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Mt_Rider

Whole lotta data about Cast Iron

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Cast Iron cooking is a favorite topic 'round here. I hadn't seen this site before. I agree with most of what is stated. ESPECIALLY the part about the dumb new cast iron cookware that is sold now. Terrible stuff!!!

 

 

Ahem...anyway, take a look, especially if you're still using the modern, non-stick [and mostly disposable] kind of cookware. :sHa_sarcasticlol:

 

 

http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp

 

 

MtRider [ :frying pan: ...the other use for cast iron :lol: ]

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That site is full of great info! Thanks! I have a couple of ones I bought used that I was needing to get rid of the rust and I've been lazy on doing that. :whistling: Guess I had better stop procrastinating!

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I had a neighbor who was about to toss all her cast iron because the mice got into her storage room and peed and pooped all over it. I had to stop her and get her to just set the pots and pans in her wood stove to burn it all off then re-season. She was an intelligent woman, don't know why she thought the pans were ruined because of mice.

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Nice site. I've recently gotten into the cast iron thing and now it is all I use. I picked up a few older pieces from garage sales, but I have no problem with the Lodge. YES it has a poor surface, but I have a complete machine shop at my disposal.

 

I use angle grinders with sanding discs to resurface the whole inside to smooth, then finish with a 3M Scotchbrite disc for a near mirror finish. The old stuff I sandblast to bare metal - I don't care what surface is on it, I want to start from scratch. I also had to mill several opf the handle holes larger to fit over my 1/4" pegs on my hanging rack.

 

The first time I tried to season them was a disaster. Second time I took them outside and put them on the Grill. Heat 'em up and paint with lard. Burn it out and repeat. After that, I just let the dogs clean them, use a bambo scraper for anything they miss and then rinse with water if needed.

 

My main reason for getting them was sanitation in a SHTF scenario. Potable water will be in short supply. Nice to just heat to sanitize and scrape off anything yucky. But now I just enjoy using them. There is just something macho and rustic about using it.

For my quesadillas, I use a 14" flat round on the bottom, then put a 10" on the top to squeeze them together - the weight melts the cheese more uniformly. I also found the 14" flat makes an acceptable lid for my 14" skillet. The regular lid just gets int he way 'cause there's no place to set it down.

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Ah...like a bacon press? Good multifunction! I'll have to see which of my combinations will do that.

 

 

MtRider [...yeah, lifting the heavy things makes anyone feel macho... :lol: But cast iron just goes so well hung up on my log cabin walls ... :happy0203: ]

Edited by Mt_Rider

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I have to agree. I LOVE my cast iron cookware but I do have some newer Lodge pieces that I don't use much because of the rough cooking surface. No matter how much I season them, food still sticks. My biggest problem was finding a good cornbread skillet. There's nothing worse than trying to pry off stuck cornbread! When my great-aunt was being placed in a nursing home her family had an estate auction and I was able to pick up a couple of her cast iron pieces. One was a skillet she only used for cornbread. She used it for over 70 years and it has a very smooth surface inside and out. Now when I make cornbread I just turn the skillet over and it falls right out. And there's nothing better than fried chicken cooked in cast iron! I have my grandmother's old Griswold fryer pan. The lid is also a skillet and the whole thing is mirror smooth. I've never had anything stick and cleanup is a breeze!

 

When we moved 4 years ago I bought new stainless steel appliances for the kitchen. The store had to special order my stove because the new modern stainless steel typically only comes in glass top or with the gas burners and I needed electric. The clerk looked at me like I was from Mars when I told her I cooked with cast iron and couldn't use the glass top surface. She said she didn't think anyone cooked with cast iron anymore.

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My 'hood surplus store sells a whole line of lodge cast iron. Omg videotaped it for my cousin cuz he's injured. I went in/out @ 5xs b4 I was finally reply done at the store.

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For the life of me, I cannot seem to get this cast iron stuff down. I got the the point where I figured something must have been on the walk from the computer to the kitchen, so printed info out - and my cast iron ventures are still failures. I'm currently letting the poor pan just have a break from me :rolleyes:

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Poor Lumabean! Is it a good smooth surface cast iron or a newer coarse surface? That would make all the difference!

 

MtRider [....mebbe we can help with some personal tutoring? ]

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It's not one of those smooth glass-like surfaces. I am not sure of the brand though (did they make generic cast iron? This has no markings other than "Made in teh USA" No,6 and 9 3/8 in)) -- my mother picked this one up for me at an auction sale for a few dollars. Even though it had a paper still attached (it looked to me to be, based on the clothes the gal on the paper was wearing, to be something from the 70's), it needed to be cleaned but I don't think from use (mostly dust and rust from lying around somewhere). I cleaned it up well with salt and a potato, and salt and oil, then followed the directions online for seasoning it. It's difficult to explain - it's not a smooth glassy surface, but it's also not like the cast iron pans I ran my fingers across at Wal-Mart, I think a bit more smooth than the ones I felt at Wal-Mart but no where near being smooth like glass.

 

I wonder if there is hope for it.

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Well, for a simple start, try this.

 

Do you know how to make popcorn on the stove top? Do you have a tight-fitting lid for the pan?

 

In case someone here has only done microwave popcorn...not in a pan...I'll give the details. :) Be careful of handling the HEAVY pans with hot oil! :grouphug:

 

 

 

Pour [not wipe] in enough veg oil to have a good coat on the bottom. Not depth for deep frying tho. Put in 3 kernals of popcorn, cover, and wait. Shake the pan [hang onto the lid and pan handle] back and forth on the stovetop. [tell me you don't have a glass top.. :( ] When you hear all 3 pop..or at least two if you have a dud, you know the oil is hot enough. Put in a tablespoon more of the kernals. From this, you'll be able to tell how much more your pan will hold when popped....but since this is about seasoning instead of snacks, a tablespoon will do.

 

Replace lid and continue shaking the pan/lid back and forth with frequent, jerky shakes. You have to move the kernals. Pretty soon it will sound like a machine gun inside the pan. {Must I say it for someone? DON'T OPEN THE LID! :P } Shake continually then. For a cast iron pan, shut the stove heat off well before the popping dies down. Cast iron holds heat and will get hotter even when you turn the burner off. That has to be anticipated whenever you're cooking with cast iron. ;) Hey, uses less heat energy.

 

As soon as no more has popped, carefully open the lid and pour into a bowl [one that can tolerate very hot kernals]...and watch out for that hot oil. And one more pop...just to startle you. :lol:

 

Return the well oiled pan to the stovetop and let it set there while the burner cools down. When the pan and any leftover oil is cool, pour oil off and wipe out the inside of the pan completely dry with a paper towel. [You can keep that paper towel to touch up the re-seasoning after each washing, btw]

 

OK...now feel the bottom of the pan. Is it getting glassy and black? If the paper towel was sticking to the roughness of the pan, it might take more than this. I can't say for sure...not being able to see the condition of the pan.

 

 

[is the pan grey or black, btw???]

 

Don't try cooking eggs in it till you've got it very well seasoned...which might take some more cooking in it.

 

Stir fry is good. Anything you can cook where the food is already pretty slippery. Just to keep using it and getting more layers on it. Time, rather than technique, is sometimes the answer. :shrug:

 

 

I TOASTED my fry pan recently by forgetting to turn off the burner when I only meant to dry it thoroughly. :cheeky-smiley-067: Obliterated the black and glossy surface. :sad-smiley-012: I do that WAY too frequently. But since my grsons were here watching a video....I made popcorn. Deep fat frying in such a pan is also an excellent way to get a start on that glass surface. But it's more commitment in time. Popcorn is easy!

 

 

MtRider [ :cheer: We're cheering for you! ]

Edited by Mt_Rider

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Thanks :) I am definitely going to pick up some popcorn on the way back from my son's appointment so I can try this tonight.

 

The pan is sort of a light black/dark grey (with a little brown mixed in). I

 

I am determined to get the hang of this (before my pan runs away from home lol)

Edited by lumabean

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I got so mad a few years ago I threw away about 20 cast iron skillets and pots. I just can't get it. They always seem to rust and everything sticks to them. I wish I could figure it out, but I have just given up on it.

I know about seasoning and cleaning and all, but it just never worked for me. sad-smiley-012.gif

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When we moved 4 years ago I bought new stainless steel appliances for the kitchen. The store had to special order my stove because the new modern stainless steel typically only comes in glass top or with the gas burners and I needed electric. The clerk looked at me like I was from Mars when I told her I cooked with cast iron and couldn't use the glass top surface. She said she didn't think anyone cooked with cast iron anymore.

 

I unforntunately only have a glass top stove. It is what I had where I rented and when she went into foreclosure she sold me her appliances rather than have the bank get them. ( before the foreclosure was final of course.) So it is the only stove I have that I can use. Actually my brother had one with a double oven that isn't glasstop, but it won't fit in my place, even though I really would prefer to use it.

 

Anyway, I still use my cast iron on the glass top, but do it very carefully. I don't use them as much though, because of the glass top. They do still work very well in the oven though. I love cast iron. A pain to clean and I have had a hard time convincing my family that you can not put them in with the regular dishes and wash them, but I love using them. Except for the weight. That is my biggest problem, due to arthritis, it is hard to lift them somedays.

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As for lifting, I have several 'lever and fulcrum' techniques for my weak hands and beloved cast iron.

 

MtRider [...whoooo, it IS heavy! ....Note: Do NOT hang cast iron on the rafters or wall above one's head. :frying pan: No...I didn't learn that the hard way. :girlneener: ]

Edited by Mt_Rider
mispelled and was wrong word - oops

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TheCG.....Absolutely! Scrape away! THAT is the secret to scrambled eggs not sticking! Uh, clarification: ....a good FLAT metal spatula and even strokes. Not gouging the 'season', mind you.

 

Kyle'sMom.....if you mean you have a burner element on your propane grill, YES. Cast iron would be fine. It would be fine over the grilling part too but will take some time to get the heat up there mebbe. Once cast iron heats up tho, you need to make sure it doesn't keep getting hotter and hotter. Keep turning down the heat bit by bit as you cook [or: move pan further from propane flame of grill]. Cast iron retains heat much more evenly. [see below for the soot factor] And of course, use hot mitts on the handles.

 

=============================

 

Speaking of alternatives to our stovetops: :campfire:

 

 

Lets say we're camping and plan to use the campfire. Cast iron is great! But...there is one clean-up problem. The nasty black soot all over the outside. You can use a bit of dishwashing soap - rub on a thin bit to coat the pan BEFORE you set it over the flames or coals. [it works with any pots/pans] Then when you're packing to go home, it cleans up in warm water pretty easily.

 

Another thing I do is bring a large plastic bag and shove sooty pan in there until I get home from camping. It's easier to produce hot water to clean the soot at home.

 

 

Now say.....we aren't camping but are forced to use campfires to cook. [think: :smiley_shitfan: ] OK...as GP mentioned above, cast iron can be cleaned by heating the pan until the food is baked off. VERY important point if you must save water. If we're short of water or have to use energy [aka: calories] hauling water, this is gonna be a deal breaker in survival!!!

 

But what to do about the sooty outside? This is where my packrat self decides to repurpose any larger plastic bags I get my hands on. I once kept a camping fry pan [just didn't ever bother to clean the soot cuz it was only used while camping] in a large fiber-type postal envelope. Some of them are really tear-resistant but flexible! I like it better than plastic bag. [tho I reuse the large bags that package many 4-roll packets of TP, and such. Just have to open them carefully]

 

Anyway....I made sure the inside cooking surface was clean, then slide it into that envelope and twist-tie it shut. LESS WORK and LESS WATER = SAVED CALORIES. [in survival, calories are our FRIENDS! :hug3: ]

 

 

This applies to the dutch ovens as well.

 

Ahem....you DO want to be careful handling campware that always has a sooty bottom. It's ridiculously easy to carelessly get a dark smudge on your hands and transfer that to anywhere...like the end of your nose. :cheeky-smiley-067:

 

 

 

 

MtRider [....taking cast iron use out of our kitchens-as-we-know-them-currently. :thumbs: ]

Edited by Mt_Rider
clarity, boo-boos, typos...sigh

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Cast iron is not really made for fat free cooking. Always use plenty of fat and lard is the best. Veggie oil has a tendency to make a sticky coating, but lard won't do that. The seasoning of cast iron goes into the pores as well as on the surface. I like to season by making corn bread in the oven. Get the oven at 400*, heat the skillet on top of the stove with lots of bacon grease or lard, pour in your batter, pop into hot oven and bake until knife blade comes out clean and top is lightly brown and slightly cracked.

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Thanks for posting! Ya'll (nope not Southern, but sometimes ya'll is the word!).....Ya'll convinced me to dig out my grandma's cast iron skillet! I made bacon and shredded potatoes in it yesterday morning! It must be well seasoned, because even after the bacon grease was all soaked up those potatoes did not stick! It's very black and shiney!

 

Now, I'm thinking I need to find a bigger skillet! It's a 10 5/8". There are 5 of us at home and it took me over an hour to cook a pound of bacon and 2 pounds of potatoes! I have a dutch oven somewhere too, but I'm not finding it. Oh, where, oh, where...:whistling:

 

@ Gunplumber. I told my husband how you "fixed" your lodge cookware. He just recently sandblasted some old griddles for the game warden, so he's familiar with the concept and has access to the tools. Is it really worth it, or should we look for more old pieces? A local store is going out of business and has some pieces in their camping section. I didn't see the "Lodge" name on them, but I felt them, and they were rough.

 

 

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I originally thought I should get the old stuff, but I got impatient so I bought some Lodge. It took me about an hour each starting with some #60 sanding discs and then coarse and medium 3m ScotchBrite.

 

So if you can find old stuff cheap, that might make more sense. But like I said, I got tired of looking and Walmart had the Lodge on sale. What is your labor worth?

Edited by Gunplumber

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I have to agree. I LOVE my cast iron cookware but I do have some newer Lodge pieces that I don't use much because of the rough cooking surface. No matter how much I season them, food still sticks. My biggest problem was finding a good cornbread skillet. There's nothing worse than trying to pry off stuck cornbread! When my great-aunt was being placed in a nursing home her family had an estate auction and I was able to pick up a couple of her cast iron pieces. One was a skillet she only used for cornbread. She used it for over 70 years and it has a very smooth surface inside and out. Now when I make cornbread I just turn the skillet over and it falls right out. And there's nothing better than fried chicken cooked in cast iron! I have my grandmother's old Griswold fryer pan. The lid is also a skillet and the whole thing is mirror smooth. I've never had anything stick and cleanup is a breeze!

 

When we moved 4 years ago I bought new stainless steel appliances for the kitchen. The store had to special order my stove because the new modern stainless steel typically only comes in glass top or with the gas burners and I needed electric. The clerk looked at me like I was from Mars when I told her I cooked with cast iron and couldn't use the glass top surface. She said she didn't think anyone cooked with cast iron anymore.

 

I also love my cast iron cookware...skillets & bean pot. Still looking around for some sauce-type pans though. I may be a "geek" but when I start to cook, I heat the skillet first on a higher setting to get it started. I then put in a small amount of shortening that's enough to melt across the entire bottom of the pan. I turn the skillet down (medium is high!) and sprinkle a small amount of table salt across the bottom. Then I add my food...even eggs. They don't stick. Sometimes food just inheritantly do stick by nature, so when I'm done cooking I let the pan cool, and then I pour in enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. When it's boiling I use a metal spatula to remove anything stuck. When it's loose, I dump contents into an old metal can, and then run it under my HOT WATER on my sink, using a teflon pad to gently wash. This also what I do when foods don't stick, I rinse and place back on the burner. I wipe a small amount of shortning on it with a paper towel and keep the temp low (don't want the shortning to burn). Keep adding shortning and wiping down until your surface is shiny black again, and the paper towel is clear. Then I let it cool down in my oven. Sounds like alot of work, but my cast iron works awfully good for me. :happy0203:

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I found it! :darlenedance: I found my dutch oven! It was driving me crazy last night. Dd#2 was convinced it wasn't here, cause she'd never seen it. Someone thought I took it to the Goodwill. Um, I was sure not, for one think it was probably antique so Hubby wouldn't have let that fly, and for two, well I just wouldn't as I was sure it had been grandma's and I had always intended to use it for chili while camping. My house is pretty clutter-free, so I was really stumped. I had 2 thoughts left, either under the bed in the camper, which I can't get into very well by myself, or behind some stuff in Hubby's workshop. He said it wasn't in the 10 gallon bucket behind the saw that had his cast iron and wood desk in pieces in it. So, he left for work and I went diving! Yup in the bottom of the bucket!

 

Apparently the thing is worth a few shiney pennies! It is a Griswold No. 8 Tite-top Dutch Oven Erie, PA. U.S.A. Feb. 10, 1920. Really good shape and nicely seasoned! Talked to Mom and she said it had not been Grandmas, but that Grandpa had bought it at a sale after he and Grandma divorced in 1960 something.

 

I cleaned it up last night and have a roast tucked with onions in it right now! Mom said it made good roast, so we shall see!

 

Lumabean, Your skillet sounds like mine. (I also thought that had been Grandmas). My mom bought it "at the store" in 1971. The only markings it has is "Made in USA No. 8 10 5/8 in". It is rough on the outside, but the inside has a nice glassy finish. It was the only "fry pan" Mom had when they married, so it was well used, thus the glassy finish. Even after she bought newer style cookware she still used it for gravy. She has another that she kept, but dug it out last night to give to me. It was made in Tiawan and she has no idea where she got it! LOL

 

I was so impressed with my shredded potatoes not sticking that I'm going to keep using them! Hubby is going to take me to an auction Tuesday that has several pieces. They looked a little rough in the pictures so maybe we can pick them up cheap. :pray: (that's a please, please, please, please)

 

I love hearing all the tips!

 

~She :wave:

Edited by homeschoolshe

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Question:

If I take my meat straight from the freezer and put in the oven in cast iron, will the pan break like glass does? I usually toss frozen meat in the electric roaster, because I have broken glass, not with frozen food, but when the pan had been in the fridge. (I still do the fridge thing, but never pre-heat the oven).

 

And, yes, I know straight from freezer to pan is not recommended, but I'm not always organized enough.

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Cast iron can break but not nearly as brittle as glass. I seriously doubt you'd have any trouble especially if you do not preheat. Just pop the thing in and turn on the oven.

 

Griswold!!!! :woohoo: That's a treasure. I got a Griswold fry pan from garage sale/Goodwill and thot I'd won a lottery! :D

 

Cast iron is not really made for fat free cooking. Always use plenty of fat and lard is the best. Veggie oil has a tendency to make a sticky coating, but lard won't do that. ...
Just caught this. Yeah, CGA...I never use veg oil when I'm doing ordinary seasoning or wiping a hot pan after washing it. A thin coat seems to make that sticky mess. But this popcorn method doesn't seem to do that at all. Comes out really shiny. You do have to wipe out the excess oil! Wipe it dry with paper towel, in fact! I think that would be key. Good point for clarification! I'd hate to have Lumabean try this and fail again... :(

 

MtRider :pc_coffee:

Edited by Mt_Rider

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