Scrubbin’ It

Say hello to my new friend the KingSeal Stainless Steel Scrubber, Heavy Duty Commercial Size. If you’re doing the cast iron cookware thing, as we are, you’re going to need a scrubber. And this puppy is the Hummer of scrubbers (apologies for that metaphor) and far sturdier than the usual flimsy supermarket scrubbers. It was gifted to me by Steve Rucidel, who owns a restaurant–so this is an item you’ll have to seek out at your local restaurant supply store.

Sadly, made in China–but what ain’t these days?

Now if only I didn’t have to do the dishes!

Mrs. Homegrown here:  

This is indeed a fine, stout scrubbie, but as at least one commenter says, it may not be the best thing for the cast iron. For indeed, if your cast iron is well seasoned, food should come off a rag, or a couple scrapes with a flat spatula. Unless you’ve really burnt dinner or something.  I’m laughing right now that Erik should put forth opinions on scrubbing cast iron, when in fact he’s very, very good at avoiding cleaning it day to day. He’ll do dishes, but “forget” the pans on the stove. Forget them for, like, what is it now…15 years?  He’s excited by the sturdy, attractive qualities of this object, and the fact his buddy Steve gifted him it–but he asked me to post this clarification re: the cast iron.

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  1. A relative who buys through Amway gifted me a bag of the home-sized version of these. I think they’re marketed under the name scrub buds. They are awesome and last a very long time.

  2. Very cool, but I’m not sure that I’d use it on my cast iron. I’d be concerned it would too easily wear through the seasoned patina that provides its wonderful non-stick properties.

  3. Mrs. liebman’s makes a long handled copper bristled brush. They no longer carry it locally in any store, so order them by the case from Liebman’s directly. They scrub the cast iron, the grill, other things that need scrubbing and make great gifts for the people who wonder where did you get that great scrub brush!

  4. A stainless steel scrubbie is absolutely a bad idea for cast iron. It will “clean” the seasoning (which is a build up of cooking oils) right off and leave you with a pan that sticks like crazy and then NEEDS a steel scrubbie. I use a nylon grout brush, Which has stouter bristles than you average kitchen brush and is available at hardware stores. Though I can’t vouch for them as food safe particularly. Another good cast iron scrubber is wadded up plastic mesh bags like they sell onions in. I seem to remember you did a post about making one. Very easy and resourceful.

  5. I took all my cast iron pots, skillets, and lids and put them on the grill this summer, burning off all the crud that has accumulated through the years and I could not scrub free. This burning-off method is ultimately faster and easier for me to do. Injured hands do not scrub with any measure of success without lingering pain and weakness.

    Last night, I cooked scrambled eggs in a newly seasoned iron skillet. I managed to get all but a bit or two out with the cooking utensil. The rest will come out without using metal. When I did waste time scrubbing out cast iron, I used a small copper version of your scrubber. It worked but finally was torn to pieces by time, effort, and crud. I find that if I take the time to wash the cast iron right then and not wait until after dinner, a dish cloth or plastic scrubbie works just fine.

    A very short soak makes crud easier to remove with your new scrubbie. “Short ” is not overnight.

    That said, maybe he will use it more often since it is man-sized scrubber and industrial strength…lol. I am so amused that he has “forgotten” the pans on the stove for 15 years.
    Yes, I have been laughing, too.

    Mrs. Homegrown,
    Think of all the commercials through the years of tv where a woman is cleaning, cooking, or doing any kind of domestic chore to sell a stove, mop, or cleaner–a guy talks and she smiles. This is less prevalent than it was years ago.

  6. @Calamity: Thanks for remembering the recycled onion bag scrubbie. Yes, that is my primary scrubbie, and we’ll probably go back to making those after this shniy Cadillac scrubbie wears out–because lord knows I’m not making a trip to restaurant supply for a scrubbie.

    @Parsimony: Yes, a short soak does wonders! I usually pour a little water in the pan the minute I take the food out, while the pan is hot. I have this untested notion that works better.

  7. O, the restaurant supply store is a nice place. It’s basically why I don’t bother paying for a Costco membership. Don’t buy baker’s yeast ANYWHERE else, you’ll get robbed. Also, it’s your best source for kitchen utensils; they’re inexpensive and industrial-durable.

  8. Hehheh…. I’m still on the lookout for a decent pastry scraper to send your way after your comment a while back at a sourdough bread demo. It was something along the lines of “flour and water make glue, and Mr. Homegrown leaves it on the counter to dry. It takes ME forever to get it off…” I swear, when I find one on sale or at an estate sale, I’m buying it and mailing it to you. Mine changed my kitchen life, just like a canning funnel. SO many uses!

    I’ve worked in restaurants for way too many years, and these scrubbers are indispensable for cleaning flat griddles and stainless steel. Like you, I prefer the wash it quick method for handling cast iron.

  9. @Eric: True, but restaurant supply stores are *entirely* too tempting for me. But yes,yeast in bulk! Put it in a jar in the fridge. That’s the only way to go.

    @Jenna: Ah, yes, the flour glue on the countertop problem. He’s intractable. I wish I could send Erik off to stern French pastry school where they’d beat him around the ears for having a messy work surface. Not only would he come back with better habits, he’d also come back knowing how to make croissants!

    Thank you for tip re: the scraper. It sounds like a wonderful device. Don’t know if it would work on our counter because it’s made of hex tile, so the drippy starter glue gets down into the grout. I’ve found the best thing to do is pour boiling water over the dried spots. Hot water is really all that lifts it.

  10. I use a little salt as an abrasive if my cast iron needs a little help to get the crud off. It seems to take off the food remains without damaging the seasoning.

  11. Cold water in a hot cast iron skillet is a tried and true method of possibly cracking/warping cast iron. I forgot which it does, but the result is not good. I wait until I eat my meal and then put water in while all the food residue is still a bit soft. I started a cast-iron care post in July when I burned off all the crud. Salt is a really good way to remove cooked on food and remove black crud that starts to form, highly recommended by lots of people, just not something I have tried.

    A friend entertains with things bought cheaply from restaurant supply. She gets plates, cloth napkins, stainless steel utensils of all sorts. They have had a roll of plastic wrap for about five years. It must have weighed 40 lbs when bought. She keeps it on a shelf in a pantry. It is not shelf/drawer/counter-friendly. She and all her other prof friends work the cheap, bulk places.

    As for stuck on things on the counter, I plop a sloppy wet dishcloth on it for however long it takes. Remove it occassionally and see what will come of now. Maybe the grout brush will help with the grout.

  12. i was JUST coming to comment about how bad scouring cast iron can be. i clean mine the same way i clean my wok – paper towel, water, and some salt if something is stuck on.

  13. I use a putty knife. Scrapes the seasoning nice and flat… cost $1.50 for two at the dollar store. No soap (or water) needed.

  14. ok. To clean ANY pot or pan, simply fill the pot 3/4 full of water, add some baking soda and heat up til boiling. Put a lid on it, turn it off and let it sit for an hour, with the lid on it. After an hour, everything should come right off, no problem, even burnt on gunk. This works, and with barely any effort beyond wiping the crud off the sides of the pot.

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