what should I do with this deBuyer carbon steel pan? the surface is too sticky to be useful (pic)

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by wcanyon, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. wcanyon

    wcanyon

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    I got this iron alloy / carbon steel pan for xmas and I was really excited. But over the past few months I've been very dissatisfied with it. Today I tried making scrambled eggs in it. Heated it up to low-medium, about a tbsp of grapeseed oil. Waited about 5 minutes to make sure it was heated. Put the eggs in and by the end I'm having to scrape the eggs off the bottom of the pan. The eggs weren't getting over cooked, they never turned brown.

    I tried seasoning it with flax oil in the oven when I got it. That didn't go very well. Eventually the surface flaked off. 

    I then re-finished it by stripping off the flax oil with oven cleaner and refinishing it with the potato peel and oil method that deBuyer recommends (no really). That surface was just a train wreck so I didn't see many other options. Refinishing my cast iron pans in this way went so well... but not so much for the iron alloy pan. 

    Now I'm kind of at a loss for what to do with it. The one thing I need this pan to do well is eggs. Salmon and chicken would be nice. I'll cook steak in the cast iron pan. 

    I'm trying to decide if I should strip it down again or call deBuyer and get help from them. The coating on the handle is a beautiful deep brown and seems to be what the coating on the rest of the pan should be. 

    Suggestions? 

     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  2. ordo

    ordo

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    In your place i would clean up the pan thoroughly using a metal sponge and reseason. Problem seems to be the seasoning is not what it should be.
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    What's an "iron alloy" pan? It looks to me like a carbon steel pan?

    In any case, it looks to me like you've never seasoned that pan properly, so strip it down and try again until you're successful... 

    And FWIW eggs would not be the first thing I cook in a freshly seasoned carbon steel pan. Something easier, like steaks, chops, or bacon, etc...? 
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  4. Iceman

    Iceman

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    OK.  So I'm reading through this situation, and I don't think I'm catching everything correctly.  

    "Heated it up to low-medium, about a tbsp of grapeseed oil. Waited about 5 minutes to make sure it was heated."

    Did you heat the pan for 5-minutes before adding the oil, or with the oil, cooking the oil for 5-minutes?  All this is for cooking eggs?   I don't get it.  Sorry. 
     
  5. wcanyon

    wcanyon

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  6. ordo

    ordo

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    You need to heat the pan first. But anyway you need to re season that pan.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  7. wcanyon

    wcanyon

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    Sorry, yeah I think it's carbon steel. The company calls it a Mineral Element B or somesuch which makes no sense to me. 
    Well I stripped it down a few weeks ago and reseasoned it according to their instructions. What you see is the result. I guess I can try again... 
     
  8. wcanyon

    wcanyon

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    Suggestions for how to reseason it? Should I strip it down to bare metal? 
     
  9. ordo

    ordo

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  10. wcanyon

    wcanyon

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    Yes, thanks, that's what I thought this pan should look like. Sigh, I guess I'm gonna strip it down again. Thanks for the help, I'll read that other thread and follow it. 
     
  11. french fries

    french fries

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    Mine looks nothing like ordo's so I may not be the best person to ask about seasoning.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
  12. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I season by rubbing with peanut oil and baking in a 400 F oven for at least an hour.  ANd for the next year or so I fry bacon in it daily and gradually a black patina/coating will build up and it's at that point that I consider my pan seasoned.
     
  13. Iceman

    Iceman

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    You fry bacon up daily?  .....  and for a year or so

    This is a wild thread. 
     
  14. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Every morning for breakfast.
     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I have three deBuyer Mineral B pans in different sizes.  They're great.

    You and Kokopuffs are both right.  The problem is with the seasoning.   

    Carbon steel and cast iron pans need repeated seasoning and very gentle seasoning before developing a truly non-stick surface (but the seasoning oil doesn't always have to be bacon). There are plenty of good ways to start a season.  The potato method is one, but not the only way.  Starting a season isn't a big deal, but killing it is.  You must protect the nascent seasoning by not scouring it off when you clean the pan.  It takes care and patience to develop the season to the point where the pan becomes non-stick.  Beyond patience, you should also recognize that even once a carbon steel or cast iron pan is well seasoned, it will not function in the same way as a teflon, ceramic or other artificial non-stick surface.

    For one thing, a season requires appropriate maintenance, which includes oiling before putting away.  For another, cooking requires a little more fat.   

    It's hard to know what went wrong with your eggs.  From your description, I think there were more problems with suiting your technique to the pan than with the pan itself. 

    Let's talk about cooking those scrambled/omelette breakfast eggs in a way which will guarantee success.  Preheat the pan thoroughly over medium-low heat.  DeBuyer Mineral pans are fairly thick and require some time to pre-heat.  Don't rush it.  Add a little bit of vegetable oil to the pan, and allow it to heat to the shimmer point.  If you like some oil in the butter for flavor or to help prevent the butter from browning, add the butter to the oil.  If not, dump the excess oil into the sink.  After a few months, you probably won't need to oil the pan to ensure a slick surface before melting the butter; but it's good technique anyway. 

    The pan should be hot enough so that the butter foams when it hits the pan, but not so hot that the butter immediately browns.  Allow the foam from the butter to begin subsiding before adding the eggs to the pan.

    Give the eggs a few seconds to begin to set.  With the pan on the fire, take the handle and swirl the pan; neither too diffidently nor with too much enthusiasm.  If the "system" is working, a clump of curds will form in the center of the pan and swirl around in the un-cooked liquid eggs as you continue to swirl the pan.  It will form the basis of your omelette or scrambled eggs.  After you have the clump going, you can use a spatula if you like for the processes of lifting the edges of the solids and getting liquid eggs to the pan surface; but as the pan's season and your egg-cooking skills develop, you'll find that you really don't need it.  

    After cooking, clean your pan.  Just as a matter of improving the season, the best way to clean is by wiping the pan with a dry paper towel or a damp sponge.  Often though, you'll need to at least rinse with plain water.  Mild dish soap isn't a disaster, but it makes the process take longer.  If there's stuff stuck to the bottom, which requires you to use water, soak the pan first to soften it.  Use a soft dish brush. 

    Dry you're going to have to dry the pan over moderate heat; after the pan is dry, but still on the fire, add just enough oil in the pan to swirl it around; heat the oil to the shimmer point; pour the excess oil out of the pan; wipe the pan with a paper towel, making sure to oil the entire interior with the remaining oil; and finally allow the pan to cool completely before putting it away. 

    Oiling the pan with very hot oil every time after it's washed will help improve the season.  Oiling the pan as part of the pre-heating process will help kick-start whatever non-stick properties it's already developed.  Using techniques which keep food from sticking to the pan, will make clean up easier and less problematic for the season. 

    This is a picture of a Mineral pan which is about half way on the way to a good season (ignore the pepper mill):


    The surface of the pan is shiny because it's oiled.  ALWAYS oil your carbon steel and cast iron pans before putting them away. 

    This is a picture of my granddaughter, Ashlee.


    Her surface is shiny because she's so new.  She has nothing to do with any of this, but I couldn't resist.

    Of course eggs aren't the only things you'll be cooking in the pan.  If you sear meat in your pan, it will stick during the first part of the searing process even if the pan is oiled.  That sticking is a part of forming a good sear (aka crust).  Shake the pan every minute and after the sear has formed, the meat will naturally "release" and move easily -- without prying it from the pan with a spatula.  Allowing the meat to sear until it releases will create a fond which can and should be lifted off the bottom of the pan by deglazing.  Levering meat off the pan, will leave sticky stuff which will only clean off the pan with difficulty.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  16. wcanyon

    wcanyon

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    Wow, very thorough post, thanks. 
     
  17. Iceman

    Iceman

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    Yeah ... LOL ... concise, direct and to the point.

    The little kid looks nice though.   I like how she's giving you what looks to be a raspberry.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  18. maryb

    maryb

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    As always BDL know the cure. I have a carbon steel wok that took about the same time to cure properly but now nothing sticks, not even eggs when I make fried rice.
     
  19. ordo

    ordo

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    @bdl: Thanks God it’s a pepper mill! I first thought it was some kind of 17th century sex toy. Man, what a relief!

    I don't merely oil my pans after each cooking. I re season. Time consuming, not something you can afford in a commercial kitchen of course.

    After you clean the pan under hot water rubbing it with a soft metal sponge, heat the pan again to hell, add a spoon of new oil, swirl the pan so the oil covers the whole bottom and sides, and clean again, while still hot, with cotton cloth. 
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013