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Feb 25, 2014 05:58 PM

cast iron confusion

I've had cast iron skillets my whole life mostly lodge some unlabeled and one wok that could break a foot if dropped. And they've all been great but ever since becoming a chef all my peers seem to see griswolds as the pinnacle of cast irons. After trying a couple a friend of mine got in an auction I really couldn't tell any difference. What makes Griswold s so special besides the age?

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  1. I have not used the Griswolds personally, but I have read that the Griswold cast iron pans will have a smooth, machine ground interior that some people seem to prefer.

    As you know, the Lodge pans have a slightly rough cooking surface.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bakon

      I thought most, if not all, pans from the Griswold era were machined smooth. I have a couple of noname pans from the 70s that are machined.

      Lodge could machine theirs, but it would add to the cost. I think they are putting more effort into getting the molds right in the first place, followed by the preseasoning. (Machining not only smooths the surface, it removes molding imperfections).

    2. The finished surface is it. My mother has a barely used Griswold and it's a thing of beauty with its smoothly finished interior surface. The first time I saw a Lodge in a store I couldn't get over how crude it looked. From strictly a cooking perspective, I suppose fried chicken will turn out exactly the same in either. Nevertheless, I don't want a Lodge, I want my mother's Griswold.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GH1618

        Yup, it's the surface. When the skillet is seasoned properly and at the right temp, stuff just slides off.

      2. I have a bunch, ok a hoard, of older CI - Griswold, Wapak, Wagner etc. The older Griswold - (Erie Mark) Wagner and Wapak are very different skillets than a new Lodge - they are thiner, lighter, and the interior surface is milled smooth. The mid-centry ones compared to the early 20th century ones are a bit thicker walled but still milled smooth. These make up the bulk of my most used CI.

        There is debate as to weather these things make them cook better or not, I wont even begin to try to enter that discussion. I have seen claims that that the Iron from the Great Lakes regions was so pure it allowed for a much finer, and better cooking, product than is produced today.

        I buy into it but I am a sucker for old things

        Admittedly to me they are beautiful objects - and the history bit is part of what makes them appealing. If you hold an old American made cast iron skillet up next to a new MIC one - the difference in quality of craft and design is clear, even the new Lodge are pretty crude but still seem better quality than some of the other stuff I have seen.

        They are a pleasure to cook with although I think much of the collectability that drives some prices high is about rare logos and sizes and then you are just paying for art and history not cookware per se.

        4 Replies
        1. re: JTPhilly

          I doubt that purity business. I'm sure advances in metalurgy and refining technology more than make up for regional differences in iron ore. Iron content of ore is measured in terms of a few percent.

          1. re: paulj

            Just wondering if the older ones used virgin iron while the newer ones are recycled from the scrap yards? I wonder if that even makes a difference.

            1. re: Raffles

              Recycled iron is as good or better than newly smelted iron. Any impurities burn off or are pulled off as the iron is melted. It depends more on the skill of the foundry than the source of the iron.

              There are very few foundries left in the US. Most iron casting now is done in Pakistan, India, China & Korea. I have a lot of old CI cookware & I use it a lot. Couldn't say if it's smooth from wear or machining but I also think the new Lodge looks a little crude. It looks to me like they're selling it for camping more than for kitchens.

              1. re: JoeBabbitt

                The original Dutch Ovens (before the enameled French ones usurped the name) where designed for camp (and hearth ) cooking. Now Lodge has to call them 'Camp ovens'. I believe they are the only US maker of these.


        2. The Griswolds have a smoother finish, and I think they are better balanced than Lodges. I also think the spouts are designed better.

          I've been trying to get a seasoning on an old Lodge for weeks now. It has been amazingly hard.

          1. Since we're on the topic of griswold s does anybody know anything about chrome colored CI from the good health series?

            5 Replies
              1. re: Raffles

                Not sure. Been looking up info on the line and I'm having trouble finding anything besides it's from around 1920's

                1. re: mrbojangles447

                  Yah, it is old,didn't expect that old, but that is is nickel ok to ingest?

                  1. re: Raffles

                    The nickel content shouldn't be an issue when you figure they the pans
                    used now are mostly aluminium which has been said to aid in the cause of Alzheimer's. And most knives contain small amounts of nickel

                    1. re: mrbojangles447

                      Cool, now to hit eBay and spend some money...