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Cooking With Carbon Steel

Cooking

We recommend cooking proteins and foods rich in fat to develop a slick patina. Please note that acidic foods like wine, vinegar, and tomatoes will strip your seasoning. Whenever this happens, or if your carbon steel needs a little TLC, simply reseason your pan!

Carbon steel is highly heat reactive and conducts heat much faster than stainless clad or cast iron cookware. Always preheat your pan at low heat before adding your oil or fat, and err on the side of lower heat settings as you first get started.

Sommelier Approved

“I'm looking for a glass that enhances the wine to the point that the wine overtakes the glass and the glass sort of falls away and you get to have a full, beautiful experience of what’s in your glass. I think this glass does that beautifully.” - Sarah Thomas, Advanced Sommelier

With a properly developed patina, carbon steel cookware can be simply wiped out with a paper towel after use. While you work on developing your seasoning, avoid soap to keep your progress intact. If you have stubborn food residue, you can scrub with a sponge or scrape with a wooden utensil. Any marks into the surface of the pan will fill in with seasoning.

Carbon steel is made from 99% iron and can rust. While rust can be fixed with reseasoning (and does not damage the pan), always dry your pan on low heat on the stovetop to prevent rust from forming. Never air dry.

Cleaning

What to Expect

While your cookware is preseasoned, it is not non stick. Preseasoning is a layer of baked on flaxseed oil to act as your initial seasoning. You’ll build a slick cooking surface over time with use and following the proper care instructions.

You can also expect the appearance of your cookware to change. Carbon steel develops a patina that reflects what is cooked within it, and an uneven appearance of blue, black, brown, and even yellows are not uncommon. Carbon steel is a workhorse, so it’ll be the performance, not the appearance, that you can use to judge how well the pan is seasoned.

How To Clean Your Pan After Use

All you need to do to clean your carbon steel pan is to wipe out any excess oil from your pan, while using coarse salt to free any stuck food residue. This will keep your pan’s seasoning intact. You should NEVER put your carbon steel pan in the dishwasher as this will strip the seasoning and cause rust to develop.

However, if there are stubborn pieces of food stuck to your pan, add a bit of water to cover the bottom of your pan and gently bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Once the water reaches a boil, scrape at the food bits with a wooden or rubber spatula. Once your food is no longer stuck, dump out the water, and thoroughly dry your pan.

Return your pan to the stovetop and heat it over medium-low to get rid of any residual moisture. Failing to dry your pan thoroughly could result in your pan rusting. Add a thin layer of a high-smoke point oil or Made In Seasoning Wax to the pan, and spread the oil using a paper or dish towel over the interior until you have an even coating. Leave your pan over heat for a minute and tilt it over the burner to ensure the wax covers the full surface of the pan. Your pan is now clean and seasoned!

How To Clean Your Pan After Use

Visual FAQ & Things To Avoid

We see these questions the most. The one thing we want to stress is that these pans are almost indestructible. Carbon steel will often look “ugly” and change colors from black, blue, brown, and even orange. This is completely normal and part of the process. The best thing to do is to continue to cook with and season your pans. The more love you give it, the more it will love you back.

The Blue Layer Is "Coming Off"

Carbon steel cookware starts as a silver-hued alloy of 99% iron and 1% carbon. Before this is shaped into cookware, we apply a thin layer of vegetable oil and then put these sheets through a high-heat baking process known as annealing. The annealing process darkens the metal into the blue you can expect our carbon steel pans to arrive with and works to protect from corrosion in transit and aids in the initial seasoning.

This blue color will change drastically over the first month of cooking. The blue will disappear or fade as the oil and fat from your cooking incorporates into your seasoning. It can also be scrubbed off or removed with acidic foods like tomatoes, wine, or citrus. This is normal and is a good reminder to reseason your pan if you start to see the silver metal of your carbon steel pan.

Sommelier Approved

“I'm looking for a glass that enhances the wine to the point that the wine overtakes the glass and the glass sort of falls away and you get to have a full, beautiful experience of what’s in your glass. I think this glass does that beautifully.” - Sarah Thomas, Advanced Sommelier

Problem: Not drying your pan thoroughly on the stovetop or leaving it wet will cause rust to develop. If you notice rust, do not worry! It can easily be fixed, since it’s a byproduct of the high iron content.

Solution: If you notice rust on your pan, scrub it away with soap and water. If you find that this isn’t working, steel wool can easily remove any remaining rust. Afterward, you’ll need to thoroughly dry and reseason your pan. Please refer to the above-mentioned stovetop or oven seasoning methods to proceed.

Rust Has Developed

A Dried Out Surface

A dried out surface can occur if you haven’t used your carbon steel pan for an extended period of time. If you know you aren’t going to be using your carbon steel cookware, make sure to apply a thin layer of oil to the surface to keep it from drying out. However, if you notice that your cookware is dried out, go through either of the two seasoning methods mentioned above. You can also choose to cook naturally fattier foods, like bacon or steak. This will help season the pan while also providing you with delicious food.

Too Much Oil Used

Too much oil in the seasoning process can cause the surface of your pan to become sticky and splotchy. The best way to avoid this is to make sure you use a very thin layer of oil for seasoning. Dip a paper or kitchen towel into your Made In Seasoning Wax or oil before applying it to the interior surface. After each time you cook, be sure to use a paper or kitchen towel to wipe out any excess oil or grease that has accumulated. If your pan is too sticky, add coarse salt to the surface of your pan and use a towel to scrub the surface. This will smooth out the pan and get rid of any residue.

Avoid Acidic Food That Strips Seasoning

Acidic items like citrus, wine, tomatoes, and vinegar can strip away the patina that you’ve built up in your pan. We suggest using our stainless clad cookware if what you’re cooking calls for these ingredients.

However, using acidic foods in your carbon steel pan does not ruin it! If you do end up cooking with acidic foods and notice the seasoning strip from the pan, do not worry, as it is perfectly healthy and safe. You will just need to reseason your pan using the stovetop or oven method.

When cooking with carbon steel, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Before you even put your pan on the stove, you should make sure your food is tempered, and as close to room temperature as possible. Preheating your pan over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes before cooking is key. After your pan has been preheated, add your oil or butter, and let that heat in the pan for 1-2 minutes. After that, you should add your food. Don’t overcrowd the pan, as this can lead to steaming, which will stop your food from achieving a Maillard reaction.

While carbon steel can take heat up to 1200F, it is not necessary. Most often, you should cook over medium heat, as this will still allow you to achieve amazing sears on your steaks and other proteins. Carbon steel heats up quickly and conducts heat phenomenally, so you’ll likely find you need less heat than you may be used to.

You’ll also want to avoid delicate foods like fish or eggs with a freshly seasoned carbon steel pan. With each use, the oil and fat from the food you cook will incorporate into your existing seasoning and help develop a slick patina. Start with proteins and food high in fat for the best possible stick-resistant surface, and carbon steel should improve with every meal!

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Visual FAQ & Things To Avoid

Cooking With
Carbon Steel

Thank you for purchasing a Made In Preseasoned Carbon Steel pan! Before getting started with your carbon steel, you can register for Made In’s limited lifetime warranty below with your email and order number. You’ll receive a warranty confirmation email following your registration, and we highly recommend keeping a record of your original purchase as well.

Your Carbon Steel Pan

Before you get started with your cookware, we highly recommend reading through the included insert for care instructions. Here are a few additional tips for getting started below.

Your Carbon Steel Pan

Thank you for purchasing a Made In Preseasoned Carbon Steel pan! Before getting started with your carbon steel, you can register for Made In’s limited lifetime warranty below with your email and order number. You’ll receive a warranty confirmation email following your registration, and we highly recommend keeping a record of your original purchase as well.