Report, Seasoning Carbon Steel Pan with Vollrath method


(Memory) #1

Purchased a DeBuyer Mineral 12.5” carbon steel pan and followed manufacturer’s directions for seasoning: wash wax coating off with hot water, heat a thin layer of oil (I used Canola) to the smoking point, clean w/hot water and . . .start cooking. After a week the pan had a rim of gloppy, ridgey hardened oil along the sidewall. Yuck. Opinions vary on whether such stuff affects the pan’s performance, but every time I used the pan I felt irritated. YouTube research led me to Vollrath’s Instructional video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xoIO8YOpyN4
Am posting this to provide a few observations and caveats not mentioned in the video.

  1. Initial cleaning: Tried Barkeeper’s Friend but it didn’t move the worst of the glop, so followed Vollrath’s recommendation and used oven cleaner to strip the pan. I sprayed it, sealed it in a plastic bag, and left it over night. Then used Barkeeper’s to scour last stubborn bits. Not factory clean, but good enough.
  2. Feel free to go down the rabbit hole of appropriate oils for seasoning! I decided to go with Vollrath’s recommendation and used flax oil.
  3. Started the long process described in the video: warmed the pan, applied a thin coat of oil, then heated the pan to the smoking point. Cooled to cold. Repeated eleven times.

Notes:

  1. Opinions vary (greatly!) but in my experience if I didn’t achieve smoking plus darkening, when the pan cooled there were tacky areas. Would these have “cross-linked” in the next heating? I don’t know. But I decided to be rigorous. If I had any tack, I re-heated until, when cooled, the pan felt dry, smooth and hard.
  2. The video demo is on a commercial range with a large diameter burner. My Chambers daisy burner puts out 9000 BTUs. This was not enough to heat the sidewalls. I had to hold the pan at angles to expose the sides to the flames — a pain! It took ten minutes to achieve a smooth, dark, hard coating on the sidewalls as well as the bottom. I decided this was worth it if I ever wanted to make tart tatin. Also I decided that after all this work I wanted to do a thorough job. One thing I learned : steel is not like copper (duh!): it does not conduct heat up the sidewalls efficiently.
  3. Beware: it stank. I have a large Vent-a-Hood & opened three windows and still after doing four layers in one go I felt a little light-headed. I can’t imagine doing this in an unvented room.
  4. By the end of eleven sessions the pan looks good. The area where the handle is attached never got hot enough to go as dark as the rest, but I didn’t have it in me to hold the handle over the flame like a blacksmith.
  5. When they say “thin layer” they mean thin. If I didn’t wipe and wipe with a paper towel, the layer stayed sticky. “Thin” in my experience meant a shine.
  6. Each layer doesn’t go dark evenly — there are dots and streaks, but they shouldn’t be dimensional. It feels smooth but didn’t look smooth until coat eleven. Hope that makes sense.
  7. Vollrath says this is a foundation seasoning & you still have to keep using oil or butter when cooking to achieve a non-stick surface. True! After all that work, I used a dab of butter & my eggs still stuck. But the pan looks awesome & I have faith that I’ll achieve non-stick Nirvana in time.

Disclaimers:
Was it worth it? I don’t know. I did it because I found conflicting reports about alternative (easier) methods everywhere, and I decided to trust Vollrath.
Did I do it right? I don’t know. There are so many conflicting opinions, and the video was frustratingly vague. YMMV.



(Jimmy ) #2

Wow! That is truly a great set of efforts you put in.

Did you toss a grenade the manufacturers way?


(Memory) #3

Dude! Well, yes. But once I was in and realized what a chore it was going to be, I didn’t have the guts to stop. Still wondering if I should have gone w/the potatoe peel method and used the time saved for a foot massage. However, in the interest of science. . .