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Great steel pan ... here's some seasoning tips for this type
on July 2, 2010
I wish I could include an image directly in this review. Here's a link to my quick seasoned De Buyer 10" Mineral Steel Fry Pan photo. This was taken after 2 hours of seasoning time: [...]
This pan heats quickly and evenly, and doesn't confer the same texture to the sear as a cast iron does. It's a much more "naked" finished product. So far, I've noticed that the spices and herbs are more up-front than doing something in cast iron. I'm comparing this to cast iron because that's my only reference point for another pan that retains heat, takes a seasoning, and can become extremely non-stick and "self-healing".
I'll update this review after I have some more time with the pan. I wanted to get this up today because I see a lot of different advice on how to season this pan, and I have some relatively foolproof instructions for you.
My wife and I ordered this pan as a lighter weight alternative to cast iron. While it's going to see plenty of kitchen duty, our first use of it will be camping in the wilderness. A really permanent, bulletproof seasoning takes use, care, and time. I needed one tough enough to withstand use and storage in a relatively uncontrolled environment for a few days without rusting. So here's my quick-seasoning guide. Takes a couple of hours, but always produces good results. If you skip or modify any steps, you won't get the same results (this is aimed at those who will invariably try to use grapeseed oil or something as a substitution)
1) You *do* need to peel a couple of potatoes, put the peels in the pan, cover them with an inch of water, and boil for 15 minutes as the instructions mention. There's some sort of shipping coating on this pan that this step removes. You will NOT get a good season on this pan until this coating is removed. While boiling the peels (just the peels, not the potatoes, this step is going to produce inedible results), carefully move the boiling water around the pan by tilting it back and forth. Get that enzymatic, chemically water around all possible cooking surfaces.
2) After 15 minutes of boiling time (not counting the time to get the water to a boil), drain the water, throw out the peels, and dry the pan thoroughly with a paper towel or two. Oil the pan *lightly* with Crisco, lard, clean bacon grease, or peanut oil. Cover the entire pan, bottom and all ... get everything coated except the handle.
*Don't* use canola, olive oil, or any other type of oil right now. You can use them for cooking in the future, but not for this step.
3) I think this is the critical point where people make mistakes. Most people seem to use too high of a heat for an initial seasoning, and/or an uneven heat. Get your oven pre-heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a clean cookie sheet (uncoated if possible, not non-stick) on the lowest rack to catch drips. Place the pan upside down on the rack above the cookie sheet, and set the timer for 30 minutes.
4) After 30 minutes, let it stay in the oven for another 30 minutes with the heat off, so it can slowly cool. A slow cooling process really helps the seasoning develop in my experience.
5) Once the pan is cool, take it out of the oven, and wipe it down with a different type of high temperature oil. If you used peanut oil first, this time use Crisco. If you used Crisco first, this time use bacon grease. This is the key. Different oils have different properties, and they'll bond to each other in different ways. I've seasoned a lot of pans in my time, and mixing and matching different oils for the process always results in a much more thorough seasoning, that doesn't flake off easily.
6) Now, repeat step 3 and 4 exactly.
7) You should now have a good initial seasoning. This process will take about 2.5 hours, of which, you'll mostly be waiting.
To keep it developing, here's all you need to know. Yes, the instructions say you can use a little bit of soap. Don't. Just don't. The heat of the pan will kill all possible pathogens. Just gently scrape the remaining food out of the pan when you're finished cooking, and let it cool naturally. When it's just warm to the touch, add a 2" puddle of oil to your pan, and rub it down with a paper towel. If something is really stuck to it, add a pinch or two of kosher salt or sea salt to the pan, and use that to scrub gently with a paper towel, and then re-oil it. That's all you should ever need to do. If you constantly resort to a hard bristle brush and (uggh) use soap, your seasoning will develop poorly and slowly.
ALWAYS store the pan lightly oiled. ALWAYS. If it looks dry, you're doing it wrong. When it comes time to cook, just put some fresh oil on a paper towel, and wipe it out to remove the old oil.
Don't heat the pan scorching hot for long when it's empty, as this will weaken an early seasoning layer and it might flake off in the beginning.
Don't use metal tools immediately. Try to stick to plastic, wood, or silicone tools for the first few sessions of cooking.
There, that's that. I hope these tips help some people get started with a tool that, properly cared for, will last a lifetime and be far more non-stick than any teflon surface could ever hope to be.
EDIT - In response to a comment/question that seems to be deleted
Regarding the safety of oven temperatures and the silicone pad at the top of the handle:
I'm pretty sure it's silicone, though I don't see it addressed anywhere in the manual or online.
My silicone portion looks as new as ever after about 2 dozen trips through the oven. All the other silicone tools we own state 500 degrees Fahrenheit as a maximum temperature, so I have a feeling you shouldn't exceed that as an oven temperature. I have used the pan over a 700F direct heat source without any issues as well. I don't feel there are any safety concerns with silicone at temps below 500F in an oven, as we use silicone baking mats that are much thinner material quite often, and there's never any smell or taste from them at any baking temperature.
Some people use a self-clean cycle in the oven to remove a badly damaged layer of seasoning, but I don't think I will ever do this with mine, as those cycles tend to go to 1000F or higher, and I think that would melt or destroy the silicone portion of the handle.