Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Season Preparations.

It's the time of the year when the first events come closer and closer, and with them the flurry of activity for preparation. We bought a new pot last year, for instance, and spent an hour on Sunday afternoon preparing it for use.

I was taught that iron cookware, whether cast iron or sheet iron, needs seasoning or breaking in ("frying in", the Germans call it) before use. This, of course, does not apply to stainless steel... but iron? It will definitely win by this.

The seasoning is done by frying potato in fat (I used sunflower seed oil) with salt, after previously cleaning the new pan or pot with hot water and some dish soap or other suitable detergent. The goal is to coat the small irregularities in the surface - and that can be done with polymerised fat and carbon black. There are instructions on the internet to use potatoes cut into slices, but you can just as well use potato peels for the frying, and then use your freshly seasoned thing to have some nice fried potatoes.

And in case you want them right here, right now, the short instructions for doing it: Heat up the clean pan, adding the fat (should be fat suitable to high temperatures!). Heat the fat until a potato peel dropped into it starts to sizzle; then add in all the peels and a generous amount of salt (which acts as a scrubbing agent). Move the stuff around in the pan, going on until all the potato is nice and black, and ideally, the bottom of your pan or pot should be darkened, too. That's all there is to it! The internet, of course, knows of a gazillion additional ways to do it, but that's the method I use, and it works well enough for me.

Plus I always get to remember that one time I was at a medieval market, and I went past the camp where a friend was... he hollered me and asked me if I would like to have some potato stew, they had plenty left over. Now, that group is one that usually cooks medieval-ish, so potatos were really surprising me. It must have shown on my face, as I was promptly told that a whole bunch of folks from that group had bought new frying pans on the market, and had wanted to break them in right away, for which they needed... potato peels. Which did explain the unexpected potato stew, since they ended up with a lot of peeled potatoes that way. (Very tasty, by the way.)

Oh, and once your thing is fit for use, clean the pan by wiping it with a rag or rinsing it with water. If there's stuff stuck to it, you can also salt it down: Heat a handful of salt in the pan, moving it around until it is brown and your pan is clean. That are the preferred cleaning methods for seasoned iron that I know.
You can use soap or dish soap if really necessary, but use it sparingly - it will take away from the seasoning. And use? Makes your cookware better. So bring on these fried foods...

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