Author Topic: How clean is clean enough with steel?  (Read 1779 times)

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Offline McCoy

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How clean is clean enough with steel?
« on: April 22, 2013, 11:16:06 PM »
I imagine people are getting sick of this question around here. I've read many a post on this forum about steel plates and bought myself a 1/4" thick plate last weekend. I'm hoping to use it Wednesday for a bake and have been washing it with soap and water and rubbing it down dry with paper towels. There's no visible rust, and the amount of greasy/sooty junk coming off has dramatically reduced, but if I rub the surface with a paper towel applying moderate pressure, there is noticeable dark material coming off of the plate.

I've read many times here that mill scale does not need to be removed for safety, but have also read a lot of conflicting recommendations about cleaning practices (soap and water, sanding, vinegar/acid baths, etc.) as well as removal of mill scale. I'm not looking to remove the scale if I can avoid it, but I would like to not have particulates coming off of the plate, as I know it would freak out my girlfriend.

Just how clean is clean enough? How much time have people had to put into getting their plates clean enough? I've probably scrubbed this one with paper towels for a total of an hour and a half or more of actual contact and spent another hour of contact with it under soap and water.
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Offline Jet_deck

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2013, 09:42:00 AM »
Water is an enemy of steel (rust).  Get some kind of oil (Pam, lard, bacon grease, Crisco, olive) and get the steel pores full of oil and not water.  I see no mill scale on your steel plate. Get it warm in the oven with the oil coat and let it cool, repeat.  If your worried that the oil will drip in the oven, put the plate on the top rack and a piece of aluminum foil on the second rack.  Never wash it with water again.

My $.02, ymmv.
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Offline McCoy

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2013, 10:42:32 AM »
It is my understanding that the mill scale is the dark blueish surface on the plate. There are a few minor scratches on the surface where you can see a more silver/white metal underneath. Also along the sides you can see there is a light layer of metal with a layer of dark blue on either surface. If I'm mistaken and this is not what mill scale looks like, could you describe to me what mill scale does look like? Perhaps provide an image (Google image search is surprisingly unhelpful here)?

Also, I know I've seen you and Scott disagree about this, but it is also my understanding that there is little point to coating the plate in oil because the smoke point of any cooking oil is below the 550 degrees that I will be baking at.

Like I said, it's been difficult to decide what to do, because it seems like a lot of people who really know their stuff say that it's right to do this or that, but these things are in conflict.
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Offline henkverhaar

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2013, 12:21:56 PM »
I cleaned my steel plate with white spirit, then seasoned it with peanut oil. That's it.

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2013, 02:56:09 PM »
....Perhaps provide an image .....
....because the smoke point of any cooking oil is below the 550 degrees that I will be baking at.....


You can look at many definitions of mill scale.  Generally, to me, it is a scale on top of the surface and usually is flaky.

I don't dissagree about the smoke point.  You every fry anything to hot and the oil starts smoking?  It can smoke all it wants but some of the oil does remain.  The remaining oil is what you want in the pores of the steel, protecting it from moisture.
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Offline McCoy

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2013, 03:46:48 PM »
Thanks for the photo; that's very helpful. I'll probably continue to think about the oil. Even if my plate doesn't have a scale on it per se, I am pretty confident that that outer layer is oxide, and so rust is a minimal risk at this point. At some point I may change my mind, but currently I'm inclined to try to avoid smoking or smells that may result from the oil. I've already set off the smoke alarm a few too many times from sloppy transfers from the peel. If it starts to rust I suppose I could always hit it with some vinegar and apply oil at that stage.
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Offline Jet_deck

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2013, 04:00:21 PM »
I think that is a good plan.  As long as nothing is flaking off, or there is no visable rust, and it is clean I wouldn't worry about it, until something changes.  Many more unhealthy things we do everday (or once a week) than this, I'm sure.... :-D
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2013, 04:33:21 PM »
McCoy,
That is a very nice looking piece of steel you have there. And I doubt that you could ever rub that hard with a paper towel and not have it come up with a bit of dark smear on it(no matter how many times you wash it with soap). What you are seeing on the towel is just uncoated raw metal being metal. I would simply rub it with a green Scotch Bright pad an vinegar, wipe that off and lightly rub in some veg. oil and put that baby to work.  ;)  That piece you have there is sweeet man! 

Bob
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Offline JD

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2013, 04:40:56 PM »
I'm generally not a clean freak, but I had the same concerns you did about my plate never getting clean. Call me paranoid, whatever. I have a grinder so I took off the scale, sanded it with sandpaper, cleaned it with vinegar and immediately put it into an oven to remove any moisture. It's been shiny ever since & I can sleep at night.
Josh

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2013, 04:51:13 PM »
I'm generally not a clean freak, but I had the same concerns you did about my plate never getting clean. Call me paranoid, whatever. I have a grinder so I took off the scale, sanded it with sandpaper, cleaned it with vinegar and immediately put it into an oven to remove any moisture. It's been shiny ever since & I can sleep at night.
I wouldn't touch McCoy's piece with a grinder. Maybe a belt sander with some 150-220 grit on there if you really wanted it to shine like new money. But then you gonna have to season it pretty good.
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Offline corkd

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2013, 05:27:02 PM »
mine was pristine when i bought it; this is how it looks after maybe 15 bakes...

Offline McCoy

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2013, 07:09:06 PM »
mine was pristine when i bought it; this is how it looks after maybe 15 bakes...

Looks similar to my quarry tiles. Fortunately I'm not really concerned about things getting ugly once I start baking (except for rust). I just don't want to be serving my friends and girlfriend anything hazardous.
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Offline McCoy

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2013, 12:11:37 AM »
Here's how it went tonight. It took me awhile to figure out the balance between the broiler and the steel. Things look pretty good, but I definitely felt there was too much flour on the dough (as you can probably tell from some of the shots). Unfortunately I'm not sure that bakes this short are quite to my taste, as I prefer a bit more crispiness to the crust.  Pies were coming out of the oven in about 4 to 6 minutes (whether they were done or not is a matter of debate). It is possible that excess floppiness is a artifact of my dough stretching abilities. It is hard for me to get a uniform stretch across the dough, so some areas get very very thin. As a note, though it's not my habit, I didn't make a sauce tonight and simply used tomatos that I diced to about 1/8".
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Offline corkd

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2013, 08:26:15 AM »
Nice job!

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2013, 12:04:54 PM »
Looks great for your first bake McCoy.  :chef:
Dough formula can be changed to make it as crisp as you want it. Also, just opening/shaping your skin can change texture around from what you got out of those skins.

Bob
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Offline mkevenson

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2013, 12:59:26 PM »
Those pies look good to me. The crumb structure is open and airy. The color of the crust is nice. It appears to me that the tomatoes could use a bit longer cook time.
Did you heat the steel to your ovens max temp? If you want a bit more crispiness you could adjust your dough ingredients as Bob mentioned, you could also bake at a little lower temp and a little longer.
Mark
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Offline Jet_deck

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2013, 04:57:14 PM »
you could also bake at a little lower temp and a little longer.
Mark

+1

Also probably the diced tomato added alot of moisture (read wetness) to the finished pizza. Maybe you like it that way, but I don't care for it exactly.  That easily could have caused the done/not done debate.  Keep up the good pizza work. :chef:
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Offline JD

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2013, 09:18:00 PM »
Those pies look good to me. The crumb structure is open and airy. The color of the crust is nice. It appears to me that the tomatoes could use a bit longer cook time.
Did you heat the steel to your ovens max temp? If you want a bit more crispiness you could adjust your dough ingredients as Bob mentioned, you could also bake at a little lower temp and a little longer.
Mark
+1

Also probably the diced tomato added alot of moisture (read wetness) to the finished pizza. Maybe you like it that way, but I don't care for it exactly.  That easily could have caused the done/not done debate.  Keep up the good pizza work. :chef:

+2

I bake 8 min on steel at 450 with the last three minutes under the broiler.
Josh

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2013, 09:34:29 PM »
+2

I bake 8 min on steel at 450 with the last three minutes under the broiler.
What thickness of plate do you work with JD?
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Offline JD

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Re: How clean is clean enough with steel?
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2013, 09:46:52 PM »
What thickness of plate do you work with JD?

The Scott special... 1/2"
Josh


 

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