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#161831 - 01/08/09 12:54 AM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: GameOver]
DFW Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 09/03/07
Posts: 80
New is fine, but second-hand can have it's advantages. I've bought several pieces of cast iron at flea markets, but my favorite is an 8" skillet, obviously used for generations, perfectly seasoned and just the right size for a pone of cornbread. Heat up your skillet in the oven with a little bacon grease in it, pour in your cornbread batter - about 20 minutes later, you've got heaven. Wipe out the pan with a towel, and you're done.

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#161901 - 01/08/09 02:15 PM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: DFW]
UncleGoo Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 388
Loc: CT
Thanks for posting allowing me to read that during business hours: I'm at work, and there's no way I'm going to be able to satisfy my cornbread craving for another nine hours... frown


Edited by UncleGoo (01/08/09 02:17 PM)
Edit Reason: wrong timing
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#161914 - 01/08/09 03:24 PM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: Russ]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
"I have a problem when frying eggs and the surface is so rough the turner/flipper won't slide smoothly under the eggs. Likewise, pancakes come apart and leave parts behind when they're flipped."

New cast iron has to be broke in for such things, meaning that the seasoning has to be built up a bit. Well seasoned cast iron, which has been in good use for a while, will have built up enough of a seasoning layer on the cooking surface that it will be smooth enough to slide the spatula along, and with just a hint of oil those pancakes and eggs will release nearly as good as the best teflon coated pans on the market today.

Generally, I start most of my pots and pans cooking foods that stay wet during the cooking process, such as roasts or stews, or I cook breads in them, like corn bread or shepherd's loaf. After perhaps a dozen seasoning sessions, my skillets have enough seasoning coatings built up to where they are smooth on the bottom cooking surface.

On griddles and such, I will use them as broiler pans to begin with, or for stir frying. Same as with the other cast iron, after about a dozen uses, they are seasoned up enough that I can do eggs and pancakes like a short order cook.

Speaking of which, back in high school, we had a big smooth steel griddle we did burgers and such on at a restaurant I worked at. I recall that after getting the griddle up to temp, we had to season it before we could start cooking orders on it. Usually I was told to drop an egg on a spot where I was going to fry burgers on. I'd work the egg, shell and all, into the griddle. Every night at closing we were required to scour the griddle back to shiny metal, and I learned a thing or two about seasoning coats then.
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#161918 - 01/08/09 03:40 PM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: benjammin]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5341
Loc: SOCAL
Thanks Benjammin, I'll look at the new Lodge skillets, but in the meantime to answer my need for eggs over easy, I found a 10' WAGNER WARE -0- Griddle on eBay. Looks to be in great shape as is much of the cast iron. I expect the Lodge Dutch Oven I ordered to have that rough surface despite being pre-seasoned. But for the wet food you mentioned (stew, chili), or even a chicken, rice and veggie dinner, that surface should not be an issue.
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#161920 - 01/08/09 03:48 PM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: Russ]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Yep, even the pre-seasoned stuff isn't going to work any better. It is just a start.

I've used my comal to do pancakes once or twice, so smooth is okay, just be aware that you will want still want to season that surface as best you can or food will stick. I get my comal smoking hot and grab a paper towel and dip it into the crisco just a tad, then wipe the hot comal surface down with a nice thin and even coat and let it smoke off. Then I wipe it down with the same paper towel again and let it smoke off again, then it is fairly ready to go. You will want to wipe it down in between every other pancake that way to keep the no-stick going. A little practice and you will quickly learn what to look for.

Enjoy using your cast iron, and feel free to ask questions about it anytime. The more you use it, the better it will be.
_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#161984 - 01/08/09 09:33 PM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: DFW]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
Mix up a little honey and butter to go on it...
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#162779 - 01/13/09 02:24 AM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: OldBaldGuy]
yeti Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/16/06
Posts: 203
Loc: somewhere out there...
Vintage cast ironware (which I prefer) is usually much more smooth and does take a while to build up the seasoning.
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#162807 - 01/13/09 03:36 AM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: yeti]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Hmm, most all of the really old cast iron I've seen or worked with (40 to 140 years or more old) is rough, some quite so, at least in the raw. An old, well seasoned pot should have a very smooth surface, from the seasoning of course.
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The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#165552 - 01/29/09 12:48 AM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: benjammin]
yeti Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/16/06
Posts: 203
Loc: somewhere out there...
benjammin - my experience is that newer cast iron is rough as anything but old is smooth (pre-seasoning). I have seen some old iron that is rough but it was not well made. I do think it is made more smooth by seasoning. Here is a photo example:

http://blackirondude.blogspot.com/2008/05/old-cast-iron-vs-new-cast-iron.html

I mainly have old Griswold and a couple Wagners but I do have a couple that I'm unsure of the mfr and they are older and smoother as well.
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#165596 - 01/29/09 02:42 PM Re: Speaking of cast iron... [Re: yeti]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Well, I can only speak with authority from my own experience, but I have heard a bit about depression era manufacture being smooth surfaced. My first inclination was that it was machined or sanded smooth after casting. I've also heard that a lot of folks from that time and more recently have taken to sanding and/or wirebrushing the surface of cast iron to remove the old seasoning and rust on "recovered" pieces, which would also lead me to believe many of the older pots would over the years have a smoother surface than the typical cast items from further back in time, or newer ones that haven't been neglected. Wear and tear would tend to smooth the surface of old pots and pans I would imagine.

Most of what I have is new. A few pieces are from depression era, and they are machined smooth on the inside. Some of the really old stuff I've seen is just as rough as the new stuff. The early american stuff I've seen (home cast, mostly spiders and such) are very rough, but well seasoned and quite functional.

In any case, I find the smooth surfaced stuff to be more difficult to season properly. I've never noticed any difference in how smoooth vs rough perform if both are well seasoned. Once the seasoning overcomes the rough surface, I reckon they are going to work about the same.

Steel griddles are smooth, as are my steel baking pans. I season them as well, and they work quite nicely. I suppose everything is relative. I reckon since most of my experience is with cast iron that has a rough finish prior to seasoning it, that is the stuff I am most familiar with, and I am more adept at making it work. Good cast iron, rough or smooth, is still a good thing.
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The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
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