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Best Cast Iron Skillet?

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Hey all I am buying my mom a cast iron skillet for Mother's Day and wanted to know who makes the best for aorund $50 max. I see Emeril and Paula Deen both have cast iron skillets... are these any good? Food network.com is seeling Paula's for 50- $20 mail in rebate so basically $30 and it is pre seasoned. Emeril's is also around $30.. so price is same what about quality? Or should I go with something else instead.

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  1. A lot of people swear by Lodge. I have my grandmother's which are Griswold, and they seem to be holding up just fine (and apparently are collectibles - who knew?).

    22 Replies
    1. re: leek

      I bought a 10" and 12" skillet at Sears back in the mid eighties when I ws in college. They were VERY cheap. They say simply "Classic" on the bottom. They are now well seasoned and work wonderfully. The 10" has a semi-permanent home on my cooktop. It's what I always use to make grilled cheese sandwiches, among other things.

      You don't need to spend alot of money on a cast iron pan. The technology is very basic. Just make sure that the pans are THICK. I've seen quite a few very thin cast iron pans and they don't hold heat as well.

      Lodge is a good brand but realistically they are the All Clad of the cast iron world. A 12" Lodge cast iron skillet runs about $30 at Amazon. The Bayou Classic skillet in the same size is about $13 at Amazon. In fact, you can get a set of three Bayou Classic skillets for about $40 there. Don't let the 'pre-seasoned' BS fool you. You still need to season the Lodge cookware or cook with it for quite awhile before it gets the nice smooth patina of a well seasoned pan. My Lodge 'pre-seasoned' cook top griddle was simply coated in oil. Everything still sticks to it. That's not 'seasoned'. My 10" skillet is like teflon--the center is smooth as glass from more than 20 years of use.

      1. re: meadandale

        Just thinking this through. If she already is a cast iron user, I would hit the antique shops and flea markets and try to find an old Griswold or Wagner skillet (caveat emptor.)

        If your mom doesn't already use cast iron, I think I would look at the Lodge enamelled. It looks awesome (nice bright colors: blue, red, green and brown) and it is easy to care for -- no fooling around with seasoning and the like.

        Target has on sale for $35-40 on their website.

        http://www.target.com/Enamel-Coated-C...

        Also make sure you get a handle cover or four -- the handles on cast iron get hot. I think that everyone forgets this...ONCE!

        If buying plain/pre-seasoned cast iron, you don't have to get Lodge to get a good quality piece. That said, there is a lot of junk out there, and buying Lodge sidesteps the quality issue. Cast iron is so cheap, the premium for Lodge is really not a big deal.

        The pre-seasoning is really a good thing...I don't miss having to scrub the wax off and then smoking up the whole house. Still takes a bit of use before ready to take on an egg or hash browns.

        1. re: meadandale

          Amazon's prices are usually good, but they're out of line on this one. Wal-Mart sells the Lodge 12" pre-seasoned skillet for about $19, and I it at Target last weekend for $20. I agree that the pre-seasoning is basically BS, but I haven't had any complaints about mine, given that I didn't expect it to behave like a pan that had been seasoned through actual use.

          1. re: Miss Priss

            The Kroger store near me also sells Lodge cast iron, rather cheaply. About the same price as the Walmart that is near me.
            I don't have much experiance with any cast iron (except for some very old, unidentified cast iron that I have) but Lodge. I like Lodge so I just keep buying that if I need a piece of cast iron. That would be bare cast iron. My enalmeld cast iron is Le Creuset.

          2. re: meadandale

            steakrules: Meadandale's post makes the most sense (except of course mine below). LOL. I cook with cast iron almost exclusively.

            1. re: Ambimom

              Wow, lots of really bad information here.

              Griswold and Wagner as mentioned by many, are the best. But any piece that is 60+ years old is probably going to be great. EBay is really the best place to find any type of old cast iron, there is a lot of it there.

              Lodge is junk. Compare the casting quality of it to real vintage iron, and it looks like a 4 year old made it. It's incredibly rough, way too heavy, and made with recycled iron contaminated with plastics, metals other than iron, and god knows what else.

              Contrary to what is said below heavier is not better with cast iron. The thinner the cast the more skilled the caster. With cast iron even a "thin" cast has a ton of thermal mass between you and the burner. Only difference is with a 1/2 inch thick Lodge skillet you sit there all day waiting for it to heat up or cool down.

              Also no cast iron is forged, that's why it's called cast iron. Cast, forged. Two different things.

              The only modern cast iron that you should consider buying is a Mineral B Element Pan made by De Buyer in France. They are on Amazon though. Made from real virgin ore not recycled engine blocks.

              Summation: Only the French make good cast iron anymore.

              1. re: JayJayMack

                Most of the Chinese cast iron woks I've seen for sale here are really thin and I understand they're even more brittle than western cast iron so maybe thinner isn't always better. I have one Mineral B Element pan but I tend to think of both Mineral lines as dB's "take" on cast iron rather than cast iron per se. I think they're still considered carbon steel; they're mostly iron, so I don't think they contain enough alloy to qualify as proper CI (even seasoned, my pan doesn't put me in mind of any CI I own or have seen). You're right, though, that they're terrific pans.

                1. re: JayJayMack

                  De Buyer "Mineral" pans are not cast iron, they are steel.

                  I agree about Lodge being rough. I saw one in a store awhile back and was surprised at the poor finish of the interior surface. My point of reference is a Griswold in my mother's kitchen which I think has not been used in about 40 years (and probably not much before that). That's the one I want.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    They are indeed steel and (scroll down)...............

                  2. re: JayJayMack

                    Have to vehemently disagree about your assertion that recycled iron and steel are inferior. Metallurgy has advanced tremendously in the last half century...a foundry like Lodge most likely has very stringent quality control and assurance. That Griswold was able to produce excellent castings back in the days when metallurgy was basically a black art is a testament to the workers. Not sure where you found your half-inch thick Lodge...pretty sure my skillets are nowhere near that thick. (Chinese-made Emeril cast iron, though, could very well be that thick...that stuff is really heavy).

                    1. re: JayJayMack

                      Thanks so much for the info. I just ended a love affair with a cast iron skillet I bought 40+ years ago by melting the plastic handle of the spatula all down the side. I am shopping for a new skillet to season myself. Your info is helpful about the materials used. I will shop for De Buyer.

                      1. re: c_edwards

                        De Buyer Mineral pans are very good.

                        However, why are you giving up your love affair with that 40+ year old skillet? Put it through the self clean cycle in your oven, re-season, and continue the love affair.

                      2. re: JayJayMack

                        DeBuyer Mineral B are not cast iron, they are stamped carbon steel! Lodge iron is not contaminated. At the temps it takes to cast the iron any "plastics" are vaporized. Lodge is good cookware "IF" you know how to use it!!!

                        1. re: hamnhock

                          THANK YOU. The Mineral line is dB's "take" on CI and as you stated, it's not cast. As far as "roughness" goes, my only CI pieces that didn't start out rough (and still are, a bit) are the Griswolds--glassy CI was, after almost 60 years of being exposed to CI cookware, a novelty. People are cogitating on this 'way too much. CI is "homely" cookware that was developed to perform for a long time and stand up to abuse. ALL of my CI, varying in age from 40 to 100+ years, looks crude, none of it, regardless of heft, takes all day to heat, including on my beyond-crummy range.

                          I can only imagine the reactions of our settler antecedents if they could read this thread (assuming they had the time).

                          1. re: hamnhock

                            My Lodge skillet is getting smoother everyday. I just keep building up a carbon coating that fills the pits. Soon it will be like glass....

                      3. re: meadandale

                        I see them at T-J Max all the time for ~$15, if you have one close by.

                        1. re: jahimbo

                          I just bought a Lodge @ Target for $20. It is a 7.5 LB. 12" cast iron skillet. It came pre-seasoned, but I used LARD (pork Fat) to enhance it. Just heat on high until lard is smoking. Better open the windows, because I set my central fire alarm off 5:50am in the morning on that day twice! LOLOLOL

                          I would never spend $100's on a piece of cookware that I would use for cooking.

                          Only difference between today's CI and CI of old is the texture. Today's is a little more rough. But with enough carbon build up through use.... It will end up glass smooth in no time. Plus the Lodge has two handles instead of one.

                          Nothing beats cast iron for cooking food....

                          I

                          1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                            I have to respectfully disagree. In addition to surface smoothness, my very old Griswolds are much lighter in weight than my newer (but still old and rougher) skillets. They're quite easy to handle for cast iron.

                            1. re: MacGuffin

                              Wish I owned some nice Griswolds due to the weight difference.

                              I have used them and totally agree there is a big difference in weight. These lighter skillets will be more responsive to heat. Less thermal mass so depending on what you're use to using some adjustment in heat settings and times are warranted.

                              I will say that today's CI skillets like Lodge which are heavier and rougher are fine and will perform well and you don't need to seek out the old pans which are crazy expensive on ebay

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                I bought my Griswolds quite awhile before people started posting about their virtues on sites like Chowhound, driving the prices to ridiculous heights; I didn't pay very much for mine and they're both well over 100 years old. Keep your eyes open and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you--I've picked up some slammin' deals on eBay, e.g. this http://www.orvis.com/store/product.as... on eBay.uk some years back for ~$30 with shipping to my friend's London address (men's 36, fits fine). The exact same coat in very distressed condition had sold for about 3X that just a few hours before. And just last month I FINALLY found a copy of Madame Romaine de Lyon's The Art of Cooking Omelettes for <$15 with shipping; I'd wanted it for years and online retailing geniuses usually don't list it for <$80 and usually much more. Trust me, miracles can happen. :)

                              2. re: MacGuffin

                                That is fine, but the heavier weight does not bother me and it will not warp as easy as the Griswolds. I find many of the old ones wobble.

                                1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                  Gee, then I guess I'm just lucky because mine are perfectly flat and aren't warped in the least. And I didn't suggest that weight was an issue; you claimed the only difference was superficial to which I responded with a different difference. It wasn't an attempt at one-upmanship.

                      4. Camp Chef.

                        'nuff said.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ThreeGigs

                          They have a awesome 16" Reversible Griddle I am pinching to buy (but must wait 'til later). Camp Chef offerings seem to be a bit more expansive than Lodge.

                        2. MikeB3542 has it exactly right. My mother had a Griswold "spider" (she called it) frypan when I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, and used it all the time. When our family needed one in 1980, I purchased a new Lodge griddle, read up on how to season it, and did everything I was "supposed" to do for 29 years, and the dang thing never got "right" the way my mother's old skillet was. So -- finally, and none too soon -- three months ago, I went on eBay, searched on the search terms Griswold and Erie, and scored a #9 skillet for all of $16, including shipping. Cut to the chase: the circa 1940 Griswold is simply WONDERFUL. As a result, the Lodge, underperformer for 29 years, has been banished from our household.

                          There is a lot of Griswold cast iron offered on eBay. There are three things to know when selecting items for bidding: (1) there are some Griswold items that are "collectibles," and collectors will bid the prices out of sight: avoid those, because they don't cook any better, they just have value as antiques; (2) a few years after Wagner of Sidney, Ohio, went out of business, the company that had acquired Wagner's assets acquired Griswold also, shut down the Griswold production in Erie, PA, and shifted production to Sidney: all "real" Griswold has the word "Erie" on the underside; (3) the magic words describing condition are "sits flat": if the eBay listing does not say "sits flat," pass on the listing and look for another one.

                          However, if yiou are skittish about purchasing used cookware, you might look into this skillet, http://naturalimport.com/inc/sdetail/... from the Nambu (now Morioka) area of Japan, where they have been perfecting their cast iron skills for about four centuries, and have got it very right; it is not merely cast, it is also forged.

                          37 Replies
                          1. re: Politeness

                            I agree 100% with the above poster. I love cast iron cookware, both enameled and raw: and for me there is no skillet like a Griswold skillet. They're perfection. Just follow the tips already posted since you're buying to cook with, not to be displayed as an antique.

                            1. re: Politeness

                              Politeness, what do you mean by forged, and not merely cast? As I understand it, those two terms indicate necessarily separate methods of construction.

                              Do you mean that it was, like the Griswolds, machined for smoothness of interior? You clearly know your stuff, I was just wondering what distinguishes this particular pan.

                              1. re: dfmickley

                                dfmickley, Close your eyes and conjure the image of the village smithy standing under the spreading chestnut tree. http://longfellow.wayside.org/pdf/Vil... The smithy has a hammer in his hand that pounds the red-hot iron that he has pulled from the fire and placed atop an anvil; he is FORGING the iron to make it stronger as he also shapes it. Forging is an additional step, not inconsistent with casting, but enhancing it.

                                Most cast iron cookware is simply pulled from the hot furnace, and after it has cooled a bit, its sand mold is broken off and the cast iron's rough burrs may be ground off before sending it off for sale. A forged item is subjected to beating, probably in a punch and die, to shape and strengthen the metal. Speculating now, for cookware, possible benefits might be to reduce porosity to allow a thinner profile without losing structural integrity and for more uniform density throughout the piece for more even distribution of heat.

                                1. re: Politeness

                                  Politeness, I appreciate the explanation. I am mostly a Cooks Illustrated lemming, but you have tweaked the inner cookware fiend that lurks within me. Also, after a brief time imagining the craftsman, in a zen-like state honing his product and his art, under a golden sun, the light refracting upon endless fields of rice - well, I was transported, lulled, and then promptly passed out, and got a good nap in. Thanks for both.

                                  I looked at your other posts and you support three different foreign-made cast iron companies, with particular adherence to a tempura pot. I'd like to ask you two minimizing, distinctly American questions:

                                  1. Prior to reading your posts, I was going to buy two skillets: a pre-seasoned lodge 10" and 12". I have a demeyere saute pan and saucier already, and with those four items, plus an eventual enameled CI dutch oven, I was ready to feel all secure and giddy to gallivant about the cookery world. But you have, as earlier stated, sunk my cast iron battleship.

                                  If you were to purchase a 10" and 12" skillet from one of your sources, which would they be, and why?

                                  2. What do you use that tempura pan for? Why do you love it so?

                                  I will add that I harbor pacifistic tendencies and you can tantalize at will with no fear of armed robbery.

                                  1. re: dfmickley

                                    My goodness. I have just realized that I bought my Demeyere saucier on your recommendation over on Egullet about a year ago.

                                    Do you have an open position for an apprenticeship, cooking sensei?

                                    1. re: dfmickley

                                      dfmickley: "I have just realized that I bought my Demeyere saucier on your recommendation over on Egullet about a year ago.."

                                      You're telling me that I have a doppelganger?

                                      1. re: Politeness

                                        An error, then. A year ago, I went through a which-copper-core odyssey, and found myself reading that 40 page cookware monstrosity on Egullet, which convinced me to go with Demeyere. Someone wrote with extraordinary knowledge and facility about heat transference and mentioned that the saucier was their most-used pan, and after reading one of your posts here on Chow about the Fournier effect , and a mention of saucier love, I assumed you were the same person.

                                        Bear in mind that this revelation came through the vague haze of last year's memories, during which I have exposed myself to endless vices, carcinogenically likely flakings from my nonstick egg skillet, and the repressed 11th grade physics memories unleashed by this recent exposure to scientific jargon, all of which have left me in a state of perpetual stupor.

                                    2. re: dfmickley

                                      dfmickley, I wish I could bottle your writing style and market it as a cure for the blues; great stuff.

                                      We both own a Demeyere saucier -- we use ours probably as much as any pot in our kitchen -- so we share something in common.

                                      Our Iwachu Nambutetsu tempura pot gets very diverse uses. Unsurprisingly, my spouse makes tempura in it. Full disclosure requires that I inform you that we more often make tempura in the lower part of our Copco (Morsø) Michael Lax enameled cast iron Dutch oven. For my part, I love to make Dutch babies (German soufflé pancakes), and there simply is no better instrument in the world for the making of a Dutch baby than the Iwachu tempura pot. We also use the Iwachu tempura pot for various stews, and, occasionally, to braise a steak. It has an indestructible mirror-smooth inner surface that from the beginning was as nonstick as any seasoned cast iron. I do not know if I would call it "preseasoned," because the process to bring it to that state may have differed from traditional cast iron seasoning, but it always has been nonstick with excellent release of anything cooked on/in it. We also have a smaller edition of a Nambutetsu nabe, a little over half the size of the tempura pot, that has perfect proportions; you can see its underside (not its best angle) here: http://www.chow.com/photos/318813. It is an aesthetic marvel.

                                      My assumption is that the Iwachu walled skillet would have similar even heating and nonstick qualities, and, were it not that we have a surfeit of skillets, I would consider the Iwachu Nambutetsu skillet at the very top of my list for skillet acquisition.

                                      If, as you have written, you have read my other posts here, then you know that early in 2009, we ditched a Lodge "flat" (no side walls, only a lip) cast iron skillet that never got right in 29 years in favor of a Griswold Erie flat #9 skillet that we purchased via eBay. We do not regret that exchange for one minute. The circa 1940 Griswold is orders of magnitude superior to the circa 1980 Lodge. (The 1980 Lodge we gave to close friends for whom it was an upgrade from a steel skillet; they, too, feel as if they have upgraded significantly.) We use the Griswold to fry eggs; to scramble eggs, we use a small (about 8") enameled cast iron Copco Michael Lax frying pan, because we simply prefer the taste of scrambled eggs that have been made in butter, and the curved sides of the small enameled frying pan keep the butter under the eggs as they are being cooked.

                                      1. re: Politeness

                                        Well, stupor or no stupor, you've hooked me. Superior cooking qualities aside, I like the notion of supporting a fading artisanal breed. I spent some months in Tokyo and admired and was inspired by the lifelong adherence to craft-as-art that I was lucky enough to see.

                                        My one concern, then, is that the natural import company website states that the diameter is 9.5 inches, which seems prohibitively small - I'm cooking for two 95% of the time, but occasionally for guests, and the 10" and 12" seemed to be the way to go. I saw that someone else bought one on amazon.jp and set about investigating sizes there, but I was unable to navigate the Kanji, being flagrantly isolationist in my lingual tendencies.

                                        I could begin the Griswold ebay hunt to supplement the Nambutetsu, and I don't have a problem putting in the effort and money for that. When it comes to cookware, they are less tools than old friends.

                                        I am with you on buttery eggs. (Have you ever been to Shopsin's, in New York?) I will keep an eye out for that pan on ebay. I made a strong effort to sell myself on the tempura pot, and while it could conceivably be used as a faux dutch oven(?), I have never had or made a dutch baby, and have a generally amorphous headpace when I think of potential uses.

                                        1. re: dfmickley

                                          If you would rather skip the eBay search and don't mind paying a little extra for a Griswold, The Brooklyn Kitchen often has them in stock. The website doesn't seem to be entirely up to date, so I would call them or stop in the shop if you're in the New York area to see what is actually in stock. Usually they have more than what is on the website. Info at http://www.thebrooklynkitchen.com/ .

                                          1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                            Thanks, David. I'll probably make a trip of it next week. I just looked on Ebay and found a range of #10s, but hell if I can figure out whether or not the heat ring is irrelevant in the modern era of stovetops, which production period the logo corresponds to and if there is any genuine fluctuation in the quality of iron, etc. The Chowhound threads are universally pro-Griswold, but I couldn't find specifics on this stuff outside of the collector zealots.

                                            Trusting Politeness, it seems like anything with Erie on the bottom that sits flat is a safe bet, but even so, parsing through this information from the perspective of a cook instead of a collector is borderline spiritually painful, and I may delegate it to one of those helpful Brooklynites.

                                            1. re: dfmickley

                                              griswold has the name but also the price. i have a lot of cast iron skillets, all old ones. wagner (or wagner ware, same company, different years) are good. so are Piqua, Wapak, and a number of others. there were many, many foundries that produced fine cast iron cookware, decades ago. like the late 1800s thru the 1940s or even 50s. (two of my favorite cooking skillets are griswold small logo ones from the 50s- not collectible and half the price of the others, but man they are nice to cook on!)
                                              also, some pans are fine but do not even have a name on the back.'
                                              best advise is to get one as old as you can afford. make sure the ad says "sits flat" and also that the inside cooking surface is level! they leave that part out a lot. ask. have them place a small level or ruler or something in side the pan and make sure light does not show around anywhere.

                                        2. re: Politeness

                                          And if you have a suggestion for a pristine dutch baby in New York, or a preferred recipe I could whip up, I'm all ears.

                                          1. re: dfmickley

                                            dfmickley: The "preferred recipe" for a Dutch baby could hardly be simpler.

                                            4 eggs
                                            1 cup milk
                                            1 cup flour
                                            1/4 cup butter (½ cube) or its equivalent
                                            [Optional: a pinch of nutmeg and a couple of drops of vanilla]

                                            Preheat the oven (not in convection mode) to 450°.

                                            In the following steps, the timing of your guests' readiness to eat is the most important thing, because when the Dutch baby is done, it must be consumed immediately.

                                            Put the "butter" (we actually use about 1" to 1½" of a cube of butter, plus about 1 tablespoon peanut oil) into the Nambutetsu tempura pot and put the pot into the preheated oven to get the pot hot and the butter melted. (Depending on how fast you work, you may need to delay the next few steps to ensure that the pot reaches full heat; if you are a slow worker, then you need not delay.) Don't worry about scorching the butter; it WILL scorch.

                                            While the pot is heating in the oven, break the eggs into a blender and whip at the blender's highest speed for 30 seconds.

                                            Open the lid of the blender and add the milk (and optional vanilla) to the blender while it is still spinning at the highest speed that it can be set without getting stuff all over your counter.

                                            With the blender still spinning, add the flour (and optional nutmeg) slowly to keep it from getting mashed as a lump on the sides of the blender.

                                            Turn the blender back up to its highest speed and whip for another 30 seconds.

                                            Without removing the Nambutetsu from the oven (just slide the rack out a bit), pour the entire contents of the blender into the melted oil at the bottom of the heated Nambutetsu, push the shelf back in, and shut the oven door. The basic idea is to minimize the length of time that the oven door is open.

                                            Turn the oven down to 425° and bake until the top of the Dutch baby at its outer edges is really brown (the middle will be just past golden brown), about 15-20 minutes. After you have done this a few times, you will find that the smell of the baking Dutch baby gives the most accurate indication of when it is done, and saves you having to open the oven door to peek. You want to minimize the number and length of times you open the oven door.

                                            Now, the most important part: Before you remove the Dutch baby from the oven, make sure your guests or family are present to watch it as it emerges, tall and puffy. The taste of the Dutch baby is immensely enhanced by the absorption of "ooohs" and "aahhhs". I cannot emphasize this enough.

                                            Cut into slices and serve immediately -- really immediately -- with lemon slices (or fresh-squeezed lemon juice) and powdered sugar.

                                            In a pinch, you can use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven (without its lid) for the baking vessel; we have done that, and it works, sort of -- but the Nambutetsu works much better.

                                            This recipe can be scaled down to 3 eggs, and 3/4 cup each of the milk and flour, but does not scale up very well; better to make two 3-egg Dutch babies than one 6-egg Dutch baby.

                                            1. re: Politeness

                                              I will be attempting a Dutch Baby as soon as I can locate a suitable vessel. I hope my girlfriend, or federal authorities, never locate this post.

                                              I emailed the owner of the Natural Import site about purchasing a larger model of the pan. Fingers crossed. If that fails, I'll just get the 9.5" - in the worst case scenario, I could present a Griswold v. Nambu comparison that should endear me to the ultra-investigative niche within the already-eclectic Chowhound cast iron niche of the cookware enthusiast niche, which I imagine will land me on Iron Chef sooner rather than later.

                                              1. re: Politeness

                                                Well, the Dutch Baby recipe just compelled me to buy the Nambutetsu tempura set and an additional cast iron pan from the site. I have also been surfing for Griswold pans and griddles. I would love a pan that has 100 years of seasoning (well, 100 years of the iron being smoothed to glass). I have an induction cooktop, and am looking forward to trying out these pans.

                                                One question, I do not see here is any comment of the American Culinary Wagner polished cast iron pans. I would imagine that, although these are new and would require seasoning from scratch, the polished surface would be much better in time than starting with a Lodge pebbled surface.

                                                Any comments?

                                                1. re: Waynedude

                                                  Waynedude: "the Dutch Baby recipe just compelled me to buy the Nambutetsu tempura set and an additional cast iron pan from the site."

                                                  There is no finer cast iron made in our era (and perhaps never was any finer in any other era) than Nambutetsu; you will not regret your purchases. And -- as I suggested a year ago -- the Iwachu tempura pot is, simply, the _perfect_ vessel for making Dutch babies.

                                        3. re: Politeness

                                          Incorrect. Forged means the pan gets its shaped from being pressed, like with a giant stamp and die. If it was forged, it wouldn't be cast. The impeccable casting quality of the old pans is what makes them unique.

                                          1. re: JayJayMack

                                            I think the interiors of the old cast iron pans were machined to make a smooth surface.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              Old and new cast iron uses (usually) sand molds. That is, a die is pressed into a box full of sand (it may be wet), and molten iron is poured into that (actually 2 halves). Something similar is done to make cornstarch molds for chocolates and candies. When solid, the mold is opened, and sand broken off.

                                              With sand casting a rough, pebbly surface is normal. The casting can be sand blasted, machined, or polished. That fact that machining requires an extra step, and usually a labor intensive one, in part accounts for Lodge skipping that with most of their modern products. Years ago they must have put each pan into a lathe, where a skilled machinist shaved off the rough interior. Now that could easily be done with a computer controlled machine tool, but those aren't any cheaper than a good machinist.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I agree. It comes to marketing price point too. If Lodge is to include the machining smoothing step, the cost will go up noticeably. Will average customers pay extra for a smoother pan? I don't know.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  >Will average customers pay more<

                                                  The way some go on about how much better the vintage CI is because it is so smooth, I would say yes. (Though i would not) I mean look how much more some of us are willing to pay for lecreuset, or copper cookware or any other high end cooking tools.

                                                  1. re: dixiegal

                                                    <I would say yes>

                                                    I wasn't being clear. I guess I meant if there will be enough of a market to worth the change. I feel the vintage CI market is very small. The entire cast iron cookware is not that big to begin with. Truth to be told, there are some really high quality smooth surface cast iron made in Japan. They don't seem to sell well in US.

                                                    http://ginkgraph.net/articles/product...

                                                    http://remodelista.com/img/sub/uimg/J...

                                                    I do agree with you on Le Cresust. It is a respectable market. As for copper cookware, I feel it is a high end market, but a very small one. In other words, I don't think there are many copper cookware in people's home. It is like Toyota vs Ferrari. Toyota may not get the same respect as Ferrai, but Toyota is a 1.5 trillion annual revenue company. Ferrai is 2.2 billion -- 700 times in difference.

                                                2. re: paulj

                                                  Modern casting still uses sand, but for smaller pieces, a continuous DISA process is most common....it is a sort of automated continuous casting process where the back of the previous casting serves as the front of the next casting. Casting into a box with two halves (so-called "cope and drag" casting) is the traditional sand casting method, but only used for larger more complicated casting....think engine blocks and machine frames.

                                              2. re: JayJayMack

                                                .........they're not cast. In fact, there's a manufacturer's video of skillets being stamped and pressed in the factory which puts the kibosh on "only the French make good cast iron" assertion.

                                                1. re: MacGuffin

                                                  what videos do you have in mind?

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    Go to the de Buyer site.

                                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                                      I see 'mineral' videos that show how carbon steel pans are cut, stamped, trimmed, polished, and finished.

                                                      Here is a Lodge cast iron video
                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgTKTh...

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        Paulj,

                                                        I admitted that I was confused at first, but MacGuffin may not be saying that Debuyer steel pans are cast iron. I think, he may be saying that some people may confused cast iron vs carbon steel -- including DeBuyer. I wasn't able to locate the video where "only the French make good cast iron"

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          The only French cast iron that has much of a reputation is of the enameled variety.

                                                          For quality bare cast iron, I'd look to Japan (such as the pieces the Snow Peak markets).

                                                          There is some thinner cast iron on the market now. I've looked at a few pieces at TJMaxx. I don't recall where they are made.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            <For quality bare cast iron, I'd look to Japan>

                                                            Expensive stuffs. :)

                                                            But look at how beautiful they are:

                                                            http://www.emmohome.com/sori-yanagi-n...

                                                            http://thumbnail.image.rakuten.co.jp/...

                                                            I do agree with you. For high quality modern cast iron cookware, Japan is probably the best place to look for:

                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...

                                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            "only the French make good cast iron" is an opinion in a post referring to the Mineral B line to which I responded, not a video. The de Buyer video demonstrates that their skillets aren't cast and it has already been determined that the Mineral lines are steel, hence these particular French aren't making any cast iron, good or otherwise.

                                                            1. re: MacGuffin

                                                              I see. Again, thanks for clarifying for me.

                                                    2. re: MacGuffin

                                                      Hmm, it kind of sound like carbon steel cookware.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        Yes, I made that observation in a previous post.

                                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                                          I don't think DeBuyer makes cast iron cookware. DeBuyer makes carbon steel cookware (or best known for carbon steel cookware). So I think you are correct that DeBuyer may use a very different definition than we do. Thanks for clearing this up for me.

                                                      2. re: MacGuffin

                                                        To what does "they're" refer?

                                              3. Add me to the list supporting the antique shop/fleas market idea. You will DEFINITELY get a better pan if its vintage. If you have an autoclean oven, stick the pan in the oven and run the full 2 pr 3 hour cleaning cycle. You'll then have a practically new pan ready to season. The LODGE brand pans are useless (to me anyway) with that rough, pebbly inside surface.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                  you can crack your pan that way!!! please do not put an old, irreplaceable one thru the oven cleaner cycle! if it breaks, there goes a piece of history!!!
                                                  many other ways to clean up a pan. easy to find on the web. they do take a bit of elbow grease but soooo worth it!
                                                  i use the oven cleaner in a bag method, personally. again, easy to find instructions on the web. just type in "how to clean a cast iron skillet" or something like that.

                                                  1. re: jackie57

                                                    Whatever works for you.
                                                    Some of my iron pans are 75 years old (or older) and for close to 40 years I've been doing them in the oven cleaning cycle when necessary (mainly for newly acquired vintage pans). I have yet to ruin a pan using this method.

                                                    The oven method was recommended to me years ago and far as I'm concerned (and in my experience as well as other folks who've tried it), it's hands-down the best (and most hassle free) way to recondition an old classic cast iron pan.

                                                    1. re: jackie57

                                                      This is good advice. Even though most pans will survive this abuse most of the time, occasionally one will fracture. There is no need to take the risk.

                                                    2. re: The Professor

                                                      ps
                                                      when i get an old cast iron skillet, i only clean it down to bare iron if it is really, really crusty. i do not see the point in doing it otherwise, only to start the seasoning process again. i like the memories of all the generations of cooks who used it, cooking i hope with love for their families.
                                                      i prefer only to have to use an old skillet a couple of times, to kinda "refresh" the seasoning that others have done. less work and a great result, so far.

                                                    3. I have two US-made Wagners that I bought in the early 80's at Zabar's that I use ALL the time, as well as two 100+-year-old Griswolds that I bought on eBay; I like them a lot because they're much lighter in weight than pans made later. I absolutely would avoid anything made in China--buy a new Lodge or head to eBay. The Japanese pan mentioned above looks very interesting but make sure it's actually manufactured in Japan rather than contracted out elsewhere (like China or Thailand).

                                                      1. Even though I own--and use--a Lodge cast-iron skillet, I've also picked up a couple of flea-market Griswolds at good prices, and they're unquestionably superior to anything made today. Mine have needed a lot of scouring and re-seasoning to bring them back to life, but it was worth the trouble.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Miss Priss

                                                          Miss Priss, what's your technique, I've got a couple that could use some reseasoning

                                                          1. re: chuckl

                                                            Hi, chuckl--just saw your question! I don't consider myself an expert in re-seasoning, but here's what I do with rusted or crudded-up cast iron: scour our the rust or crud with steel wool, coat the pan with corn oil or Crisco, place it in a 200-degree oven for about an hour, wipe out, let cool. Then, each time I use it, I wash it with without soap, dry it, oil it lightly, heat it on the stovetop over a low flame, let it cool, and wipe it out. But there are many variations on this technique, along with other approaches altogether. This site describes some of them:

                                                            http://blackirondude.blogspot.com/

                                                        2. If you live in the Northeast US, finding a Griswold or a Wagner at a garage sale is like finding Bigfoot. Us Yankees didn't use cast iron. You can try Ebay, but the cost of shipping these heavy pieces can offset any bargains and you really have to know what you're looking at. Cast iron is HEAVY whether it's vintage or brand new. Boscov's used to sell 3 cast iron skillets for $9, but now they have a set of 2 for $15. They need to be seasoned, but they're quite good. The best deal is Lodge. They are sold by Target and Walmart, among other vendors. Emeril and Paula sell enamel cast iron pieces that are made in China. The China-made stuff is made to look like LeCreuset, but believe me, it's not. I swear by Lodge pre-seasoned, naked cast iron. It's quality, well-priced, and indestructible.

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: Ambimom

                                                            I very recently bought a 12" pre-seasoned Lodge at Marshall's for $14.00. I love that pan.

                                                            1. re: Ambimom

                                                              With all due respect, the reason you can't find a Griswold or Wagner at at a garage sale is that real Yankees are too damn cheap to go out and buy over-priced new cookware when the same pieces of cast iron that our grandparents cooked with, that then was used by our parents are now being used in our kitchens.

                                                              1. re: Ambimom

                                                                that paula deen cheap crap had the handles falling off, full of hot food. some even exploded in the oven.
                                                                that is why walmart took it off their shelves.
                                                                i did see it in tj maxx later. guess they bought what walmart dumped?
                                                                DO NOT BUY PAULA DEEN BARE CAST IRON.
                                                                i don't know about the quality of her enameled cast iron, but they must have not had too many lawsuits over it, since walmart is still selling it.

                                                                1. re: Ambimom

                                                                  Exactly!! I use Lodge because I can find it and I like the quality. Would love to find a Griswold or a Wagner but I have yet to even see one much less have a chance to buy one. :(

                                                                  1. re: Ambimom

                                                                    Lodge is junk. There is lots of really good old cast iron on eBay for very good prices. If its not a griswold or a Wagner the prices are comparable to a lodge. And anything old is going to be much, much better.

                                                                    1. re: JayJayMack

                                                                      I have Wagner cast iron pans, although none of them are as big as my Lodge. Yes, the Lodge is heavy, but it does the job very very well. I've used it for years, it has a beautiful finish on it, it does exactly what it's supposed to do and I am quite happy with that "junk". I also own Le Creuset pans, some high quality japanes knives, many all-clad pans, black steel pans, etc, so I'm no stranger to quality. When I read comments like yours, JayJay, especially, since you felt the need to repeat several times in this thread how "Lodge is junk" I often have the suspicion that what I'm reading is more about a person needing to prove what an "expert" they are than an honest effort to inform people. And I have news for you. It's smug and condescending to tell other people that the equipment that they use and love is "junk". It's not helpful, you are not the last word on the subject and I will continue to make awesome food in my "junky" Lodge pan.

                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                        Thank you, flourgirl. To paraphrase Duke Ellington: "If it cooks good, it IS good."

                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                          My understand is that some people find Lodge cast iron cookware more difficult to season than the smoother Wagner cast iron pans. I have read this many times here, and I think there is some truth to it. Hear me out. I got a few carbon steel cookware including deBuyer -- which of course are very smooth more so than any smooth cast iron cookware.

                                                                          It took me one session (maybe two) to season the smooth deBuyer to be stickless. It took me a month before my rough cast iron skillet and Lodge cast iron Dutch Ovens. These rougher cast iron cookware just take longer. On the other hand, I also find the rougher surfaces of the Lodge cookware also allow more stable seasoning to establish. Once the seasoning takes a holding on the Lodge cookware, it stays on, whereas my seasoning on DeBuyer is shallower and thinner.

                                                                          In my opinion, "junk" is an exaggeration for the Lodge cookware. However, if one finds it very difficult to season and was never able to jump through the hurdle, then the Lodge cookware will look to be junk.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            And IMO, I think the Lodges are not as balanced as the old Griswolds. But I still would not call them junk. I don't know what JJM is referring to.

                                                                            You can buy worse, I think. Cheap imports.

                                                                            If you can't find an old Griswold or Wagner, then why not buy a Lodge until you find one of the older ones?

                                                                      2. re: Ambimom

                                                                        I'm quite sure you're wrong about the US so-called "Yankees" not using cast iron. I don't know where you got your information, but I think what you mean is older northeastern families don't sell their cast iron in yard sales. Instead, it is among the most cherished of inheritances. My largest cast iron skillet once belonged to my great-great-great grandmother! It has no name on it because my great-great-great-great-great grandfather made it himself in his forge.

                                                                        I inherited my vintage Griswolds from my Great-Grandmother and her sister. Half my family was trying to get their mitts on them because they all love cast iron. None of them have ever lived anywhere except the northeastern US. We are a huge family. Most people in the central part of my northeastern home state are related to me by birth or by marriage. My family's been there since around the Revoluntionary War period. They are / were farmers. Through my great-great-granparent's generation, most of them had 12-16 children. My great-grandparents had 5 or 6 children each. I don't know anyone through my grandparent's generation that did not cook almost exclusively with cast iron.

                                                                      3. I bought my no name cast iron skillet 38 years ago in a local hardware store. It has been wonderful with no problems all that time. I am not sure that for cast iron, that you need a name brand. Though I use Lodge at work.

                                                                        1. go for the old stuff! i don't know about emerils, but you might want to know that pauls deens bare cast iron pieces were cracking, breaking, and even exploding when heated. they were recalled.
                                                                          the old griswolds, wagners, piquas, etc. are simply the best. it is not for nothing that some are a hundred years old and still good. they perform!
                                                                          i would never, ever, buy any of the new made in china junk. it will not cook right. sometimes the handles fall off...
                                                                          go for the gold and you will not regret it!
                                                                          just make sure the inside is flat. no pooling around the edges of oil, that way.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: jackie57

                                                                            I have two very (100+ years) old Griswold skillets and two Wagner's that are 25 - 35 years old (I don't remember exactly when I bought them but it was some years apart at Zabar's). The Griswold are especially wonderful because they're very lightweight, quite deep, and very easy to handle but I wouldn't surrender my Wagner's pans either. If I had to buy new, I'd go with Lodge; they're still manufacturing here although I'd avoid their enameled line because it's imported from China.

                                                                          2. This thread is old, but yeah, I suggest going to ebay, getting the best griswold you can afford. Doens't hvae to be expensive, but the older stuff is still better than the newer stuff

                                                                            1. Based on best prices I could find recently, the Staub was about $30 more than a similar sized Le Creuset, so I went with the 7-1/4 qt Le Creuset. (I first got the 9 qt, but when I got it home it really seemed to big for our family of 4... I returned it and the 7-1/4 qt is a really good size for our family (we're not big on freezing whole dinner leftovers, otherwise the 9 would be good.)

                                                                              Anyway, tonight was my first use of the Le Creuset French oven.... what a *JOY* to use! I made a new jambalaya recipe. The pot ransfers heat like crazy (to brown I only had to use med heat, rather than med-high), simmers very nicely, looks great on the table, and cleans up like a *BREEZE*! Wow, I should have got one a long time ago... I've been thinking of getting one for a long time, but the price is steep. Definitely seems worth it tho for many years to come!

                                                                              In the future, I'd love to get a slightly smaller pot for smaller recipes.... either the 5 qt round, or the 5 qt wide (oval).

                                                                              If you're thinking of your first Le Creuset... GO FOR IT!... figure out the most useful piece for you situation and get one... you won't regret the investment! :-)

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: gatorjwade

                                                                                Hi all,
                                                                                I had to resurrect this since I was able to do some comparison testing derived almost entirely by this thread and my recent (happy) return to cast iron cooking.

                                                                                Odd that it's so difficult to find and buy a NEW decent American made cast iron skillet, it being so....American. I search Salvation Army stores, yard sales, etc. for a Wagner/Griswold; nothing. With a car-camping trip on the horizon, I broke down and bought the Lodge, with it's rough un-machined cooking surface, wondering, should I invest the time effort of seasoning, is this going to become a good pan, or should I go to ebay and pay the premium for a Wagner.

                                                                                Then, I'm talking to my mom. She searches the depths of the pantry and comes up with the ol' Wagner (that I remember as a kid). I love my mom, but she couldn't-cook-her-way-out-of-a-paper-bag - and the pan is basically mint. I have no doubt she scrubbed it in the sink with soap after each infrequent use.

                                                                                So of course I go right to the egg test. If you're still reading, I'll finally get to the results.

                                                                                To ME anyway:

                                                                                1.) They performed the same with a slight edge going to the ..... Lodge. Omlettes flip very very nicely in both but the browning on the eggs in the lodge was more appealing.
                                                                                2.) It's all about temperature. If you kept the temp reasonable, there is no sticking to either.
                                                                                3.) Too hot a pan, and the edge still goes to the Lodge, for ease of flipping and cleaning. Wagner prone to stick more firmly if temp got too high.

                                                                                And lastly, Lodge is available to purchase. They're a going concern. I think the pan was less than $20. I feel good buying a new American made product of recent manufacture with probably very consistent iron/materials content.

                                                                                Sure I might pick up a Wagner or Griswold if I come accross one, but I ground off the sharp edges of the Lodge so it feels NICE, seasoned it correctly, and I like it. A lot.

                                                                                Best of luck with your choice.

                                                                                1. re: Stuart C.

                                                                                  Thanks for your report. I have no problem with my Lodge and am happy to hear you have a good experience with it. That said, it sounds like your Wagner is almost brand new with probably little to no seasoning surface. Today Lodge pans came with a factory seasoning surface. It is not the greatest, but it allows the users to cook with it fresh out of the box. I wonder if this makes for the difference you observed.

                                                                                  Best.

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    I can see how I left that impression, but I did of course season the Wagner twice. The Lodge was seasoned exactly the same way (Crisco, high temp, followed by lard when cooling). The Lodge was used a few more times (camp-out and such), so maybe the Lodge had just a bit more, but not much.

                                                                                    1. re: Stuart C.

                                                                                      Stuart C

                                                                                      Thanks. Good to know. There are certainly two camps on this cast iron cookware. One group believes the smoother surface of Wagner/Griswold deliver better results, while the other group believe it is only about the seasoning surface.

                                                                                  2. re: Stuart C.

                                                                                    I'm no cast iron expert but the Griswold's I've seen have a smooth surface while the Lodge has a rough surface from the sand blasting.

                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                      My oldish (25 - 35 years old) Wagner's skillets have a much rougher surface than my very old Griswold. I can't say that one type performs better than the other and I'm very happy to learn that Lodge skillets are performing so well--they've been around a long time.

                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                        I'm no cast iron expert either, but I don't think the surface is a result of sand blasting. Iron is typically cast in what are called sand molds. Sand is packed around a pattern and a sprue and runner are cut to allow molten metal to flow into the void left by the pattern. (This is the grosely simplified version.) The surface of the part as it comes out of the mold reflects the surface of the sand mold the iron was poured into. Better packing, finer sand, resin binder, better venting, etc. can and will affect the surface, but in most cases some sort of post mold finishing is necessary to get a relatively smooth surface and is what was probably the case with the old Griswold pans. The more post mold finishing that's done, the more expensive the article will be. Back in the day when Grandma bought that Griswold pan, people were much happier having one quality item than a lot of junk. Today, we seem to be very content with CRAP made in China, but having a lot of it. We don't want to pay for someone to finish that cast iron to the same level as that old Griswold was finished to. I've got Grandma's old Griswold frying pan and it still works fantastic, plus, I get to think about her every time it's pulled out for service.

                                                                                        1. re: mikie

                                                                                          Back in the days, moms also passed down cookware to their daughters when they were married. By today standard, it is disgusting (for many people anyway).

                                                                                          Just like another post, a poster stated that no one wants tools to last lifetime anyway. Quote: "No one wants anything - knives, cars, their spouse - for a lifetime."

                                                                                          1. re: mikie

                                                                                            Your correct mikie. Sand molds. We just had some outdoor furniture sand blasted so must have had that on my mind.

                                                                                            1. re: mikie

                                                                                              I just saw an episode of how it's made which featured cast iron cookware. They did in fact use a type of sand blaster that shot small pellets to remove the sand as the pans came out of the sand mold. They were blasted twice after they were removed from the molds.

                                                                                      2. No to Lodge.

                                                                                        Bought a 12" preseasoned Lodge frypan new a few months ago. Except, to save production costs (I called them and checked), the bottom of Lodge pans are now left as cast, pebbled, not smooth. First attempt at easy-over eggs in that abomination was a disaster. Hunted around the web, found a recommendation for 60 grit sanding, made up a mandrel system for my 3/8" hand drill with the help of the folks at Home Depot, took about 30 minutes to get an edge-to-edge surface devoid of all but the three deepest tiniest pits.

                                                                                        After seasoning that myself, works just fine. The seasoning itself, however, was an adventure, posted elsewhere

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: NeverLift

                                                                                          NeverLift, If you tried an egg over easy in your brand new lodge skillet, disaster is to be expected. That seasoning they put on there is just to get you started and in the few new ones I have baught, the seasoning pretty much sucked. As in it flaked off and took my layers of seasoning on top of it with it.

                                                                                          Now that said. I have been able to cook eggs without any trouble in my new lodge pans after several layers of seasoning. And if I will cook 2 or three pons of cornbread in the skillets first, I can cook eggs as if they were in a brand spanking new teflon coated pan. I am talking so slick that I have to chase the egg around the skillet to get my spatula under it.
                                                                                          Don't let the roughness of the Lodge skillets scare you away. But you do have to do more seasoning that that piddly seasoning layer they put on it. With use that roughness wears away or maybe smooths out with the heat over time. I have some not so new Lodge (though they were new when I got them) cookware that is slick as glass now. But they have seen some use in the time that I have owned them. And I don't baby them. They get scrubbed often with the steel wool because I don't want to wait to soak, steam or scrub with salt to get some of the bits of food that sometimes sticks to the pan. This sometimes happens with frying meat.
                                                                                          I too appreciate the old cast iron, but have been disappointed in some I have found. Such as little cracks and pits that don't show up until I get it home and clean it up. Also some of them are warped and I dont' notice that until I get home either.

                                                                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                            Yeah, I really had to watch it with my new lodge pans.

                                                                                            But I use them very regularly and had them for 5-10 years. They work like a champ now.

                                                                                        2. This is an old thread, but I know Politeness is still around, so:

                                                                                          Politeness, how big is that Tempura pot? The website does not give dimensions (just 10.5" diameter). I recently purchased a no-name vintage cast iron 10" pot with a nifty tall bunt-pan shaped lid. The bottom is 8" across, and the sides are 3" high (slightly sloped out).

                                                                                          Is this large enough to make that Dutch Baby in? Pot is smooth - not rough like Lodge.

                                                                                          That recipe intrigues me because it is the same as Dutch Pancakes - spooned onto a skillet or baking pan in the oven then served drizzled with lemon juice and powdered sugar. That was my very first recipe - I still have it written down on a sheet of paper in my 4th grade handwriting!

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: natschultz

                                                                                            natschultz (five months ago): "This is an old thread, but I know Politeness is still around ..."

                                                                                            Not much. The script kiddies who play with the software at CBS last March 31 changed this (and other CBS boards) in a manner that made it very difficult for many of us to read and post on CBS-sponsored boards. I have to borrow my spouse's laptop in order to participate. And I am much less inclined to go to that extra trouble because of the behavior of one anonymous moderator of this board who, whenever one makes the slightest criticism of cookware made by The Brand That May Not Be Named Except In Praise, fires off a warning and threat. Those two factors create a strong disincentive to participation. You may have noted the disappearance as well of other formerly active participants on this board.

                                                                                            [natschultz, anent the Iwachu Nambutetsu tempura pot] "Politeness, how big is that Tempura pot? The website does not give dimensions (just 10.5" diameter)."

                                                                                            The Iwachu pot is 10.5" across at the rim (not including the handles); its sloping sides and rounded bottom contour make it slightly smaller at the bottom. It is 3.5" high, and sits on three small nub feet. (Despite the slight separation from the cooktop surface that the feet provide, the pot works well on induction cooktops.) I have attached a photo of the outside bottom to this message.

                                                                                            natschultz: "I recently purchased a no-name vintage cast iron 10" pot with a nifty tall bunt-pan shaped lid. The bottom is 8" across, and the sides are 3" high (slightly sloped out). Is this large enough to make that Dutch Baby in?"

                                                                                            That volume certainly is sufficiently large for the 3-egg version of the recipe. It _probably_ would suffice for the 4-egg version, also, but possibly it would be a tad small.

                                                                                             
                                                                                          2. I think a vintage skillet is the best value, but if I wanted a new one, I would look at Bayou Classic. Unfortunately, cast iron skillets don't wear out. Mine is at least 40 years old, and I don't expect I will ever need another.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                              But surely you need another size? I rooted around in junk and antique stores to find my 4, and I use them all.

                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                I know this is an old thread revived but for what it is worth, swap meets are a great resource. I have been going to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, Ca for over 30 years. I know every major city must have a great flea market which will have a wealth of cast iron to choose from.

                                                                                                1. re: Fru

                                                                                                  Unfortunately, no. In the Midwest there are indoor flea markets, but iron skillets seem to be pretty thin on the ground, in my experience. However, I don't look that hard or that often. Someone else might know more.

                                                                                                  In the past I've suggested talking to elderly relatives who might have unused cast iron in their houses, going unused. But this poster wants to buy a gift for her mom, so pristine older skillet or a newer skillet would seem the best way to go.

                                                                                            2. Question for all--I am thinking of buying a Griswold...what should a newbie look for when buying a used Griswold? Anything I should avoid? Thank you!

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: newcook77

                                                                                                Since you say "a," determine which size you want and then just go with what looks good to you and is within your budget. That's what I did and I have no regrets. I really doubt you can go wrong with any American-made cast iron, including Wagner and Lodge. I have no cause to play favorites among my Griswolds and (more recent) Wagner's. Try to maintain some perspective--as much as we love the stuff, it was intended for the masses, not to be high-end cookware. :)

                                                                                                1. re: newcook77

                                                                                                  Not sure if anyone really answered the question posted back in August.

                                                                                                  I've got Griswolds, Wagners, Wapak, Piqua, Lodge (old and new), and the enameled pieces (Staub and Le Creuset). Wagners are a bit cheaper compared to Griswold, but the quality is still very good up 'till the 1950s.

                                                                                                  The easiest place to familiarize yourself with available cast iron is on eBay. Antique malls also usually carry cast iron, but tend to be in middling condition (read: expensive, dusty, rusting, or need reaseasoning).

                                                                                                  1. Size: If this is your single and only CI pan, buy a number 8, 9, or 10. Those are about 9", 10", and 11", respectively. If you're cooking for yourself, the 8 will do. Number 8s are widely available and generally reasonably priced.

                                                                                                  2. Condition: Check the pan.
                                                                                                  2.a. If this is your one-and-only CI pan, recommend paying a bit more in order to purchase a "professionally" seasoned pan from someone who really takes the seasoning steps seriously.

                                                                                                  Why? Seasoning a pan can be a bit of a hassle. Most people get a pan from garage or estate sales, wash them off, and bake them at 350 with some Pam, or, worse yet, sand-or-bead-blast them. Don't do this.

                                                                                                  Therefore, find someone who has actually used lye or electrolysis (dissolving organic matter and carbon), washed it in a mild acid such as vinegar (dissolves rust), and then seasoned it at high temperatures (500 degrees)(carbonizes the fats onto the pan). Or be willing to do this yourself (material costs are around $13 - $6 for a can of oven cleaner, $2 for steel wool, $2 for vinegar, $3 for Crisco, and about three hours of time).

                                                                                                  2.b. Check the listing carefully.
                                                                                                  2.b.1. Good: "Sits flat," or "No wobble."
                                                                                                  2.b.2. Bad: Some pitting (or rust) on cooking surface; "slight" wobble

                                                                                                  3. Griswold
                                                                                                  3.a. Old-old Griswold: Marked with "ERIE" at the bottom and little else
                                                                                                  3.b. Old Griswold: Big logo,
                                                                                                  3.c. Griswold: smaller logo
                                                                                                  3.d. "Griswold" acquired by other company. "Erie, PA" language indicating origin have been removed: No products yet

                                                                                                  Hope this helps.

                                                                                                  1. re: newcook77

                                                                                                    Buying a used Griswald would be the same as buying any other CI. Make sure it sets flat on a flat surface. Look for cracks and pitting. If the pan is heavily coated, the cracks and pits may not can be seen until you strip it down. I highly recommend stripping down old cast iron. Not only do you not know what all those layers on it is. A cracked CI pan could give away when you are cooking with it. (Could be quite hazordous) Old CI was sometimes used for other things besides cooking. So strip that thing down and put your own seasoning layers on it.

                                                                                                    1. re: newcook77

                                                                                                      Make sure it is level on the bottom. Place a straight edge across the diameter of the pan's bottom to check that. Sometimes the pans are warped.

                                                                                                      I bought one on ebay several years ago that was described as in perfect condition, and it came to me clearly warped.

                                                                                                      I bought a Griswold from a junk store, and spent hours and hours scouring it down. Personally, I would only buy one that required minimal cleaning. Unless I found it at a great price. I know people put their pans in the oven on self clean, but I can't bring myself to do that.

                                                                                                    2. With all due respect to those who suggest this, obtaining a cast iron skillet from an unknown source is risky business. If you do not know the history of the skillet, don't buy it. Sometimes cast iron is used to melt lead or other toxic substances and then sold at a garage sale or some other venue. And, you or your mother could get lead poisoning or be poisoned by some other substance absorbed into the iron that leaches out into your food. While the odds are probably in your favor that you won't, it still isn't good to risk your health or the health of others.

                                                                                                      28 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: CCPat

                                                                                                        If you are that concerned, then lead test the pan. I would not pass up a Griswold in good shape just because it didn't come directly from my great grandmother.

                                                                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                          "Amen" to that, given my love of all things Griswold, especially very early.

                                                                                                        2. re: CCPat

                                                                                                          So how do i check for lead :(

                                                                                                          1. re: newcook77

                                                                                                            You can get lead-testing kits at Home Depot, Walmart, etc. I've used them many times on vintage cookware and tableware. I'm assuming they work as advertised, but I've never actually had a piece test positive. In any case, it's a good idea to clean vintage cast iron very carefully before using it, even if this means you'll have to do some re-seasoning.

                                                                                                            1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                                              OH MY...buy the Griswold, hang it on the wall, buy a Lodge, put it on the stove, lead concerns eliminated. Thinking the Lodge will cost the same, maybe less, than the lead test. Resale on Griswold should be excellent (they aren't making any more).

                                                                                                              1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                                Isn't that kind of "guilty until proven innocent?"

                                                                                                                1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                  Yes, but we do that all the time, right? When people say tuna has high level of lead (or whatever), we don't test every tuna fish to find out its lead level. We just sort of assume an average lead level -- even though their levels varies. Same as anything you can think of, Mad cow disease, bird flu...etc.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                    I guess I'm not of the "we" mentality.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                      So you test individual fish for lead content?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                        No, I don't. I'm a vegetarian.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                          Would you test individual lettuce head for salmonella?

                                                                                                                          http://www.wbal.com/article/93183/3/t...

                                                                                                                          or individual tomato

                                                                                                                          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05...

                                                                                                                          Pick your food groups. My point is that it is not uncommon. If in doubt as Mike stated, one can in fact do a lead test. If not, then it is a choice to use it or to not use it.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                            I don't think this is a good analogy. You're talking food that can harbor lethal microorganisms, I'm talking very old cookware that has been used for generations with no evidence of harm being done to its users--my CI ranges in age from old to OLD and I think by now that if it contained lead, we'd have heard. And in the unlikely event that I buy tomatoes, I cook them and I rarely buy lettuce; regardless, I assume it's not "guilty" of being contaminated.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                              <you're talking food that can harbor lethal microorganisms, I'm talking very old cookware that has been used for generations>

                                                                                                                              Good point.

                                                                                                                              <my CI ranges in age from old to OLD and I think by now that it contained lead, we'd have heard>

                                                                                                                              But we were not talking about your CI cookware though (or anyone else particular one)...I am sure yours are fine. I take your words for them.

                                                                                                                              The conversation is not about the original cast iron cookware having lead out from the factory. The conversation is about buying an old vintage cast iron cookware. You may not know what the previously owners have used it for -- this is the original context. You don't know the history of the cookware. He/she could have used it as an motor oil draining pan...etc.

                                                                                                                              CCPat wrote:

                                                                                                                              "With all due respect to those who suggest this, obtaining a cast iron skillet from an unknown source is risky business.... Sometimes cast iron is used to melt lead or other toxic substances ...."

                                                                                                                              This is why people here were joking about melting lead into a pan, and making bullets.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                Yes, we were talking about old CI cookware. My response was to MikeB3542's comments "buy the Griswold, hang it on the wall" and "Resale on Griswold should be excellent (they aren't making any more)."

                                                                                                                                1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                                  Right. I don't think MikeB means the original Griswold cast iron has lead in it. He was only saying that we don't know what the previous owners may have use it for. MikeB was responding to Miss Priss, who was then responding to newcook77. They were all talking about potential harmful materials getting to the cookware due to previous owners.

                                                                                                                                  It sounds like your CI cookware were passed down through generation from your own family. That is a bit different than just buying a cast iron cookware from someone through eBay.

                                                                                                                                  MikeB's point (accurate or not) is that the lead test is as expensive as buying a Lodge cast iron cookware. Therefore, why not just buy a brand new Lodge cast iron cookware and not to ever worry about chemical contamination.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                    Because Griswold is better than Lodge. All my Griswold was bought second hand. I'm certainly not wasting it by hanging it on the wall or selling it to by more Lodge ( I do own Lodge also).

                                                                                                                                    The idea that lead testing might ( I don't agree with this theory) cost more than the pan is not a reason to not test it. At least not to someone that values quality over money.

                                                                                                                                    A quick google search came up with a test kit for lead at Home Depot for 25 dollars that can do 8 tests. So we are talking 3 dollars per test.

                                                                                                                                    Not that I am worried about it. I never tested my cast iron, and I won't be doing so now.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                      :)

                                                                                                                                      Yes, I am not actively agreeing or disagreeing with your or Mike's position. I understand that you find the Griswold to be better than Lodge and therefore the chemical test is worthwhile. I get it. All I was trying to say is to clarify MikeB position. That, he wasn't saying that the original Griswold is toxic. Rather the previous owner may have did something funny to the pan. For some people, it is just something they worry about.

                                                                                                                                      That being said. I would think lead is probably not that likely. The chance of someone melting lead into a pan is low -- I think. The chance of someone draining motor oil in one is higher or to use it as some acids bath. So if anything, there are plenty other tests I would do before the lead test.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                        Ditto that.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                          Because one LIKES Griswold CI better, does not mean that it IS better. I do not consider Lodge new or old CI 'junk' at all. Nor do I consider Griswald of any vintage CI better. I have both old, very old, and new CI and find myself using the newer Lodge CI 98% of the time. My newer lodge cooks everything just as we'll as the old CI.

                                                                                                                                          I have seen old CI used for all sorts of things that would make me not want to use it for food. The same for old canning jars. I am very cautious about using old dishes and cookware that I don't know it's history.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                          I took the comments literally. And no, I bought my Wagner firsthand and the Griswold on eBay. My parents still have their Wagner which I will someday inherit.

                                                                                                                      2. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                                        I cook on my Griswold almost every day.

                                                                                                                        1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                          I would have to say the same is true of me. And I doubt, within the annals of epidemiology, there's any reference to an outbreak of lead poisoning that traces to the use of cast iron skillets unless paint chips are being fried and served.

                                                                                                                          1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                            Inclined to agree. Heavy metal poisoning way more likely from old house paint (lead), pottery glazes (cadmium, etc.) and seafood (mercury). Still, worth paying attention to. Our understanding about how these materials can effect us has expanded dramatically. Used to be that health community only focused on cases of frank poisoning, but research has shown that lower levels, especially in children, can have profound impact on development.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                                              <but research has shown that lower levels, especially in children, can have profound impact on development.>

                                                                                                                              Mike is dead on. Lead poisoning is rather unusual for adults. First, adults have much greater tolerance against lead poisoning. Second, adults' brains have matured (finished growing), so lead isn't going to slow down adult brain development. Third, adults do not tend to put random things into their mouth say wall paints.

                                                                                                                        2. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                                          Lead-testing swabs generally cost about $4 - $5 each. I've never felt the need to use one on bare cast iron, though; just enameled cast iron and ceramics. And it's news to me that people all over America are melting lead in their cast-iron skillets. What are they doing with it?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                                                            Making their own bullets?

                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                              >Making their own bullets?<

                                                                                                                              If those pans originated in KY and/or TN, then it is highly possible;o)

                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                Just so you know. If you want to shoot werewolves, you should melt silver to make silver bullets. Because silver is relatively nontoxic, it is fine if your seller claims to be a werewolf hunter. Just so we know there are different kind of hunters out there.

                                                                                                                    2. I have a set of cast iron cookware which I bought in K Mart. It came with two skillets, several pots small and large and a dutch oven. All with lids. Made in Taiwan. Excellet quality and the price was $17.00.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: classylady

                                                                                                                        How long ago did you buy it? Not to disparage your choice but I'm guessing that longevity is among the criteria that constitute "best" on this thread.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                          I must have purchased the set many years ago, along with a cast iron griddle.

                                                                                                                          1. re: classylady

                                                                                                                            Ya done good! :)

                                                                                                                      2. An OLD, CRUSTY, cleaned up and reseasoned one... Griswold or Wagner. Found for a few bucks at a yard sale or flea market. Probably used for years by a grand or GREAT-grandmother who knew how to cook!

                                                                                                                        1. Saw this at the store today. One word - WOW (applies to the price too)

                                                                                                                          http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: cutipie721

                                                                                                                            <(applies to the price too>

                                                                                                                            Do you mean it is too cheap or too expensive? It is slightly expensive, but I won't say that it is excessively so. Lodge Signature was much more expensive:

                                                                                                                            http://www.casa.com/p/lodge-signature...

                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                              It is beyond my ability to understand why this Lodge is 7x more expensive than their good old 12" skillet.

                                                                                                                              Anyway, I think the Komin pan is expensive. Debuyer force blue is a very good alternative.

                                                                                                                              1. re: cutipie721

                                                                                                                                If one is set on an alternative to cast iron proper, dB's Mineral lines are probably the best bet. They're considered Iron (99%), just not cast.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cutipie721

                                                                                                                                  <It is beyond my ability to understand why this Lodge is 7x more expensive than their good old 12" skillet.>

                                                                                                                                  I really think that it is about marketing. Lodge thought that it can charge more. That's it. A lot of time, the market price is not simply about cost, but about profit. I don't think anyone think that the Lodge Signature pans cost 5-7 times more to make.

                                                                                                                                  Here is another example. The Henckels Four Star 8" Chef's knife is about $100:

                                                                                                                                  http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO...

                                                                                                                                  but the Henckels Twin 1731 8" Chef's knife is $450. I don't believe it costs 4.5X to make it:

                                                                                                                                  http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cutipie721

                                                                                                                                    Hi, cutiepie:

                                                                                                                                    Now they're turning thinness in a CI pan into a *virtue*. Makes you wonder why they've been pushing thick wares all this time, right?

                                                                                                                                    This is W-S at its worst:

                                                                                                                                    "With all the heat-retaining qualities of a heavier, more traditional cast iron piece, this surprisingly lightweight and easy-to-handle cast-iron pan heats up rapidly, transfers heat uniformly and responds quickly to changes in cooking temperature."

                                                                                                                                    No, it won't--as a matter of physics--hold heat like a thicker pan. No, it won't transfer heat uniformly; it will hot-spot like crazy unless the hob is very even. No, it won't respond quickly (unless your only comparison is with thick CI). And if they've thinned the handle juncture, the long handle will be prone to snapping off.

                                                                                                                                    Aloha,
                                                                                                                                    Kaleo

                                                                                                                                2. re: cutipie721

                                                                                                                                  I'm intrigued!

                                                                                                                                  Also intrigued about the black matte silicon coating - not so sure about that... but I'd love to see one up close.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                                                                    "Cast iron with nonreactive black matte silicon coating."

                                                                                                                                    Silicon or silicone?

                                                                                                                                    I wonder if something is mistranslated. I hope if there is a silicone coating, then it is only on the handle. Silicone coating is worse than Teflon coating in term of temperature stability.

                                                                                                                                    If it is silicon, then I don't know why.

                                                                                                                                    In addition, the video states that the seasoning surface has to be maintain. If it is silicone coated, then there isn't any seasoned layer to be concern of.

                                                                                                                                    http://youtu.be/Rk1JyRYolys?t=43s

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                      I was wondering all that too. Just one of the reasons why I'd like to see one in real life.

                                                                                                                                      I wonder if there's any point in looking for one here in Aussieland...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                                                                        If I were that close to Japan, I would look for a Lwachu pan. I saw the Komin pan at a local W-S and was unimpressed.

                                                                                                                                        If you want a thin pan like this one, De Buyer is the way to go IMHO. If you want cast iron, Lodge, LC, and Staub are all a better way to go.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sid Post

                                                                                                                                          +1 for de Buyer. I haven't used any of the others.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sid Post

                                                                                                                                            Thanks Sid :)

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                          I think the whole thing is pretty bizarre but then, I don't like "silicon" (oy) as a cooking medium anyway although I do like it for things like spatulas. This just strikes me as an attempt to reinvent something that has worked fine for hundreds of years. What really cracked me up was the "matte" finish--the better to ape the appearance of real seasoning is my guess.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                            I would stay far away from any man made coatings. These are all bad for humans and pets. Only coatings that are safe are enamel baked and porcelain.

                                                                                                                                        3. re: cutipie721

                                                                                                                                          While at Williams Sonoma check out the Staub enamel skillets also.