If you want to season your pan, cover the bottom of the pan with salt and about an half inch of a high burning point oil. Heat your pan until it smokes, turn off the heat and let is sit until it is safe to discard the oil and salt.Then with a clean cloth wipe out the remaining salt and oil. This process seals the pores of the pan and will prevent foods from sticking. If you wash your pan you will need to re-season it.
Because the stainless steel is such a porus metal, when you bring the face of the metal in contact with hot water it opens up the pores in the pan and will extract the oils that you used to season it with....
This method is to protect it from sticking, if you are using the pan for general saute etc. this method really is not necessary, but I usually do it when I first purchase a saute pan.
Can you point to some sources to verify the function of salt in this process? The reasoning sounds suspect to me. Salt doesn't dissolve in oil so you won't get any of salt's fun ionic functions and the chemistry of the stainless steel and salt doesn't fit what I know of chemistry.
I called Chef Roy yesterday after getting the original reply from Philip, he told me that my substance abuse in those days factored into my memory loss, that he never taught me that...LOL...
OK...sooooooooooooo....I did some looking around in my library, stashed away in an ancient volume of Gastrominique I found instructions to a saute pan I bought eons ago, and it said the same thing that me and Cape said originally (more in the line of what Cape said, not me)...
Soooooooooooo........scientifically it does not make sense to me now that I think about it for several reasons...as Philip so happily pointed out...
Salt does not disolve in oil...salt can contribute nothing to the metal other than being an abrasive when cleaning out the pan of the oil (now that I think about it)...
So now I am lost and confused...I have been using this method for close to twenty years now and never questioned it before because it has always worked...now I want to know why it works...
The other day I was looking for some answers on how to season my frying pan and came across this thread.
Thank you very much for a suggestion and I'll definetely try the method in the nearest future!
At the same time I saw you guys were questioning salt role in the frying pan seasoning. Yes, salt does not react with oil, BUT) salt causes the oil droplets to clump together and finally form an oil layer. So it's just helping to evenly spread the oil through the whole frying pan.
Hope this is a good explanation on why we need salt there.
From everything I've read, the seasoning technique described above for SS is useless. This is a technique that's been used for cast iron and carbon steel pans, however.
I prep my new SS pots and pans with a thorough washing in hot water using a good dishwashing detergent - Dawn is a good one - and rinse the pan well. Next comes an application of Barkeeper's Friend, another good rinse, and another, lighter wash with detergent (to get rid of any risidual BKF) and that's all that's needed. BKF is used regularly after that. Very little sticks, and anything that does is easily soaked off with detergent and hot water.
Years ago good breakfast cooks in the hotel locked up their pans when they went home. Aftrer reading all of the above questions and answers I believe things got a bit crossed. Their pans were all steel ar heavyweight aluminum. If purchased new they were washed in soap and water ,dried and filled with salt.
They were then put on a burner till salt turned a slight grey color then it was thrown out. The pan was now rubbed with salad oil and hidden till needed. Eggs never would stick, and we did not know from teflon.
The main thing the pan never saw water again, the eggs slid out to the plate the pan then wiped and re oiled. This process was only done for 8.9.or 10 inch saute pans for eggs., any other pans didn't matter. When new the labels were taken off and the pot washer scrubbed them and hung them to dry. The only stainless steel pans we used were double boilers, as ss pans form hot spots and uneven cooking.:lips:
Hmmm - all is as clear as mud I'm only home cooking, so cannot attest to the use of any highly used pan.
I recently bought one (hey the budget was good that week). Just washed it out with hottish water and a good detergent, dried it thoroughly. Left it till I used it. Does fine for anything I've thrown at it. Steaks, eggs, sauces, breaded cuts, onions...the list goes on. Then just clean it the same way. Even let it drip dry when time is short.
I'm sure the pans prob react differently after high volume use. This is just me relating what happens in a home environment for those who are interested.
To my mind, the whole question is really why you want to season a pan in the first place. I thought the point was to produce carbon patination and make the pan essentially nonstick. The down side being that you can't ever wash the pan again. But with SS such a mediocre conductor I can't see why you'd want to go to all this trouble, especially as you'd end up losing the one thing SS really has going for it: dishwasher safety.
If you want a perfectly-seasoned egg pan, then you use things like rolled carbon steel, which you do season, and then you have to use it constantly to keep that patina. Same goes for a wok. Cast iron does better with this, I find, but you'd still never wash it.
I'm with you, DC, but let me see if I can explain. Do you know the classic French fines herbes omelet? The thing that's perfectly moist in the center, never ever browned, and smooth as silk?
Okay, so here's how you make it, in short. You put your pan over high heat, add butter, and whisk up some eggs with some minced herbs. Just before the butter starts to toast, you add all the eggs and start stirring very fast all over the pan with the bottom (the bowl part) of a fork, at the same time shaking the pan back and forth rapidly, so everything is constantly in motion. In about 30 seconds, if that, you stop for 2 seconds, then tip up the pan, fold the back edge into a crescent-moon shape, bang the end of the pan to bring up the far lip, flip it over the omelet, and then roll it right out the end of the pan onto a plate. The whole thing takes less than 1 minute.
Ready? Now try it on your nice stainless. Use 3 eggs and about 2 Tb butter. You know what will happen? It'll stick like (insert expletive of choice).
Try it on a nonstick pan: it'll work, if you do it right, but there are two problems. First, they didn't have that back in the day, and second, you're going to scratch up the teflon coating doing this. So if you make omelets like this all through a breakfast service, every day, you need a pan that conducts heat very well, with a nonstick surface that will not break up.
The way to get that surface is to season the pan with the oil and salt thing. (Yes, I've also been told about the salt as gospel, for what it's worth.) And then use that pan constantly, like 20+ times a day, and there will be no pan to beat it.
Jacques Pepin is very funny about this. He says (insert accent and manner): "I have a pan like this that I don't use. Why don't I use it? Because it sticks. Why does it stick? Because I don't use it."
Good explanation - thanks Chris. It doesn't get used very often, as I said, I'm only a home cook. Now I understand the reasons behind the seasoning debate. Makes sense.
Good thing I don't make omelettes
But I did season my SS wok and never put soap near it. It's lovely and black on the inside and does a good job. Have had it about 5 years (again, just home use few times a week) and it hasn't stuck.
Got a little cast iron griddle pan which I seasoned, and its never been near soap either. Its my favorite kitchen toy. We moved recently and I couldn't find it - when I did, it was like greeting an old friend. The things that make us happy.....!
Not exactly patination. The "season" gets into the pan's micropores and forms a very smooth layer of well-cooked, very hard carbon.
You can wash them, gently -- although a rinse and wipe is preferable. What you cannot do is scour them. The older and harder the carbon in the pan, the better it will withstand cleaning.
Minor quibble here. Frequently "stainless" cookware is multi-layer or sintered to a high-conduction bottom. The "one thing SS really has going for it" is non-reactivity. It's safe with acids.
It's not a great idea to put stainless cookware in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent moves around pretty fast in there and can cause pitting. If you must, try and use something with a LOT of chrome in it.
Well, seldom. Cast is great, but carbon steel is preferable when weight and responsivie are in issue. Carbon steel skillets are the best pans for toss turning, and my favorite general use pans when things like wine and tomatoes aren't big issues. Cast's non-stick performance is similar, but where it shines is with heat retention.
Hi, all. I found this thread in searching for a way to season a steel pan. It started life as a teflon pan - nice heavy base, outstanding handle, etc, with predictable results. Over the years, the teflon got scratched up and even formed some flakes that I did not want to come off in food. Rather than throwing it away, I paid a local shop $20 to sand blast the ruined teflon away, leaving a slightly rough surface. I coated that with oil and tried to season it on the stovetop without any salt. The oil pooled, then got thick and nasty (think BP tarballs), so I started searching for the "right" way to do it. The salt evidently keeps the oil liquid. Don't ask me for the chemistry behind it, because I don't have a clue - but it works!