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I beg you, can we stop all this hand-wringing and snobbery about cast iron

Look, I use cast iron almost exclusively....and my stuff is not vintage. I cook two to three meals a day in it for the last six years. I didn't inherit heirlooms or bid on Ebay; I bought mine piece by piece. I own LC, Tramontina, Lodge, and el cheapo-beepo from who knows where.

I won't discuss my seasoning routine or my cleaning routine because what I've learned is that there are as many different routines as there are pots and pans. They all work. Just find one that fits your cooking style. I found mine.

Suffice it to say....yes the modern stuff is HEAVY, probably much heavier than those Griswold's you inherited from your grandmother or great aunt Tilly. And yes, when new, the finish on the non-enamel cast iron pots and pans were a little rough at first. .

But here's what you don't know....the more those pans are used; the more they season, and guess what? Those rough surfaces smooth to a slippery deep black finish to which nothing sticks....and to which you can occasionally rinse with a little soap or in which you can cook a tomato or two. Last night I actually deglazed some chicken and onions with orange juice....and the pan was smooth enough to slide a fried egg this morning,

Cook, bake, roast, and fry. That's all you really need to know....and maybe don't ever put a pan away wet.

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  1. well said ambimom. to each there own regarding cooking cuiring and cleaning their own cast iron pot or pan. i have never had any problems with the ones i own some are cheap and some are brand names but they do get better with age and use. dont over do it trying to cure the problem by over seasoning the pan time will make things better

    1. Do the pans themselves (separately from the seasoning) get better over time - e.g., does the rough CI even out, so that if you had to re-season one of the newer pans, over time the bare CI would be smoother and easier to season over?

      1. Bravo, bravo. Cast iron pans are great for many things. Maybe we could all just agree on that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: escondido123

          I agree with that! Cast iron--good. Snobbery--bad.

        2. Hi, Ambimom: I'm sorry. I missed your point about snobbery. Who's being snobbish and about what? The people who have the French and older American CI?

          Personally, I think the thicker and heavier cast iron is, the more even heating it allows. To this degree (and extent), I think modern CI may be qualitatively better *performers* than the older stuff that was designed for woodstove use. The older and French stuff is preferred by many for reasons they themselves may not know or fully understand. And in some ways they are superior. But *you* shouldn't be made to feel inferior for having something else that works for you.

          I sympathize how you might tire of the endless comparative discussions. Me, too. Not long ago, I offered a free piece of LC to anyone who could cause the "LC vs. Staub" thread to be locked down permanently.

          Still, there is a sizeable community of folks here who will--despite your plaintive cry--go on discussing, in all its arcanery, the vaunted makes and brands, seasoning, etc. You will find it's like trying to hold back the tide.

          4 Replies
          1. re: kaleokahu

            Actually Ambimom does have a point about the snobbery. I have seen people get the LC and just hang them for show, almost like copperware. I guess these are the people who spend gazzillions remodeling their kitchen and putting in a Viking or similar range but never do much in the kitchen. I see people get great french copperware and never use them. What a waste. I'm more interested in showing off the taste of the finished product than the cookware. My copperware has never been polished and looks real funky.

            1. re: Mikecq

              My absolutely and most favorite pan is a small, copper pan (commercial weight) that I use for everything from boiling eggs to pasta. It heats boiling water almost instantly and nothing else I own (le creuset, staub, Calphalon) can say that. I agree Mikecq that my copper is definitely not polished and the cast iron handle is pretty rugged by now. I love it.

              1. re: ellequint

                Have you had to re-tin your copper-ware? I have one in for over 6 months and hoping for it's return.

              2. re: Mikecq

                As long as they're not wasting MY money, then I don't care. Their house.

            2. Hi Ambimon,

              Gosh, no need to get yourself all worked up!

              If you don't like reading the cast iron threads, don't. Last time I checked, Chowhound wasn't holding a gun to my head forcing me to read threads I didn't want to read.

              Lucy

              1. Use what you like! There are just people with different preferences. I wouldn't call it snobbery. I like reading everyone's opinion and experience. I have learned a tremendous amount that way. I have even changed my mind on a few things. I might read more and change it to something else. I did know the new pans season eventually. That was discussed preciously. ;-)

                2 Replies
                1. re: wekick

                  Actually I have read some posts where people say most of their friends have LC so they went out and got LC.

                  1. re: wekick

                    I, too, enjoy all the opinions offered. No offense taken with any of them. I find, when I am looking to purchase something, the opinions of others who have tried something very useful!

                  2. I used to read all the cast iron postings from top to bottom. I learned a lot. I learned it is important to keep them dry and seasoned, and that if i can screw it up, i can always start over. Ive had them rust, had friends leave them in the sink for a week 'soaking' and had a well intentioned friend scrub one of them till it was bright and shiny. i thought she was gonna cry when she read about seasoning pans...

                    now i just browse the threads. i still pick up tidbits here and there, interesting to see how different people do different things to maintain their cast iron. and yes, some of them do get rather perturbed that others don't do things their way. but then this site is populated by people who are serious about food.

                    1. Well, Ambimom, I guess the answer to your question is "No we can't." ;)

                        1. I have a number of cast iron pans, some are family pieces and some were thrift shop finds. The thrift shop finds i run through the self cleaning cycle of my oven, they come out sparkling clean and rid of old burned on crud. They will have a little rust residue in the pan. Wipe it out with some lard. wipe again and heat over a very low flame wiping occasionally. Don't use oil, it leaves a sticky residue and be prepared to gasp, I wash my pans with hot soapy water. Rinse, dry and do one round of the low flame and a bit of lard. Then put it away until the next use. By the way, the Griswolds and Wagnerware cast iron have become collectors items and some can fetch very high prices. I've heard recently that Wagnerware may start production agasin.

                          43 Replies
                          1. re: Candy

                            Candy, I wash my pans with hot soapy water too. :)

                            1. re: flourgirl

                              I don't use soap in any pan I have, cast, enameled or teflon or ceramic , I just don't see the point, germs will die when it hits the heat.

                              1. re: Dave5440

                                I agree, although I do use soap to remove grease or other residues, on non-cast-iron pans. I have talked to people who insist that cast-iron is just not sanitary, but honestly, once I heat that pan up to 350, there's nothing left to hurt you.

                                1. re: motownbrowne

                                  how anyone thinks that a finish that has been cooked on and stands up to three hours of simmering stew or frying off a couple of pounds of bacon is going to be hurt by a minute of exposure to dishwashing detergent boggles my mind. I'm not talking about leaving it in the sink overnight and then scrubbing it with an sos pad. If it is seasoned right you wont need to. At the same time dipping it in warm suds, wiping it out with a sponge, and then rinsing it is not going to damage that finish. Be sure to rinse the soap out, maybe apply a light coating of oil or fat (maybe), and be sure it is absolutely dry before you put it away.

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                      I don't think it will hurt it , I just don't use it as I don't think it's needed , and I always put my pans back on the stove and heat them up again to dry

                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                        The reason you dont use soap is cast iron is porous and absorbs the soap if washed in hot water. Therefore often causing a sticky pot when seasoned and or the soap will leave a taste.. I wipe the pot clean as I can.. Heat it up a little, put oil and salt and wipe all food away and then rinse with hot water, towel dry, put on stove and heat to almost smokin wipe all over with lard, let cool and wipe away all oil that was not absorbed when the iron was hot and use again..

                                        1. re: artist1

                                          I hear you and respect that's how you do it. However, there are people here who are at least semi-professional in cookware who hold different opinions.

                                          1. re: artist1

                                            Well, artist1, my pans aren't the slightest bit sticky and I can't detect any soap taste in my cooking. It's what I prefer, it works for me - and the world isn't going to come to an end because I do things this way.

                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                              very true and dont sweat it if thats what you prefer, but my only cookware for over 40 years has been CI and I do know a thing or two about it.. and if someone really thinks that made in china preseasoned is really all ci well just take a long stainless spoon and tap the new stuff with a comparable piece of the old stuff.. one rings.true,. one kind of thud clangs. I have done many tests to compare and they just arent really comparable for even heating etc and thats important to me. . the new stuff holds heat like 10 mins at the most, not my old stuff and the old stuff can be as cheap as the new, if you ebay, yard sale, barn sale, etc.. But hey its just my opinion and really in the scheme of things means nothing.. just thought Id share..

                                              1. re: artist1

                                                The ringing test has some levels of truth to it, but it is probably overestimated. The historical reason for the ring test is that it can test if there is a weak point in the metal. In fact, it can find out where the fracture is. If there is a hidden fracture/crack, then the vibration cannot pass through and resonate the metal, and therefore lacks the ring sound. Kind of like the idea how people knock on wooden wall to find the seam. Historically, it was a useful test because back then a lot of cast iron cookware have fractures. However, relying on this test can be misleading. In short, just because something resonates it does not prove it is good. In fact, the strength required to resonate one object is not the same as another object. For example, the strength to resonate a glass dining glass is very different than the strength to resonate a 3-feet tall brozen bell. If I hit the brozen bell with the force I would for the glass bell, it will not make a ringing sound. In addition, a metal bell is not necessary a good cookware.

                                                Similar tests have been said for knives. Some said: a good knife should sound like a bell when you hit it: the louder and clearer the better. Well, that is untrue. The loud and clear sound only proves it is a good bell, not a knife. Do you hit your car engine to make sure it rings like a bell? In fact, it would be a bad idea if it rings.

                                                I do have a knife which rings like a bell with a very crystal sound, but it is definitely not my best knife.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  that is true, but if the pots are the same size and shape and hit with the same ammount of force and both being ci they should ring true.. they do not.

                                                2. re: artist1

                                                  artisit1, I haven't been using my CI pans for 40 years but I'm working on 20 for some of them.

                                                  And I can assure you that a 12" Lodge pan I bought a few years ago holds heat a hell of lot longer than 10 minutes. I use it all the time and I have no complaints with it's performance.

                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                    And I have no reason to doubt you. Like I said it comes highly recommended by those in the know.. Lodge is USA made and therefore does not fall into the Made in China category. I have no experience with Lodge, because like I said before, the preseasoning is not for me. Whatever works for someone and what they prefer is a matter of personal choice. Personally, I prefer my old stuff to anything new.. but thats me. and my only made in China DO does not hold heat for any length of time. Happy Cooking, Debra

                                                    1. re: artist1

                                                      I picked up the Lodge pan at Marshal's a few years ago for $12 so I was thinking more along the lines of "inexpensive" more than "made in China."

                                                      It was the best $12 I'd spent in a long time. :)

                                                      1. re: artist1

                                                        "my only made in China DO does not hold heat for any length of time"

                                                        Interesting that your Chinese Dutch Oven behaves so differently. Basically, you said it does not heat evenly and it has much lower heat retention, right? Most of the complaints I read about Chinese made cast iron is that they are too thick or too heavy, which if anything, should have greater thermal capacity and therefore better heat retention. Is your Chinese cast iron Dutch Oven thin or thick?

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          Chem: "[T]he complaints I read about Chinese made cast iron is that they are too thick or too heavy, which if anything, should have greater thermal capacity and therefore better heat retention."

                                                          Yes, and thicker means better heat *evenness*, too. Not good, but better.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            I dont notice that they are heavier although they may be a bit thicker, the metal is definitely inferior to the old. I discovered the heat retention thing when making two identical dishes. One for us and one for another family.. The MIC cooled way faster than the other.. Im used to turning off oven dishes and allowing them to finish cooking in the DO heat..that was not a good idea with the MIC.. You are free to do the test yourself. Anyway why would someone buy MIC when the lodge and much of the old CI is so inexpensive.. Buy American when you can and if you buy used from an American you are at least helping one out.. But I feel that I am giving a fair and honest eval of this DO..The only one that I have seen that is so much heavier is the Wenzel brand and its ridiculously heavy and does not perform better.. Sorry if you disagree, but hey, test it yourself..

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              Agree... density of material used, its heaviness, is generally synonymous with heat retentive capacity.... about heating evenly....dunno about that.

                                                            2. re: artist1

                                                              Lodge makes un-pre-seasoned pans as well.

                                                        2. re: flourgirl

                                                          re: flourgirl

                                                          true--I use a lightly soaped sponge or tuffy to remove hard residue or fat; never have any detectable soap flavor and I've got a pretty good sense of taste and smell. Now, leftover curry flavor from a pan that's been only water-rinsed and wiped? yucko in my morning's sweet cornbread.

                                                          I'll never forget my SIL's lamenting her well-meaning Grannie's lack of CI-soaping when she recounted her emabarrasment at the sleepover breakfast Grannie made for her teen friends--all the pancakes tasted like fish. She was mortified, recounting it 10 years later.

                                                        3. re: artist1

                                                          Cast iron is NOT porous and it doesn't absorb anything. New pans will be rough and bumpy, but not porous. Nothing can soak into iron unless it is cracked or has a hole in it.

                                                          I too, wash mine with soapy water if needed. I even scrub with a stainless wool pad if something is stuck on. I also use metal utinsils. All of which will help to smooth out the metal with use.

                                                          I have old cast iron and I have new and I have some that is in between. The reason the old cast iron is so smooth is because of the use and time. It too was rough in the beginning.

                                                          Now, the one thing that I do like better about the new, is the 'helper' handles on the large skillets. I, for one, cannot handle a large cast iron skillet without one. So, my old larger cast iron skillets are never used anymore.

                                                          I also do not find the Lodge cast iron to be more rough than some of the other brands or off brands.(I once read a post that someone stated that lodge CI was rougher than some of the others) I did a comparison at the store, and Lodge even seemed less rough than some of them.
                                                          Not that it matters to me, I like them all. And with a little use and some time, they all smooth out.

                                                          Anyway, there appears to be many ways to care for and use cast iron. I love reading about all the different ways.

                                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                                            Two thoughts: I bought a set of beautiful (removable) mahogany handled cast iron cook ware at the Hoyang factory in Norway in 1979 and have used it exclusively ever since. From the get go, the surface was as smooth as a baby's bottom.
                                                            When our eldest graduated college and bee-lined overseas, I inherited a large, beat to hell Lodge. The surface was worse than the acne of my 11th grade students and had been so badly scorched that the bottom looked like a half moon. I re-seasoned it and it works beautifully.
                                                            The lesson? Smooth or rough, a well seasoned pan "does good".

                                                            1. re: dixiegal

                                                              dixiegal: Shirley Corriher's reason for advising us to heat our skillets before adding fat is that heat opens up the pores in the iron, but it also causes fat molecules to bond together. So if we want the fat to penetrate the iron surface we should wait for those pores to open up before adding it. You can believe or disbelieve her as you wish, but she is a qualified and respected food scientist.

                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                does the oil disappear as the pan heats and the oil penetrates the iron surface? or reappear when the pan cools?

                                                              2. re: dixiegal

                                                                Thank you - if it was porous, would it not leak?

                                                                1. re: dixiegal

                                                                  I have 4 main pieces of cast iron cookware:....2 fry pans and two dutch ovens. They are all over 40 years old. I don't know if I agree with your assessment that 'rough' cast iron becomes smoother with age. My two fry pans and one dutch oven were properly milled when new.....nice and smooth and have served me well for all these years. The fourth piece, a dutch oven, was, is and in my opinion....will always be rough no matter how much I use it. It NEVER wears smooth. I suppose I could take a grinding tool to it.......but, I digress. I highly endorse using cast iron cookware but if you buy a new or old/used/antique/vintage piece and it is not properly milled to begin with, you will not be happy with the results of cooking in it. This is particularly true for 'new' cooks, I think.

                                                                  ETA: sorry, I 'replied' to the wrong poster; meant to reply to dixiegal. Chowhound wont' let me edit.

                                                                  1. re: dixiegal

                                                                    I have 4 main pieces of cast iron cookware:....2 fry pans and two dutch ovens. They are all over 40 years old. I don't know if I agree with your assessment that 'rough' cast iron becomes smoother with age. My two fry pans and one dutch oven were properly milled when new.....nice and smooth and have served me well for all these years. The fourth piece, a dutch oven, was, is and in my opinion....will always be rough no matter how much I use it. It NEVER wears smooth. I suppose I could take a grinding tool to it.......but, I digress. I highly endorse using cast iron cookware but if you buy a new or old/used/antique/vintage piece and it is not properly milled to begin with, you will not be happy with the results of cooking in it. This is particularly true for 'new' cooks, I think.

                                                                    ETA: sorry, I 'replied' to the wrong poster; meant to reply to dixiegal. Chowhound wont' let me edit.

                                                                  2. re: artist1

                                                                    It also absorbs the smell which can transfer to some dishes.

                                                                  3. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                    you are correct- dishwashing soap will not hurt a cast iron skillet if it is well seasoned. might take off some of the seasoning only if it is a newer seasoning.

                                                                    so be careful until your pan is seasoned, then go ahead and use dish soap on it if you like.

                                                                    there is a great post on Gardenweb about the way the "don't use soap" rumors got started.

                                                                  4. re: motownbrowne

                                                                    I'd be careful with the: "... once I heat the pan up to 350, there's nothing left to hurt you..." As an aside, Prions (an interesting disease causing protein structure, those responsible for Mad Cow Disease) have been reported to survive temperatures of over 600 C (that's over 1k F). So no, your cast iron isn't perfectly safe at 350; depending on what you made the night before, however, you'll most likely be Ok.

                                                                    1. re: mateo21

                                                                      So you think mere dishwashing soap can kill prions? Muhuhahaha!

                                                                      1. re: zogness

                                                                        Answering for mateo. Not kill, but wash - remove. When a chemist washes a reaction flask, he is not trying to kill anything, he is removing the compounds. When a person take a bath, he is not trying to kill anything neither. At least I don't think of a shower or a bath in that way.

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                          Yep there also an issue with the protein film that can form on surfaces, especially when hot water contacts the surface. It's the scrubbing and water that abrades the dirt, protein, contaminates that does the good work of reucing pathogen load. Prions and the wasting diseases are fascinating things. Absolutely terrifying and fascinating. They aren't truly alive just mere pieces of proteins.
                                                                          So let's all scrub our cast iron with sand and wash well with water and we should be good to go. Salt is good too.

                                                                      2. re: mateo21

                                                                        Yikes, talk about the "Sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Do you have ANY documentation of Prions being on household cookware and causing problems?!

                                                                        1. re: toddster63

                                                                          Interesting.. One blog that was shut down 'LE Cruset vs Staub" where one poster actually berated me for suggesting you wash your CI with soap and water.. She actually mentioned that Lodge told her so. I usually heat my CI to at least 400 before cooking in it. Does this kill the Prions? Why are there no reported cases (as far as I know) of any diseases linked to CI care? CI has been around for over 100 years. Let's see come documentations. My sister once did water quality tests in some Wisconsin high schools and found the drinking fountains to carry more bugs than the water in the toilet tank yet that are no linked health problems.
                                                                          As for Wagner starting up again, I compare Wagner and Lodge like William Sonoma and Walmart. Wagner could not compete with Lodge way back because Wagner took the time to polish the inside of their CI. Lodge just take it out of the sand cast and sell it. Today with so much snobbery, I believe Wagner would be a huge success and eat into Lodge's market share.

                                                                2. re: Candy

                                                                  Thanks for the gasp admission :) I don't submerge mine but I do take the orange Tuffy that's in the hot soapy water and scrub it out.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    If something sticks to one of my CI pans (and they do every so often), I put hot water in it, bring it to a boil for a coupla of minutes, and scrub the pan with a nylon scrub brush. no soap. Rinse well, dry, set over a low flame until dry, and rubv lard into it once or twice. then I make sure not to cook anything at risk of sticking in it until i"ve reseasoned it to my liking.

                                                                    I've asked this before, and don't recall there being an answer or consensus- is mineral oil a good substance to use on CI? I got some to use on a couple of soapstone pots, and was wondering if it would season case iron as well. It wouldn't get all sticky like vegetable oil or Crisco or go rancid like lard or veg oil after a long period of nonuse, but does it work?

                                                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                                                      I scrub my CI with a paper towel and Kosher salt and I really like how it works. But if I had a really bad sticky place, I go ahead and use a scrubby to scrub it off. If I had to I'd use dish detergent. I could reseason the pan after. The seasoning isn't sacred or anything. You are right--you'd take care to make sure the seasoning was replaced.

                                                                      On the mineral oil, I don't know. I know people used to take mineral oil for a laxative (not recommended any more) so I know it isn't poisonous, and it is tasteless, no? Does it have a high smoke point? If not, I wouldn't use it. But I'm just guessing here.

                                                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                                                        I don't think mineral oil is such a hot idea for cast iron. Mineral oil IS good for maintaining wooden kitchen stuff, like counters, cutting boards, knife handles and wooden spoons. I think they best curing medium for cast iron is a food-grade sat fat, like bacon grease, lard or tallow -- or, if you're veggie, coconut oil. HTH.

                                                                    2. re: Candy

                                                                      I always wondered what that sticky residue was, now I know. Thank you Candy! Now I can go fix that dutch oven that's all dusty, and grotty from the last camping trip. I do have a nicely seasoned el-cheapola CI griddle that I can do pancakes on without any more than a swipe of oil at the start. That's a beautiful thing. And using the oven self-clean cycle mentioned by another poster - genius!!!! Rusty, rough CI, sand paper and steel wool baby. I use sandpaper a lot in the kitchen for cheap wooden spoons too. They end up lopvely and smooth, finished with mineral oil...ah.

                                                                      1. re: aggiecat

                                                                        We split the interesting wooden spoon conversation to its own thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771255

                                                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                          (okay, then I haven't lost my mind yet...I was looking at that in the "my threads" list trying to remember when I posted to it!)

                                                                    3. Hi Ambimom,

                                                                      The reason there is so much discussion is because there is widespread disparity of knowledge and experiences among those like me, who have gotten into the cast iron game relatively recently, and those of us who have been cooking with old cast iron pans for decades. For the old timers, the benefits are readily apparent. For the newbies, not so much.

                                                                      There is most definitely a lack of good, consistent information about cast iron... not just care and maintenance, but also about modern vs. old manufacturing techniques. There's lots of hearsay and individual testimonies on Chowhound and otherwise, and very little definitive information on the topic from reliable, qualified, independently verified sources.

                                                                      Case in point, I do not agree with your assertion that all seasoning methods work. For years, I was adding too much oil to season my pans, and they were acquiring a tacky, sticky surface which made EVERYTHING stick. Although I could sear steaks on it, the idea of cooking eggs on it was a joke. And although I have changed my seasoning method based on advice from countless internet threads and have used my Lodge cast iron pan weekly for years, it in no way can cook eggs without some serious sticking going on.

                                                                      For those of us who got in late to the cast iron game, that's pretty much the full extent of our experience... sticky Lodge pans with rough textured surfaces.

                                                                      I couldn't understand the love for cast iron until a recent visit to Panama where I cooked with a 50 year old cast iron skillet (with a surface as smooth and slippery as new Teflon). It was miraculous to me.... after years of dealing with the rough surface, the stickiness, the burnt eggs, I had no idea... no concept... no indication *at all* that cast iron could be this great. Finally it made sense to me.

                                                                      So the question I have for you, Ambimom, is this... are you really saying that you have first hand experience converting a modern, pebble textured Lodge cast iron skillet into a teflon-smooth, totally nonstick surface like the 50 year old skillet I used in Panama? If so, I'd very much like to know because this could fundamentally change my perception of cast iron (again).

                                                                      Thanks for your input

                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                      43 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                        In a word Mr. Taster, yes I have. When I got my first cast iron pan, I, too had sticky goo on them because I hadn't really understood how to maintain them. For a time I actually gave up in frustration, not really knowing what I was doing wrong, but then one day I needed a frying pan the size of my Lodge to make some sort of pancake thingy and I used it again. It did have stuff stick, but I cleaned the goo with plain, ordinary table salt and water. The pan was cleaned easily, I wiped it dry, wiped a teaspoon of oil on the surfaces, reheated it on the stove for a few minutes and put it away when it cooled.

                                                                        I began cooking in that pan and I became a believer. The more I used it, the smoother and smoother and blacker and blacker the finish. I started buying other pieces; and I was hooked.

                                                                        I did originally oil them after each wash and dry, but after a while I stopped doing that too. They all have a matte, black finish and those "nubs" in the original cast iron pans are virtually invisible now.

                                                                        The non-stick properties are a chemical process that I don't really understand but suffice it to say that it has something to do with heat and oil reacting to each other.

                                                                        They are heavy....very heavy...and most likely a lot heavier than those vintage pans everyone raves about, but they are every bit as non-stick as those TFal Teflon pans I gave away in order to build my cast iron collection.

                                                                        I use cast iron every day for everything. I swear by it. The reason those pans you appreciated lasted 50 years is because cast iron is not as "precious fragile" as you may have been led to believe...

                                                                        And when I say all seasoning works...I mean it. I found my method and you will find yours. I've never used lard in my life; I don't eat bacon; I use olive oil and canola oil so that's how I season. I own a plastic pot scraper I got as a free gift for attending a home cooking show; I own a box of salt; that's how I clean mine.

                                                                        1. re: Ambimom

                                                                          If you are not going to use the good stuff, lard or bacon, then use Crisco. Canola is especially bad for cast iron pans. It does leave a very sticky residue that is very difficult to remove.

                                                                          BTW, unless it is because of religious reasons that you don't use pork products, you may be surprised to find out that some pork fat is actually good for you and has many of the same compounds in its make up that olive oil has. For good health one should avoid fats that are hard (beef, lamb etc) at room temperature. They are the fats that are highest in cholesterol

                                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                                            Candy and any others that care to weigh in, I've heard that most bacon fat contains sugars and salt that can be bad for the pans over time, and it's hard to tell which bacon fat is good v s bad in this respect. Thoughts?

                                                                            1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                              I buy my lard from as local farmer. It is pure rendered lard. Nothing added and no partially hydrogenated fats. I also keep goose and duck fat on hand from roasting the birds. No sugar added nor salt. The bacon i buy is from Broadbent's in KY. No nitrates or nitrites. Some may have some sugar added depending on the cure. i was using their cinnamon dusted bacon last weekend to make Bourbon-Maple-Bacon ice cream. The bacon was candied by me with brown sugar. It was essential

                                                                              1. re: Candy

                                                                                Boy that sounds good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                1. re: Candy

                                                                                  Could/would you post that over on the HC board? It sounds fantastic.

                                                                                  1. re: Candy

                                                                                    I have got to find a local source for lard. (You know, it never even crossed my mind to check the local amish market for it - I'll have to run over there today & check it out.)

                                                                                    Bourbon-Maple-Bacon ice cream with candied bacon? OMG.

                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                      I buy it by the pound at my Latino market. Snow white. The butcher their own meat so I can buy nose to tail.

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        We have a few latino markets in the area. I'll have to check them out. Thanks!

                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                          our local Hispanic markets have it in tubs, sitting on the top of the butcher case, but it's not white. Sort of creamy colored. Rendered from the vast amounts of carnitas they sell, I suppose.

                                                                                      2. re: Candy

                                                                                        Thanks, Candy. Do you ever use the bacon for seasoning, and if so, any effects from the sugar? Is there no salt in the bacon?

                                                                                        1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                          I do save bacon grease for seasoning especially green beans and greens. I also keep country ham chunks on hand (also from Broadbent's) for seasoning. i was just checking the labels, the cure they use on their ham and bacon does use some sugar in it. I'd be surprised if it didn't.

                                                                                          I have never had any effects from the sugar, it is minimal and is usually in the cure and rubbed on the outside of the meat. Most bacon, sadly, has had the rind removed.

                                                                                          I love using bacon fat in my skillet or cornstick pans. It has never harmed them in any way. It has long been suggested that with a new cast iron skillet that you use it for cooking bacon to get is seasoned.

                                                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                                                            I just fried up some leftover mashed potatoes in duck fat this morning. Very tasty.

                                                                                      3. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                        iyc_nyc

                                                                                        Candy and any others that care to weigh in, I've heard that most bacon fat contains sugars and salt that can be bad for the pans over time, and it's hard to tell which bacon fat is good v s bad in this respect. Thoughts?

                                                                                        I've only heard that about non-stick pans not cast iron, but I can't find any info about it now, and I always use bacon fat in my ci

                                                                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                          Wash your mouth out with soap! I just don't and don't want to believe that. It also doens't make sense to me. If you cook bacon in CI and you don't 'wash' the pan then wouldn't that be the same as seasoning? Also I've cooked bacon in nonstick pans for decades with no seeming harm. Say it ain't so, somebody :)

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            I washing my mouth out as I type, just not soap , I can't find any info that bacon hurts N S but my mother swears it does, As far as ci goes I just drain the excess bacon fat for later use (or for the dogs) rinse it out under hot water and back to the heat, it works for me , I'd take a pic but my wife thinks i'm f**ked up already I don't need to prove it

                                                                                            1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                              I'm washing my mouth out with red wine :) Bob also thinks/knows I'm nuts esp. when taking pix of pots and pans.

                                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Not so.. bacon is great for cast iron.. the salt is good for it too.. not enough sugar to matter, Sugar cannot damage the iron ever, but it can remove some seasoning. I bake upside down cake in mine all the time and then just simply season on the stove top and its great again.. The reason I use pure lard for seasoning is that it burns at higher temp than oils and therefore I can get the pot smokin hot, opening the iron more to receive the seasoning.

                                                                                              1. re: artist1

                                                                                                I use an old CI 8" skillet (it came with my husband nearly 37? years ago) to make caramel. Another IC suggestion, Salted Caramel ice cream, to swoon over! The sugar has never harmed the skillet's surface. In all of this time I have only taken the drastic step and have cleaned it in the self cleaning cycle in oven. The cooking surface is mirror smooth. and it just keeps cooking.

                                                                                          2. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                            I've heard that about bacon fat, too- several times. It makes sense to me, especially when there are so many alternatives.

                                                                                            1. re: Candy

                                                                                              @Candy: I reiterate: I beg you, can we stop all this hand-wringing and snobbery about cast iron. I'm not dictating to you about what is correct. When asked, I've shared what works for me. Please accord me and others the same courtesy. BTW, I've used canola oil for six years and have not a hint of sticky residue.

                                                                                              1. re: Ambimom

                                                                                                And, see, I threw out my bottle of canola oil cause I hate the smell.

                                                                                                1. re: Ambimom

                                                                                                  You are lucky. I am in the business and counsel new buyers on care and use. No snobbery on my part, just common sense.

                                                                                                2. re: Candy

                                                                                                  Let me ask you, Candy, about the lard and bacon. I'd been using olive oil simply because it's always at hand. Last time I used lard. When it cooled, the 'finish' was cloudy - as one would expect when an animal fat cools. Is that just a cosmetic issue? I've gotten used to shiny :)

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    Cosmetic. I just keep wiping it out. I will not cook in a "dirty" pan.

                                                                                                  2. re: Candy

                                                                                                    I use canola oil in my iron skillets. I scrub them with kosher salt. They are beautifully oiled and do not have a sticky residue.

                                                                                                    Also not sure how eating pork fat is good for you. Surely the stuff in pork fat that is supposed to be healthy can be gotten more healthfully from other natural sources?

                                                                                                  3. re: Ambimom

                                                                                                    I asked this q elsewhere, but would love your thoughts on whether the 'nubs' in the newer CI will wear away over time to lead to a more 'permanently' smooth surface, or if it's solely the seasoning that evens out the bumps over time. If the latter, the newer CI is less appealing to me just based on my anticipation of having to strip and reason every so often - i.e., it's a less permanent fix.

                                                                                                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                      I've only owned my cast iron skillet for a couple of years and haven't re-seasoned it. Whenever I'm in a store that carries them, I take a look at the new ones to see how far mine has progressed. I don't know for sure, but intuitively I feel that a lot of the smootheness is permanent - I somehow doubt I built up THAT thick a layer of seasoning.

                                                                                                      1. re: sherrib

                                                                                                        Ok, thanks. I guess we're ingesting some iron nubs in the process then!

                                                                                                        Ambimom, since you feel so strongly about how great the pans even out, can you please answer this question? I think I've asked twice now and I see you're still on this thread. :-)

                                                                                                      2. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                        With cast iron that does not have a machined surface it depends on your utensils. If you use metal utensils you are going to get some wear over time. But normally what will occur is a combination of seasoning filling in the depressions and the eventual wearing down of the peaks by metal utensils.

                                                                                                        Lodge does use a smoothing process but it isn't machined. If you want it smoother, sanding can help.

                                                                                                        Stripping down periodically and seasoning is subjective and a personal choice. Under normal use and care I think it should be rare. But we all know things can happen that may necessitate stripping and seasoning. I look at this as a plus for cast iron, you can try different methods of seasoning and in all but extreme circumstances or will full destruction, you can get cast iron back to a usable state in little time.

                                                                                                          1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                                            You have articulated beautifully what I have tried to say/post earlier. Can't over emphasize the importance of a machine milled piece.

                                                                                                        1. re: Ambimom

                                                                                                          Heres what happens when you season a pan. As the metal heats up it expands and fissures or pores as some like to call them. open up in the metal. The hotter the metal the larger the fissures. As you rub the oil, i use lard, over the whole surface it seeps into the fissures and then once cooled the fissures close up and trap the oil in the metal and this is seasoning. Any left over oil should be wiped totally away as its only surface oil and can become sticky. Remember hot hot hot!

                                                                                                          1. re: Ambimom

                                                                                                            They're not "precious fragile" but we did have the handle of one snap off when well packed for an airplane trip. It must have taken a direct hit somehow. And it's vintage so may have suffered an injury and subsequent loss of integrity along the way.

                                                                                                          2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                            That was my experience, too. One day, after using my 12" Lodge skillet for around 8-9 months every day, it was smooth as butter. My dutch oven and smaller skillet are still a little bumpy, but they don't get used.

                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                              Wow I lucked out with my ci pans , lard or bacon fat and they were non-stick in a year , but this cleaning with salt i've never heard of, also when I use my oven for anything I heat up a ci pan and throw it in the oven at the highest rack and leave it there till the next day

                                                                                                              1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                                Dave, what is the latter for -- is this to continue the seasoning process, and if so, do you add fat/lard each time?

                                                                                                                Also, do you store your CI pans in the oven?

                                                                                                                1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                                                                  I like to think i'm continuing the seasoning process, it seems to work. I don't add the fat/lard because I leave a healthy(unhealthy) amount in the pan everytime i'm done with it then when I go to use it the next time I wipe it out if need be. I try not to store them in the oven but on occasion they get left in

                                                                                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                Mr Taster, I did learn on this board, that if you want your new cast iron to be smooth instantly, just grind it smooth with something suitable for for smoothing out metal.

                                                                                                                My husband even suggested the same thing.

                                                                                                                I never tried it, because it isn't that important to me. After several layers of seasoning and a little use, mine are non-stick enough for me. They don't have to be perfectly smooth to have the non-stck like properties.

                                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                  Seasoning cast iron and steel pans is key to easy food release and most all of the seasoning advice and techniques have a basis in the chemistry of varnish making. The coating that is most durable on your pan is a highly polymerized hard coating of oil. Varnish makers add something called drying agents to their linseed and tung oil varnishes and the drier is made from metals like cobalt, iron, chromium etc. The linseed oil is boiled at very high temps just like the seasoning process used on cast iron pans and then blown with air to effect the polymerization and oxidation of the oil. After cooling and adding solvents to thin it out, it is canned and sold as an oil varnish. Now to link that process to seasoning your cherished pan, you can scrub with coarse salt to make tiny iron particles and wipe with oil to leave a thin film. Heating in an oven or on the top of your stove starts the polymerization and the tiny iron particles help catalyze a nice hard film of seasoning. If oil film is too thick, oxygen in the air can't penetrate and the film will be sticky or weak and scrub off in the next wash.

                                                                                                                  So the mystery of seasoning is based on real chemistry after all. Drying oils are linseed (flax seed for food), walnut, soy and corn and canola oils. Crisco works more slowly as it has been chemically changed to melt at a higher temperature and this affects the polymerization process. Animal fats work too, duck and goose fat make for a very hard coating. A well seasoned hard coated cast iron pan has a very inert coating that will not scrub off with repeated use and will not go rancid.

                                                                                                                  I have reseasoned many silicone and teflon coated steel bakeware pieces that lost their release performance from years of use. I restored these sheet and loaf pans by scrubbing the surface until bright with scotchbrite coarse and fine pads and then seasoning with corn oil until a deep mahogany brown. The freshly exposed metal and fine scratches allow the seasoning to bond securely to the surface and perform well with a single application. Loss of release means another wipedown with a small piece of paper towel containing vegetable oil of choice. Bake out at 350-400 F for an hour followed by a final set at 450 F for 30 minutes is my choice of time and temperature. Lower temperature bakeout requires a longer time but may produce a more uniform seasoning.
                                                                                                                  The fastest and most painful way to produce a glass smooth finish in any modern rough finish cast iron pan is to grind it smooth with abrasives before seasoning it. Most of the older cast iron pans were ground smooth as part of the finishing process at the factory. A 4 1/2" grinder and a series of graded automotive abrasive discs starting at A40 and going A180 should produce a nice smooth finish on the bottom of the pan. The sides will require a flap wheel or grease based grinding compounds or you risk cutting into the wall of your pan. Work outside and wear eye protection and dust masks for safety. Of course you can let time and repeated seasoning fill those depressions without resorting to a tedious session of grinding cast iron with power tools and expensive abrasive discs.

                                                                                                                2. Well, Ambimom, see what you've done now! This is a hoot.

                                                                                                                  1. What is there about this simple thing--seasoning cast iron? (rhetorical question)

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                      What? I have no idea what this means or what rhetorical point you're trying to make...

                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                    2. If you are going to use today's cast iron cookware, there is a quicker way to get a nice smooth, seasoned surface. That is by sanding down the rough cooking surface before seasoning. Get a 5" sanding disc that fits on your electric drill. Start out with all-purpose 80 grit and finish with 150. Then proceed with seasoning using Crisco.

                                                                                                                      PS: What is the fun of having fine Griswolds if we can't feel superior about it? I think I'll go admire mine now . . .

                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: terlin

                                                                                                                        Don't forget Wagnerware. I had one of the Wagner family members in the shop in the past year. Wagnerware and Griswold cast iron are treasures!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                          I gave a piece of wagnerware away to some newly married friends. I didn't like how it heated and cooked as much as the no-name antique iron that I use daily. I told them if they ever stop using it that I'll happily take it back.

                                                                                                                          1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                                            I'm dealing with a "no-name" DO. I may be asking for advice on this. The self-cleaning cycle did a good bit of good but not enough.

                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                              I remember reading something about oven cleaner or lye or something that will strip everything from iron. That was a few years ago but I bet the site could still be found somewhere.

                                                                                                                              I remember using a stainless putty knife to chip gunk off the outside and inside vertical edges of the wagner pan several years ago.

                                                                                                                              1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                                                I use the plastic scraper that came with my pizza stone, that works great for the tough bits

                                                                                                                                1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                                                  For general cleaning, I use the scrubby side of a sponge or a nylon brush. That was referring to removing 1-2cm thick million year old layers of buildup.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                                                      Dave. That just proves you don't cook enough. Some people only get 1 mm the most, but some people can get a 1 cm thick. The best get 1 m or more.

                                                                                                                                      :P

                                                                                                                                    2. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                                                      Oh- speaking of which, when I was in my mid-20s I visited an old roommate in Alaska, Kenai area. She had this pinheaded roommate that had a cast iron pan he kept on the stove, at least three times he warned us against washing it- 'takes away all the seasoning'. I looked at the skillet, and damn if there wasn't a good 1/8th of an inch or more of burnt, carbonized food stuck to the cooking surface! Apparently whenever he cooked something in it, he'd dislodge enough of the burnt food under it to release what he was cooking when he scraped a spatula under it, therefore making him a culinary legend in his own mind.

                                                                                                                        2. the pan I inherited was first used in/on a wood stove and scrubbed out with homemade soap (lye, anyone?) and sand.

                                                                                                                          I'm not fussed.

                                                                                                                          1. We've split a discussion about grinding meat with a KitchenAid attachment to its own thread; you can find it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/768872

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                              Thanks much. I've been looking at earlier threads to try and get more direction...found myself on it.

                                                                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                                ...??? how in the world did a meat grinding topic get started here?

                                                                                                                                Curious, curious chowhound minds! ;^)

                                                                                                                                1. The first CI piece I ever bought was a no-name dutch oven from a hardware store in Sonora, CA for $14, a very big investment for me at the time (ca. 1970). The first thing cooked in it was my girlfriend's lamb stew, over a campfire, when we were on our way up the coast to Oregon. The rest of the stew rode in there another hundred miles or so, and was re-heated the next night. That pot never did get properly seasoned, had all kinds of tomatoey stuff cooked in it, and is still used whenever I need a vessel of that size and character. I'm sure it's going to outlast me, in spite of all that mistreatment …

                                                                                                                                  19 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                                    I'm with you, Will...I have visions of all the pioneer men and women who settled North America laughing their ghostly butts off at the idea of all of this fussing over the same type of pans that they cooked with over an open fire, buried in the coals, washed out with leftover coffee and sand, and threw in the back of their wagon or tied to their saddle where it was exposed to the elements until the next meal.

                                                                                                                                    They'd be flamed right off of this thread for it, too.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                      No one is getting flamed off... not this thread anyway. In fact this thread is about not flaming people off.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                          :D

                                                                                                                                          Ha ha ha. You have a very good sense of humor.

                                                                                                                                          It is my undersrtanding that this original poster Ambimom was trying to say that people have different opinions on cast iron cookware and that people shouldn't be too snobbery about it -- like a cast iron cookware has to be seasoned specifically by this oil, at this temperature for this duration. Therefore, this thread is about not pushing/flaming people off.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                            You are exactly right! I'm reading the subsequent posts with a combination of hysterical laughter and horror. I cannot help speculating that all these CI "experts" don't ever actually cook a meal except on special occasions and never in their cast iron except for their one special signature dish.

                                                                                                                                            I GIVE UP!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ambimom

                                                                                                                                              Hey no giving up. If you do then people might think you have tossed your cast iron and replaced it all with teflon.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                                                                                My cast iron came out of the trash. Someone had apparently not known how to take care of it, or it had been sitting in a damp basement for a decade or two. In any case, I got a couple of different sizes of pans, all covered with rust! I scrubbed off the rust, rubbed the things with some kind of fat (no, I don't remember what kind!), baked them in the oven at low heat for a while, and then started cooking with them. I don't know the brand, but they're great. Plus they add iron to foods cooked in them, a good thing, especially for vegetarians who may be trying to get enough iron without meat.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Ambimom

                                                                                                                                                Well I certainly hope you are not referring to me.. rather snobbish of you to judge anyone who does not agree with you. Its ok that I dont like your MIC cast iron. Its my personal choice and its nothing against you personally. If you like it and use it, thats all that should matter to you. My opinion is just that and you have no right to attack it. snobbish for sure..

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: artist1

                                                                                                                                                    Artist1--
                                                                                                                                                    geeshh it just took me 7 min to figure out what MIC is, I was getting ready to ask,

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                                                                      I have no idea what MIC stands for. Irresponsible usage of obscure acronyms has been discussed at length here:

                                                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/555190

                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                        >I have no idea what MIC stands for.

                                                                                                                                                        Made in China

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                          Please forgive me, I am new to the list and I did use it in earlier posts on this subject after writing it all out. Made in China..

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: artist1

                                                                                                                                                            Shoot- I thought it meant "made in Cucamonga".

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics,

                                                                                                                                                    The word is "snobbish"

                                                                                                                                              3. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                LOL and I must agree with you..Makes you wonder how it all survived to be so desirable today.. maybe we do fuss way too much..

                                                                                                                                                1. re: artist1

                                                                                                                                                  *Makes you wonder how it all survived to be so desirable today..*

                                                                                                                                                  That is the funniest thing anybody's said on this thread, artist1- I love it.

                                                                                                                                              4. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                                                Yes, CI is nearly indestructible - assuming you keep rust away.

                                                                                                                                                Most of the talk about a perfect seasoning addresses the expectations of people replacing non-stick pans, and expect the CI to produce no-stick fried eggs out of the box.

                                                                                                                                              5. I get such a chuckle when I see this thread topic and the rapidly increasing number of replies! How high will it go? ANd with a bit of luck about 6 months after it finally simmers down, someone will post to it and launch it again. :-)

                                                                                                                                                1. All I can say about these endless CI debates is this... whenever I read one, it makes me want to run home and cook something in one of my two Lodge skillets (or both!). So keep them coming!

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. A not-uncommon problem with unenameled cast iron is unwanted flavor "ghosting" into other dishes. Aromatics and smoked bacon are the biggest offenders for obvious reasons.

                                                                                                                                                    High carbon steel is a vast improvement over cast iron. Smooth out of the box, porosity not a problem, seasoning not a problem (happens almost instantly), no more expensive than cast iron, no flavor ghosting, easily tolerates a gentle soap and water cleanup without losing seasoning, much, much more supple heat exchange - just heavy enough for the task (de Buyer, Matfer Bourgeat).

                                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                        :) Paul, I started that thread so that the new carbon steel users can exchange information and work out potential problems together. Look back at that thread, most of the responds are very friendly. No one said anything along the line of "if you don't bake this cookware at 450oF with goose fat for exactly 2 hours, then you are wrong", and no one wrote "if you don't buy the DeBuyer brand, then you are buying junks".

                                                                                                                                                        Whereas we know the some people's attitude toward cast iron and especially enameled cast iron is much more absolute.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                          Actually my 'snobbery' comment had more to do with Charlie's enthusiasm than any contents of your thread. I've contributed my share to the pro-carbon steel talk.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: CharlieTheCook

                                                                                                                                                        I'm not aware of any ghosts in my cast iron. But I'll keep an eye out :)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                          Tee hee...

                                                                                                                                                          Lucy

                                                                                                                                                          P.S. Do I need to watch my Aebleskiver pan for Danish ghosts???

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                                                                                                                                            Oh, sheesh, I haveTWO vintage aebleskiver pans! Now I'm really worried :)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                                                                                                                                              I have a non-vintage abilskiver pan that I've never used because it somehow has a blob of rust on it. I'm going to obliterate the surface of it (when I find it) and totally reseason it, THEN, by God, I'm going to make aebleskivers, or maybe takoyaki. But the surface will be smooth as glass, you betcha, ya sure. :-)

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                              actually, I wish mine DID have ghosts -- I'd LOVE to hear the stories of the conversations it has seen and heard across the generations (my pan was my great-grandmother's, and my grandmother used it every day of her life)

                                                                                                                                                          2. Just out of curiosity, raise your hand if you own only cast iron fry pans and none other, he says smiling w/ his hand raised. Raise 'em high so I can count 'em please.

                                                                                                                                                            The Cast Iron Keg

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                              hand held high (since 1974--oops, is that being snobby?).

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                CIK-
                                                                                                                                                                I don't have a "set" of anything. Even flatware, although that wasn't intentional.
                                                                                                                                                                Buying all one thing because it's the latest greatest is such a sign of being a dilettante- not talking about your fry pans, I once knew a gal who got rid of all her pots and pans and got a complete set of those brown glass Corning pots and pans. I wonder how that worked out.

                                                                                                                                                                Does it count if I have a ton of CI fry pans that are in the garage somewhere but I'm not sure exactly where? In addition to the few I have in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                  I would never limit myself to owning just one kind of pan or dish or any other kitchen cookware. No fun. But I applaud your discipline, loyalty.

                                                                                                                                                                2. There is science behind not using soap on a cast iron pan:

                                                                                                                                                                  Soap molecules have polar and non-polar structures. In addition, water molecules are polar, while oil molecules are non-polar. When all mixed together, the soap acts as an emulsifier, binding the oil and water together into components called micelles. Because micelles trap the "oil" part at the center of the molecule, and leave the "water" part on the outside, they become water soluble.

                                                                                                                                                                  By using soap and water, you're essentially pulling the oil used to make that awesome seasoning right off of the pan and forming micelles, which, being water soluble, are easily washed away.

                                                                                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: schoenfelderp

                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting. But, again, I use soap and water to wash my pans if I need to, and I have no trouble whatsoever with them & use mine, if not daily, at least a few times a week. It works for me, so I really don't care about the science. It's not like it's a life and death matter.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                        This is funny. The only time soap hits the cast iron is if my science teaceher SIL is visiting, and she is doing the dishes. Even if I ask her, she cannot not use soap, so she ruins the surface and I re-season it. She is germ-a-phobic and despite my reasoning that the heat in the pan will kill anything, it must be soaped!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                          Again, and again and again - maybe it ruins the surface of your pans - but I don't have any trouble with mine. I don't scrub them to death for pete's sake. But I'm just not cooking in dirty pans. Just not. And experience is all I need to know that it works for me. Years of experience.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                            Isn't cast iron great??? So easy so healthy. Hot spots, what hot spots?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                              Flourgirl--
                                                                                                                                                                              How do you figure it's dirty if it doesn't see soap/detergent , what makes it "dirty", I don't care if you soap it up or not it doesn't matter to me, I just don't get how it's dirty if you wash it out with hot water and a clean sponge . On a side note my step daughter on more than one occasion filled the cast pans with detergent and left them to soak for 8 hrs , I just rinsed them really well and reheated and oiled and we never got any "soapy" taste from them and didn't need to reseason them either.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                              Does she have any other obsessive-compulsive traits?

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: schoenfelderp

                                                                                                                                                                            So far as I know, Dawn dishwashing liquid is detergent, not soap. It's what I use on my cast iron griddle, aebleskiver pan and everything else.

                                                                                                                                                                            Trust me, you definitely don't want any sticking in an aebleskiver pan.

                                                                                                                                                                            Lucy

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: schoenfelderp

                                                                                                                                                                              The only oil that may be pulled off the pan with soap is the oil that you were cooking in the pan. The baked on seasoning will still be there. Though I often use soap and water to wash my cast iron, I also periodically bake on a new coat of grease.
                                                                                                                                                                              Sorry, but I am not using dirty pans. It just isn't necassary.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                                                                                                                I do what you and others do. But I always 're-lipid-ize' :) the pan afterwards. It's not that I consider it dirty as in unsanitary (I live in a magic house after all) but I don't want flavors carried over from one dish to another.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, good point about the flavors carrying over. Most of the time, I don't have a problem with that because I usually just cook beef, pork, chicken, and the flavors don't really carry unless I use a lot of seasoning. But fish does. I do wash very well after cooking fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                  If I cook somehting that doesn't really stick (like roasted potatoes or eggs) I usually just rinse wipe with hot water. I don't like leaving much oil in the skillet(I wash most of it out unless I will be using the skillet again very soon) because it does go rancid if it isn't baked on. At least that is my experiance.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: dixiegal

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll have to look into that. You bring up a good point, something I hadn't thought of when I wrote that first explanation, but it needs reasoning behind it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Here's what I missed: Seasoning an a cast iron pan with oil, if done correctly, polymerizes the fats (that's your "baked on seasoning").

                                                                                                                                                                                  Next step: Research how soap/detergent reacts with this.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't mean to continue the argument (because I don't think it is one), but I don't think soap is necessarily required to get a pan clean. Typically what I do is scrub out the pan with a bamboo wok brush, which I own for exactly this purpose, then boil a bit of water in the pan (half inch or so), then rescrub, then dry over the burner. Wipe out after that, if necessary. Between the scrub, the boil and the drying, there's nothing on the pan anymore. If necessary, I'll put a *tiny* bit of oil in it and leave it on the heat for 5 or 10 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                    That's clean, in my mind. It's probably cleaner than a standard pan that's just had warm soapy water swished around by a sponge.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: egit

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd think that boiling water in it would 'unseason' it more than a quick swish with soap and water. When I do the latter, it still has the shiny, oily surface.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                        It doesn't, though, and removes the odd really-stuck-on food. Oil and heat afterwards.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: dixiegal

                                                                                                                                                                                      I totally agree with this. That's why sometimes I use soap and sometimes just water. I do find that I shouldn't lightly scrub too long if I use detergent; it does work quickly to remove seasoning. So, I normally use the liquid hand soap I keep at the kitchen sink. Works fine when done quickly with one of those thin, green scrub thingy's.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I have appreciated all of the cast iron threads over the past couple of years. I grew up in a home with no cast iron, neither my mother nor my grandmothers cooked with cast iron pans. My family is Jewish from eastern Europe - not sure if it is the religion or the locale that might have influenced their choice of cookware. I bought a cast iron skillet a couple of years ago and rarely used it. I would like to use it more and I enjoy these discussions very much. I have learned a lot, the information that I feel I can use I use, and the rest I read just out of interest.

                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Linda513

                                                                                                                                                                                      Same here - and no one in my family used cast iron pans either, at least not to my knowledge. I can still remember how astonished my mom was when I picked out some cast iron pans when she was helping me shop for my first apartment with my new husband 19 years ago (very small wedding, no registry and no bridal shower - I didn't want it.) I know she thought I was nuts - and I have to admit it took me a long time to get around to using them, because I was kind of intimidated about the whole seasoning process (and there was no internet than like there is now). But I love them now and I'm very glad I bought them. In fact, I even bought one more a few years ago, a 12" pan, because the 10" I had wasn't big enough for three of us. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mom used to make the best fried chicken (potato pancakes too) in cast iron; maybe this is why I love it so.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                          Had to LOL when I read about your cast iron wedding pans.. I was born the oldest daughter of 6 kids to working parents, my mom always used CI and I learned to cook in it very early. Sometime later in the early 60s she got herself all new shiny pans and kicked most of the CI to the camping box, except for a skillet for cornbread.. It took me about a year to get it all back in the kitchen a piece at a time. When I married my second husband, his mother and sister felt so sorry for me having to use those heavy ugly black pans and not only bought me one set of Stainless steel pans, they bought me two.. Sold one and the dog still uses the big soup tureen from the other for his water.. that stuff has held up great for HIM....Some people just dont understand CI, but my sister in law has since started buying and using CI too..

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Linda513

                                                                                                                                                                                          If you really want to appreciate how good cast iron can be, get pre-WW2 vintage pans on ebay.

                                                                                                                                                                                          http://collectibles.shop.ebay.com/Cas...

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Linda513

                                                                                                                                                                                            I grew up without being exposed to cooking with CI. My decision to buy my first piece was influenced by the book 'You are all Sanpaku', a book about macrobiotic cooking. Educated me about the notion of non-stick cookware too. I appreciate my CI cookware for what it can do. I also use stainless a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Oh my this is like running a horse into the ground and THEN beating it to death! Is there really anymore to say about CI.. :Lets just all agree that were a bunch of closet cast iron snobs...Im done and fixing to go put a fork in it.. my roasted chicken and stuffing, that is!

                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: artist1

                                                                                                                                                                                              Come over to the dark side of the force.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: artist1

                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, I just looked and see that you're a brand new, baby Chowhound. Dark side indeed, P-keg. CI is one of a number of subjects that people get extremely passionate about here. Don't worry about it. Just avert your eyes when it becomes too much :)

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I just reread the OP and saw this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                "But here's what you don't know....the more those pans are used; the more they season, "

                                                                                                                                                                                                Hohoho :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I agree; they're great. Especially with stir fry, you can really crank up the heat and
                                                                                                                                                                                                  not have any issues but
                                                                                                                                                                                                  sadly,
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had to give all of mine away a few years back. Just too heavy for these
                                                                                                                                                                                                  carpal tunnel hands to use any longer. But they're great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: greenteadrinker

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh man, my condolences on both accounts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Have read all the posts and learned a lot. FYI, Cook's Illustrated (Jan. and Feb., 2011, p; 30) recommends a seasoning (or reseasoning) process using flaxseed oil and heating the pan upside down in a maximum oven for an hour and repeating this five times. Haven't tried it yet but the picture looks great and they claim you can run it through the dishwaher afterwards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                                                                                                        NO KIDDING.. There are too many purist who concentrate on the seasoning as to just cook in the pots.. These are after all, just tools of the trade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: LLLLaura

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hate to tell you this but I have old Wagner, and some Lodge (30 years) and have never done any ceremonial type seasoning of the CI. I initially seasoned with vegetable oil, cook in them, wash them with soap and water, heat them on the stove, wipe them with vegetable oil and heat some more.. My pans don't stick, but then I'm using them on a regular basis.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes rasputina, there is a difference withe the old Griswald, Wagner and Lodge. Lodge does not polish the inside. I like the polished inside as the food seem to slide better and you can use a metal spatula to scrape it clean if needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. As someone who owns 80+ year old Griswold and newer Lodge, I can tell the difference. Do they both cook food, yes. But they are still different. Since you don't have any vintage stuff, I'm not sure what makes you an authority on how it doesn't matter after all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. If you're talking plain cast. I don't see how there"s any "snobbery" involved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            The main appeal i seems to be nostalgia. If Granda used inferior pans.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            that,s what I'm going to use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There does seem to be some snobbery, as well as misplaced
                                                                                                                                                                                                            enthusiasm, when it comes to expensive enameled cast iron. The
                                                                                                                                                                                                            main appeals here are the high cost and the decorative effects,
                                                                                                                                                                                                            not the cooking qualities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ambimom has written since August, so you may not hear from her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              As you have said, this is true for enameled cast iron cookware, but that is also true for plain cast iron cookware as well. Most people who vouch for Griswold cast iron cookware are not arguing for nostalgia reasons, rather they argue these older cookware have better performance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I admit to being a snob about mine. I have four skillets and I use them for everything skillet. I did buy a big skillet that isn't CI for some reason, but I have only used it a couple of times as haven't found a need for it. A couple of mine were my grandmother's (and I am pushing 60 YO, so they are kind of old) and I think a couple I bought new. One took forever and a day to season; I think I finally resorted to advice from this board. Now they are all black and shiny as can be. I'm pretty much a vegetarian, so there's not a lot of bacon fat going in them and they are doing fine. Mainly they get some butter and olive oil. I love them and plan on handing them down to my kids when I kick the bucket. Then they can be CI snobs also, hee hee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kayandallie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                My best pan for frying = 12" cast iron pan. Used it last night for fried chicken. Scrubbed with
                                                                                                                                                                                                                soft plastic scrubber, no soap, clean as a whistle. I season it occasionally with flax seed oil, warm it on top of stove, put in oven at 350 for a couple of hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sweetfern