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New vs. old cast iron??? Options
jenjoyce
#21 Posted : Thursday, May 11, 2006 10:56:02 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Wow, I thought I was a weirdo cooking only with cast iron, and here on this forum, it''s common practice!

I have a stack of about 5 pans, little to large,(mostly old, well used ones, and a couple old which were never used much and weren''t well seasoned). They sit , stacked, on the back burners of my stovetop. I have experienced most of what has been talked about in this thread, and swear that maintaining the season really pays off. Well seasoned ones clean easily, I just *lightly* scrub in hot water, after a brief soak, then *always* dry over a flame. I have found that if I maintain this habit, the food sticks much less, and the clean up is a cinch. A well seasoned pan is kind of shiny, I''ve noticed, whereas the lesser seasoned have a dull surface.
Every so often, I notice the dull surface, and after heating up on the stovetop to dry, I just wipe it down well with the canola oil I keep on the counter for cooking (because it is least flavorful).

Problem of my own: I also have a cast iron ''dutch oven'', I guess it''s called, which I grew up with (so I guess it would be considered ''old'' [;)] , and it has gotten a layer of carbon on the bottom (is that what you are calling a scorch ring?) and I have had a very difficult time over the years with it. I don''t know how to get rid of the build up, for good ; it''s almost as it wants to be there -- molecularly -- as it comes back, even after cleaning it off, almost always. Soups and stews burn easily on it, which I don''t know if this is the ''chicken, or the egg''. I realize now, writing this post, that i really don''t enjoy using it because of the problem with clean up being exasperating!

Now, I think I will go find PracticalMan''s pan care post...

~jen
jenjoyce
#22 Posted : Thursday, May 11, 2006 11:32:06 PM
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Posts: 134,494
quote:
Originally posted by practicalman45

The surface finish treatment is the main difference. By finish I mean how smooth the iron was made originally at the factory. See my post in the other thread on caring for your iron pans.

Um... I looked, but couldn''t locate it.
NorthCountryWood
#23 Posted : Tuesday, May 16, 2006 9:17:27 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Cliff30acre
#24 Posted : Thursday, July 06, 2006 12:55:23 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Hi Again Cast Iron Cookers/Collectors,

I just found a 10" "Wapak" (no indian logo) iron skillet at a church yard sale last Saturday for $5.00. It was so crusty on the bottom, it looked like tree bark. The name was not visable at all, but the inside bottom cooking surface was very smooth, no pock marks or scratches. It was obviously American made. After carefully scraping I detected evidence of the brand name on the old pan''s bottom. I have several old Griswold, Favorite, Erie and Wagner pots and pans. This is my first Wapak, so I was pretty fired up about my find. Soaking overnight in a lye/water solution made the old frying pan look like new. I''ve started seasoning it by wiping it with bacon grease, heating on the charcoal grill, wiping, regreasing and reheating. (some wood on the fire helps with the blackening) After three cycles I''m ready to cook something. How about some campfire sausage for breakfast?

Garden Lad
#25 Posted : Thursday, July 06, 2006 6:50:58 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Good on you, Cliff. Any 10" skillet, let alone a name brand one, is a bargain at five bucks.

Have you seed what the collectors have done to the price of Griswold? And they just about have a cardiac when you tell ''em you want it to cook in, not hang on the wall.

Incredible!
smurfy
#26 Posted : Friday, July 07, 2006 4:18:22 AM
Rank: Guest

Posts: 134,494
quote:
Originally posted by jenjoyce

Wow, I thought I was a weirdo cooking only with cast iron, and here on this forum, it''s common practice!

I have a stack of about 5 pans, little to large,(mostly old, well used ones, and a couple old which were never used much and weren''t well seasoned). They sit , stacked, on the back burners of my stovetop. I have experienced most of what has been talked about in this thread, and swear that maintaining the season really pays off. Well seasoned ones clean easily, I just *lightly* scrub in hot water, after a brief soak, then *always* dry over a flame. I have found that if I maintain this habit, the food sticks much less, and the clean up is a cinch. A well seasoned pan is kind of shiny, I''ve noticed, whereas the lesser seasoned have a dull surface.
Every so often, I notice the dull surface, and after heating up on the stovetop to dry, I just wipe it down well with the canola oil I keep on the counter for cooking (because it is least flavorful).

Problem of my own: I also have a cast iron ''dutch oven'', I guess it''s called, which I grew up with (so I guess it would be considered ''old'' [;)] , and it has gotten a layer of carbon on the bottom (is that what you are calling a scorch ring?) and I have had a very difficult time over the years with it. I don''t know how to get rid of the build up, for good ; it''s almost as it wants to be there -- molecularly -- as it comes back, even after cleaning it off, almost always. Soups and stews burn easily on it, which I don''t know if this is the ''chicken, or the egg''. I realize now, writing this post, that i really don''t enjoy using it because of the problem with clean up being exasperating!

Now, I think I will go find PracticalMan''s pan care post...

~jen



LOL Jen...no way are you a weirdo. I think more people would use cast iron if they just got past the scare of having to season it!! There''s no better pots and pans to cook in!!!!

I am not sure what causes the carbon release on the bottom of the pans....I don''t think I have ever had a pan that did that, but I know what you''re talking about. When you wipe it, it looks like soot came off the pan?? When NCW talks about the scorch ring, the pan actually forms a ring inside the pan (on the cooking surface) where the food will usually cook unevenly and burn. Maybe someone else can help you out with your pan troubles!!

[:D]
Shawna
Cliff30acre
#27 Posted : Friday, July 07, 2006 12:45:28 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Thanks GL,

Griswold is probably the most collectable and most sought after. All of my different cast iron pots and pans cook as well as any brand name pieces. That is the ones with smooth inside bottom finish and proper seasoning. Collectors can drive up the price all they care to but mine ain''t for sale. They can hang theirs on the wall too, but I cook in mine. What good is something made for cooking if you don''t use it? They just become better seasoned with frequent use. There are still bargains around if you are diligent. $10 is the most I''ve paid for any of my old Griswold and Wagners. (all found at flea markets and yard sales). My old no-name (just made in USA on the bottom) chicken fryer with dome lid is my most versatile. I like the cornbread/corn stick pieces too.

Still bargain hunting!

Cliff





Cliff30acre
#28 Posted : Friday, July 07, 2006 1:02:14 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Hi JenJoyce,

The scorch ring and carbon build up may be from cooking on too hot a fire or using and electric range with your cast iron. I cook slow over a low flame with my cast iron. You can ruin the best seasoned pan''s carefully seasoned finish, then scrape & scrub for a while if you don''t use it properly. Just try one of those new "blackened recipies" over very high heat or forget to check a cook pot of food. If you burn something in that old cast iron, just get to work with your scraper.

Cliff


quote:
Originally posted by smurfy

quote:
Originally posted by jenjoyce

Wow, I thought I was a weirdo cooking only with cast iron, and here on this forum, it''s common practice!

I have a stack of about 5 pans, little to large,(mostly old, well used ones, and a couple old which were never used much and weren''t well seasoned). They sit , stacked, on the back burners of my stovetop. I have experienced most of what has been talked about in this thread, and swear that maintaining the season really pays off. Well seasoned ones clean easily, I just *lightly* scrub in hot water, after a brief soak, then *always* dry over a flame. I have found that if I maintain this habit, the food sticks much less, and the clean up is a cinch. A well seasoned pan is kind of shiny, I''ve noticed, whereas the lesser seasoned have a dull surface.
Every so often, I notice the dull surface, and after heating up on the stovetop to dry, I just wipe it down well with the canola oil I keep on the counter for cooking (because it is least flavorful).

Problem of my own: I also have a cast iron ''dutch oven'', I guess it''s called, which I grew up with (so I guess it would be considered ''old'' [;)] , and it has gotten a layer of carbon on the bottom (is that what you are calling a scorch ring?) and I have had a very difficult time over the years with it. I don''t know how to get rid of the build up, for good ; it''s almost as it wants to be there -- molecularly -- as it comes back, even after cleaning it off, almost always. Soups and stews burn easily on it, which I don''t know if this is the ''chicken, or the egg''. I realize now, writing this post, that i really don''t enjoy using it because of the problem with clean up being exasperating!

Now, I think I will go find PracticalMan''s pan care post...

~jen



LOL Jen...no way are you a weirdo. I think more people would use cast iron if they just got past the scare of having to season it!! There''s no better pots and pans to cook in!!!!

I am not sure what causes the carbon release on the bottom of the pans....I don''t think I have ever had a pan that did that, but I know what you''re talking about. When you wipe it, it looks like soot came off the pan?? When NCW talks about the scorch ring, the pan actually forms a ring inside the pan (on the cooking surface) where the food will usually cook unevenly and burn. Maybe someone else can help you out with your pan troubles!!

[:D]
Shawna

Garden Lad
#29 Posted : Friday, July 07, 2006 8:50:33 PM
Rank: Guest

Posts: 134,494
>My old no-name (just made in USA on the bottom) chicken fryer with dome lid is my most versatile.
There are two kinds of cooks in the world, Cliff: Those who know and appreciate the functionality of a good chicken fryer; and all the other poor unfortunate souls.

The one I like best has no markings at all on it. It came out of an estate and the dealer and I both figure, from some other pieces it was with, that it was made (or at least acquired) sometime in the 1930s. Of the 13 iron pieces I use more or less regularly, it''s my favorite.
smurfy
#30 Posted : Saturday, July 08, 2006 3:35:14 PM
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Posts: 134,494
quote:
Originally posted by Garden Lad

>My old no-name (just made in USA on the bottom) chicken fryer with dome lid is my most versatile.
There are two kinds of cooks in the world, Cliff: Those who know and appreciate the functionality of a good chicken fryer; and all the other poor unfortunate souls.

The one I like best has no markings at all on it. It came out of an estate and the dealer and I both figure, from some other pieces it was with, that it was made (or at least acquired) sometime in the 1930s. Of the 13 iron pieces I use more or less regularly, it''s my favorite.



Believe it or not, I got my chicken fryer at the junkyard! LOL! I have probably 25 pieces of cast iron and got probably 18 of the pieces at our local scrapyard including my chicken fryer, a bean pot, a square 12" pan, many varying sizes of frying pans, and saucepans. All we had to pay was the going rate for scrap! Works for me! LOL!!

[:D]
Shawna
jenjoyce
#31 Posted : Saturday, July 08, 2006 11:49:56 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Thanks for the advice about the carbon build up on my dutch oven. Who knows... oh well, at least the pans I use most, have no problems whatsoever. How surprised I am to see so many strong armed chefs ! [;)]

Anyway, I have a couple of other iron things I really can''t implement very easy ; a really ancient frying pan and a dutch oven with feet, a nice double burner griddle (which I hardly ever use, as my #10 Griswold handles most everything) and those corn cob pans for corn bread. I would like to try using the corn bread pans, I imagine greasing well is in order. I think I''ve only made corn bread once or twice and forgot about them.

Call us Iron Nerds...
Cliff30acre
#32 Posted : Sunday, July 09, 2006 11:09:42 AM
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Posts: 134,494
Hi Jen,

You seem to be pretty well armed yourself with the old iron pots. For nice crispy corn bread coat the corn cob pan with bacon grease and preheat before pouring in the batter. Keep a close eye on the baking time though. It won''t take quite as long to get done.
Garden Lad
#33 Posted : Sunday, July 09, 2006 1:57:51 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Jen, you can use that Dutch oven.

As an aside, the ones with feet (and recessed lids) are true Dutch ovens. The others actually are kettles that are marketed as Dutch ovens.

Anyway, go down to the garden center and get you one of those 16" square pavers. That will act as a hearth. Just set it up wherever you do your grilling.

Dutch ovens heat to 350 degrees (which is one of the reasons so many recipes are done at that temperature, btw). The idea is to heat from both the bottom and the top. But you do not want the bottom coals to actually touch the oven, hence the legs.

Unfortunately, they often do. So you''ll want to use internal trivets when baking.

Anyway, while learning how to use it, it''s best to work with briquettes rather than coals. Once you develop a feel for it, go on to raw charcoal or hardwood coals.

With the briquettes, here''s a trick for developing perfect heat. Take the size number of your oven. For the bottom deduct 3, and use that many briquettes. For the top, add 3.

For instance, if you have a #10 oven, use 7 briquettes on the bottom and 13 on the top.

Again, if baking, use an internal trivet. This both prevents hot spots, and leaves air space under the item for even cooking.

Preheat the oven before adding something that will be baked.

For a really impressive outdoor kitchen, keep in mind that you can stack Dutch ovens. In short, prepare an entire meal in a pyramid of iron.

jenjoyce
#34 Posted : Sunday, July 09, 2006 2:55:04 PM
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Posts: 134,494
GL, thank you for the briquette method, and the tip about the paver ''shelf''. Oh, and about the corn pans, Cliff, I never did preheat them, that was probably the main problem... duh.

Are there any of you who actually do the campfire cooking at home, just for fun, when you can just as well use your kitchen oven? I mean, is there a benefit of doing the old fashioned coal/briquette method with a Dutch oven that you don''t get otherwise, ''cept for novelty''s sake?

GL , I think the lidded pot which I keep on the gas range top , with the burning/carbon problem, isn''t a dutch oven, but just a kettle (?) However, I have an additional antique dutch oven with recessed lid and feet, which I''ve never used (that I happen to use as my onion bin)-- looks like something that once belonged to a chuck wagon. Plus I have this ancient fryer pan with feet (that I wasn''t clear about), handle is kind of flattish, and pointed, with no slot, and quite an elaborate pour spout on the side.

I think I''d like to empty the onions out of my Dutch Oven, and try baking something in it. Sounds kind of backwoods fun.
smurfy
#35 Posted : Sunday, July 09, 2006 3:29:17 PM
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Posts: 134,494
quote:
Originally posted by jenjoyce



Are there any of you who actually do the campfire cooking at home, just for fun, when you can just as well use your kitchen oven? I mean, is there a benefit of doing the old fashioned coal/briquette method with a Dutch oven that you don''t get otherwise, ''cept for novelty''s sake?





We do alot of campfire cooking at home in the summer. It saves on heating up the house! Of all the cast iron I have, I don''t have a dutch oven...go figure! But I cook probably 5 days out of the week outside. We have a little round charcoal grill, and I get it going nice and hot (either with charcoal or with odds and ends wood we have) and start bringing out dinner and popping it on the grill. Usually after dinner we throw a few nice hunks of wood on there and get a little bonfire going [:D] and sit out there when it gets dark. A few of the last pieces I had to clean and reseason (of my cast iron) I''d throw on there after I had a nice bed of coals...cleaned the pans up really nice!

So that''s my benefit...cooking outside and keeping the house cool! Plus it''s fun [:D]

Shawna
Garden Lad
#36 Posted : Sunday, July 09, 2006 4:34:50 PM
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Posts: 134,494
>Plus I have this ancient fryer pan with feet (that I wasn''t clear about)
Ok, Jen, if you want to get technical. If it has legs, it''s called a frying pan. Without legs it''s a skillet.

Long about the time of the War of Northern Aggression, frying pans began to be called "spiders." And they started to be made of steel, rather than iron, and had longer legs.

Kettles originally were all round-bottomed, and had legs. They were to stabalize it, however, not raise it above the ground (think of a witch''s cauldron). Smaller ones were hung from tripods, when cooking outdoors, or cranes when indoors.

In the early 19th century, cast iron cookstoves began getting popular, and flat-bottomed kettles were introduced to be used on them. But the round-bottomed could still be used by removing the burner cover and cooking directly over the flames.

Later on, manufacturers started calling the flat-bottomed kettles "Dutch ovens" to differentiate them from pots, which have handles. Kettles, like Dutch ovens, have bails. Really big ones, the kind used for rendering lard, making apple butter, and doing laundry, had detachable bails that resemble ice hooks.

Tied in with all this is the evolution of labor-saving devices. On the frontier, the fireplace probably had a gin-pole, which momma used to support the cookware that was used directly over the fire (a minimum, actually, as most cooking was done on the hearth, itself---which is why there were so many legged pieces). The first improvement was to retrofit a crane, which, along with trammels and adjustible hooks, made her life easier and exponentially safer. The next improvement, which involved a new house, was a built-in oven as part of the fireplace. Under the oven, particularly in New England, was a hob---which we can discuss if you want, but it isn''t germane. The expression "hob-nobbing" stems from it, however.

When portable cast-iron stoves were invented every woman had to have one. And the rush to labor-saving devices and short-cut appliences has been going on ever since, leading to such abominations as teflon-coated aluminum pans.

What goes around comes around, though. And there''s been a growing return to the old-styles of cookware, and a willingness to scrub a pot if that''s necessary. People are realizing that there are only two rational, and a couple of semi-rational materials for cookware: Cast iron and stainless steel are the rational ones. Carbon steel and ironstone are the semi-rational ones.

All the rest: aluminum (in particular), glass, pyro-saran, etc are going the way of the dodo bird.

Cliff30acre
#37 Posted : Monday, July 10, 2006 3:57:48 PM
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Posts: 134,494
I''m Impressed! You folks are just a wealth of information. I already have/or had a pretty good working knowledge of cast iron cookware, from personal experience as well as reading up on the various topics. I didn''t know you guys, (GL, Smurfy & Jen) and others, were as interested in in that fine culinary art of cooking with cast iron as I am. Thanks, GL, for the history lesson.

I''ll share one of my recipes for Dutch Oven BBQ Pork Spare Ribs. I think it should go in another forum topic, if I can just find it.
Garden Lad
#38 Posted : Monday, July 10, 2006 6:48:37 PM
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Posts: 134,494
I can''t speak for the others, Cliff. But I live in the 18th century as much as this one, and _have_ to know about cast-iron cookery. It''s either that or hold a forked stick over the fire. :>)
NorthCountryWood
#39 Posted : Monday, November 27, 2006 11:30:14 PM
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Posts: 134,494
***Update***

Ok, been using the pans regularly. I''ve got one pan the way it came from Lodge Iron, one that I sanded smooth with 80 grit grinder and another one that I used one of those wire wheel on the angle grinder.

First a note on how I use them- I used butter but switched to olive oil to season. Some say that oil and butter will go rancid, but haven''t had that problem yet and not allowed to use crisco.
I know some don''t wash them, but I do. I wipe them out with a sponge and rinse (no heavy scouring). Then heat and wipe on oil or butter before storing.

The wire wheel smoothed one is the best performing so far. It seasoned quick and has remained the nicest of the bunch. Non-stick and easy to clean.

The one that was smoothed with 80 grit grinder wheel works almost as good. I did notice the season is more fragile on it and everything but eggs work really well in it.

The untouched one has performed the worst, but holds the season well.

The wife and I seem to be using the wire wheel smoothed one more lately, and burned the season off of another one, so the experiment will come to an end. I will treat the rest of the pans to the wire wheel.

Have to say we use them daily and are buying ourselves more for Christmas.
Cliff30acre
#40 Posted : Tuesday, November 28, 2006 5:24:47 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Robert, if you get lucky enough to find an old Griswold skillet that hasn''t been abused to the point where the cooking surface is scratched or pitted, they are the best. I have a few that are very smooth and I keep them seasoned with bacon grease. I''ve had no problem with any showing signs of turning rancid. Olive oil seems to make them a little blacker and shinier. However, I''ve noticed the olive oil leaves the surface a bit sticky. The older skillets (Griswold, Erie, Wagner, Wapak, Favorite, and some others) that are no longer made are the best if you can find them. There are some good "no-name" pieces that are made in USA that can be made smooth too. I''d stay away from the Chinese and Taiwan made pieces. You can still buy new Lodge and they are good too. They are about the only American company still making decent quality cast iron cookware.

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