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Seasoned Pans

Q:  We’re using seasoned pans and after washing them they’ve started to peel their finish.  What did we do wrong?

A:  Pans that have been seasoned by applying oil to the pan and baking it in the oven until the oil polymerizes and forms a varnish like finish that at first starts with a golden-brown color and with continued use turns to a rich, dark (almost black) color, should never be allowed to soak in any kind of water as part of the washing process.  Soaking the pans can allow water to penetrate under the seasoned finish, causing it to come off the pan in sheets like a bad sunburn.  This gives the pans bicolor appearance, part silvery (the raw metal) and part where the seasoning is still adhering to the pan.  This will result in heat being reflected from the silvery portion of the pan, and more absorbed by the portion with the seasoning still intact.  The result is an inconsistent bottom bake on the pizzas.  Even worse than this, though, is the fact that those sheets of varnish-like material are going someplace, and that someplace might be the bottom of a pizza that you’ve just baked for a customer.  If you can get away with just wiping out the pans at the end of the day with a clean cloth, that’s great.  Just wipe them out, and put them away for later use.  If you can’t do this, and find that you must wash your seasoned pans, following is my procedure.  This procedure has served me well for many a year, and since I’ve been using it, I’ve had not a single case of peeling finish on any of my seasoned pans.

To wash your seasoned pans, grasp a pan in one hand and dunk it into hot, soapy water.  With a nylon bristle, short-handled pot brush in the other hand, gently scrub out the inside of the pan.  Immediately dip the pan in the rinse water, followed by sanitizing rinse, then invert the pan and run it through your oven with the temperature set at about 400F, leaving it in the oven just long enough to thoroughly dry the pan.  Repeat this with each pan to be washed.  Resist the temptation to toss a couple of pans into the soapy water, or you’ll end up with peeling pans.

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