ply stainless, bake in glass or metal; anything that is not non-stick. I won't even use those silicone baking things.

Here is a link that might be useful: Canaries in the Kitchen

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:46AM
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My reason for not using Teflon isn't particularly related to health.

I get use to a pan and I like having things that last a long time - so I found the short life span of Teflon and other non-stick coated pans annoying.

I also find it unpalatable that the bits of non-stick coating that flake or are scratched off the pans are mixed into the food even if I can't see the bits but know it must have been happening because coating has disappeared.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:52AM
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>There are parchment papers that are silicone-free and chlorine-free. You shouldn't judge an entire category by the one particular brand you happen to have at home.

Yes, this is very true, and I should maybe have been more specific, but I think most people just assume that if it says "parchment paper" it's parchment paper. I can't get any of the real kinds locally, need to order online.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 11:11AM
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Debbi Branka

I love my stainless steel pans with glass lids. I have all Princess House pans. LOVE THEM! I also bake all my cookies on Pampered Chef stones. I use butter (real butter - never margarine) to make pancakes. I don't think real butter is bad for you. But I also don't think real sugar is bad for you, or real milk!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 11:28AM
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Another cast iron fan here. I also have a few pieces of French carbon steel, which are way cheaper than premium ss, or other fancy French cookware. Like others, I prefer vintage CI, and I season mine with a high-smoke-point oil (grapeseed) and bake it for an hour or so at 450F. Lower temps won't allow the oil to properly polymerize and penetrate the iron structure. Only if you have a really hard baked on seasoning can you wash them with soap without risking damage. Lower temp seasoning may not be so durable.

I have the same opinion of teflon/non-stick as clouds_swift - I consider it a temporary product, while cast iron is multi-generational.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Where is the best place to buy original Griswold now ? I bought a few at a outdoor farmer market/fair years ago in PA.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 6:26AM
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Depends on what you mean by "best," I think.

Cheap = haunt flea markets, antique shops/swaps, estate sales, garage/rummage sales, Craigslist, etc.

Fast = eBay for Griswold

Fast and cheap = non-vintage Wagnerware

(Note: American Culinary Corporation owns the rights to Wagner and Griswold, but they evidently are only selling Wagnerware at this time.)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Thanks everyone. I guess I should give cast iron another try.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:48PM
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There is often a misconception about cast iron because we've all seen the commercials re non-stick pans with the eggs sliding around in them. Cast iron does not generally do that unless you float something in a sea of oil, but properly seasoned cast iron is truly non-stick.

I've been cooking on the same Griswold cast iron pans for over 40 years and my parents before that. When done cooking, while still hot, scrape the surface with the edge of a spatula with a few swipes to loosen bits of food. Try to wash it when the pan is at least warm simply for ease of cleaning, but it does not affect the seasoning if cleaned cold; it just takes longer to clean. If you want to use soap, fine, but I never do, just very hot water. A properly seasoned pan does not get "gross" or "gunky." The real trick to keeping the seasoning is to never scrub it with something abrasive. No scrubbies! I use a soft round brush that is soft enough so that if you scrub hard with it on the palm of your hand it does not hurt... and then I wash the brush with soap and water, not the pan.

After a while the seasoning builds up until the bottom of a dry pan has a dull sheen and is baby bottom smooth. At that point, you have a properly seasoned pan and nothing will stick to it that you have to scrape at more than once.

I do use butter and oil. A tiny dab or a few drops. You just need enough to "shine" up the bottom of the pan.

From cooktop to sink to clean takes me about 2 minutes. Once absolutely dry, place cloth between pans if you stack them and they are ready for the next time.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 11:11PM
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