my new article on cast iron is up!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paul Wheaton, Aug 26, 2006.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,446
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    missoula, montana
    I've been itching to write this for over a year. I keep wanting to do more research, but I finally figured that I should write what I have so far, and I can update it as I learn more ...

    http://www.richsoil.com/castiron/

    What do y'all think? Typos? Stupidity?
     
  2. tuvold

    tuvold Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    74
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2006
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    Hey,

    Great article on a great site. Now if you could get the non-believers to follow that great advice........ :p

    Simple deglazing of the skillet after cooking works most of the time. I, or rather my family, has always had great success boiling off the stuck foodstuffs.

    The difference in finishes was some thing that I never really thought about. Most of our castware is either rummage sale or family hand me downs. I have only bought one brand new one and the kid dropped it not to long after we got it. Never really got it seasoned correctly. If I ever buy another new one I will try to surface it before I use it.

    Once again, great job.

    My 2 coppers,

    tuvold
     

  3. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

    Messages:
    6,465
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2005
    Location:
    Forests of maine
    Nice site.

    Well writen.

    We have a lot of cast iron stuff. I season any of it whenever it needs to be done [when brand new, or maybe once a decade]. I make a big bed of coals, fill the skillet with lard and let it burn in. After I scrape away the chunks that stick on the outside, the pores usually seem to be filled. Otherwise it is all about regular usage.
     
  4. Charleen

    Charleen www.HarperHillFarm.com Supporter

    Messages:
    3,087
    Joined:
    May 12, 2002
    Location:
    Western NY
    What a great site! I really enjoyed the pig pics! Thanks for sharing.
     
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,977
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    East TN
    We have my mom's griswold skillets and there is no way to use anything else. One of my jobs in the kitchen when I was a kid was to dry the skillets. Towel drying was the first step and then you placed them on the heat to get rid of any moisture preventing rust.
     
  6. boonieman

    boonieman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    292
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Location:
    Meade Co Kentucky
    I've got some cast iron stuff and can't wait to get home and see what brand it is, and to try some of the tips you wrote about. Thanks for taking the time to share your hard-learned knowledge.
     
  7. Tabitha

    Tabitha greenheart

    Messages:
    1,751
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Location:
    Ky
    I would have liked to send you a pm about Sepp Holzer and the Hügelbeete.
     
  8. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

    Messages:
    1,658
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2003
    Location:
    Central NY
    A guy who makes broomcorn brooms sold me a little scrubber thingie he makes from the leftovers.
    This thing turned out to be the BEST cast iron cleaner I've ever found. It took off all the stuff that stuck without harming the surface, and was even shaped so it fit nicely into the curved areas.
    I had lost his contact info, but I plan to go to the State Fair next week. (Thats where I found him and bought the scrubber several years ago.)

    I'll let you know if I find him again.
     
  9. Tabitha

    Tabitha greenheart

    Messages:
    1,751
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Location:
    Ky
    oh, I found one of those scrubbers at the shaker museum. really liked it, too.
    I think your article is very well done. I hope the younger set who needs that information will find it, you are doing them a service. Got my very first cast iron skillet exactly 40 years ago, I gave it to my daughter last year, also the one that grandma gave to me shortly after. there are memories attached to those skillets, I hope to have a granddaughter who uses those skillets someday. the only thing I do not like about them is that the handle gets hot on a woodstove. I also have a cast iron wok. neat item.
     
  10. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,499
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    IA
    OK I have to fess up here. I've always wanted to switch to cast iron cookware, but the main reason I haven't is I have very weak wrists and the pans -even when empty- are almost too much for me.

    The other problem I have is that lifetime of warning about - wash and disinfect... particularly when cooking poultry. How do I get past this? Hard to imagine you shouldn't thoroughly wash (with soap) out the pans you use after cooking a chicken.

    When you make something like chicken soup, using a lot of water, is that a problem with regard to the 'seasoning' of the pan? What about tomato based foods like spaghetti or chili... can you cook that in them with no problem? (The sauces don't get a bad taste from the cast iron cookware do they?)

    I just want to learn and I figure you all are the ones who can answer my questions and get me past these worries and dilemnas.
     
  11. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,446
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    missoula, montana
    Howzabout starting a thread?
     
  12. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,446
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    missoula, montana
    I have very weak wrists and the pans -even when empty- are almost too much for me.

    Some of the larger pans have a tab at the opposite end so you can use both hands.

    The other problem I have is that lifetime of warning about - wash and disinfect... particularly when cooking poultry. How do I get past this? Hard to imagine you shouldn't thoroughly wash (with soap) out the pans you use after cooking a chicken.

    The high heat kills a lot. Plus, oil/grease acts as something of a preservative. You can sterilize jars for canning by boiling them. The temperature of the cooking surface gets much higher than that.

    When you make something like chicken soup, using a lot of water, is that a problem with regard to the 'seasoning' of the pan?

    I think so. I would make soup in stainless steel or glass.

    What about tomato based foods like spaghetti or chili... can you cook that in them with no problem? (The sauces don't get a bad taste from the cast iron cookware do they?)

    I haven't experienced any off flavors. Although I know that doctors recommend that folks with an iron deficency cook in cast iron. So apparently some of it does find its way into the food.

    I have read that if you leave tomato-ish stuff in the pan, it can cause pitting. Just make sure you clean up right after cooking.
     
  13. a1cowmilker

    a1cowmilker Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    247
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    This is an excellent article. It makes me want to get out my iron skillet and start cooking with it.
    I used to put water in my skillet and then throw in a teaspoon of baking soda to clean off the stuff. I am guessing that this would be a no no.

    I plan to print off your article and put it in my whole foods cook book that I am putting together. This IS the sort of thing that younger cooks need to know about. I had a huge skillet with a tab on the other side. I gave it to my daughter as she cooks big meals much more that I do these days.

    Thank you for the info, and if you ever write anything else would you please let us know?
     
  14. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,446
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    missoula, montana
    I used to put water in my skillet and then throw in a teaspoon of baking soda to clean off the stuff. I am guessing that this would be a no no.

    I dunno. I haven't tried that myself and not sure what it would do. Anybody have any knowledge along these lines?

    I plan to print off your article and put it in my whole foods cook book that I am putting together.

    Is this something you are doing for just you and your friends, or is this something we might see on amazon some day?

    Thank you for the info, and if you ever write anything else would you please let us know?

    I think I've done that for all of the articles there that I wrote since this site has been around. Sooooo ..... yes! :)
     
  15. Tabitha

    Tabitha greenheart

    Messages:
    1,751
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    Location:
    Ky
    . the baking soda is somewhat superfluous. It won't hurt nothing, but boiling water in a really messy skillet is enough. And of course, don't cook tomaotes in a cast iron cooking vessel.
     
  16. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,220
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Location:
    NW-IL Fiber Enabler
    tomatoes won't hurt a well seasoned cast iron vessel. I don't recommend it all the time, but I make plenty of tomato based pasta sauces & chilies in my dutch oven with no ill-effect. After use, clean wll, thoroghly dry, & re-season.

    Baking soda is great to use as a mild abrasive (I also use it in the coffee pot).

    Couple of my old, old-time skillets are a lighter weight. I believe it is the Wagoner (sp?). Will try to remember to look.

    Don't buy cast iron with wood handles :rolleyes:
     
  17. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    Messages:
    1,857
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Good morning everyone. I am a cast iron junkie and an inveterate abuser. I have three normal sized frying pans as well as a ginormus critter that will fry up a six pound chicken in nothing flat. I also have three dutch ovens, only one of which has feet and a newer griddle that might as well be a doorstop for the use it's seen.

    Each was a separate find at various yardsales or auctions over the years, but I couldn't tell you the brands, since to do so, I'd have to scrape the scale off the bottoms, which I consider to be part of the vessel itself.

    If my pans could speak, they could tell tales of cast iron horror. Left for days at a time in the bottom of a sink full of water and scum (could that be why I need so many?), an owner who thinks nothing of tossing in jars of tomatoes or spaghetti sauce with the burger and leaving it to simmer all day. Of a master who thinks nothing of dipping a scratchy sponge in soapy water and applying it vigorously to their smooth, concave bellies.

    It's a wonder they survive at all, that they haven't gone on wholesale strike, rusted, wizened and cracked at the abuse I've heaped on them. That they survive and prosper must be a testament to the love and appreciation I have for them all.

    There can't be a more forgiving substance than a cast iron pan. All they ask in return for the years of goodness and friendship they offer is to be thoroughly dried when cleaned and an occasional oil massage.

    One would think it takes a strong master to be able to flip an omelet, over easy eggs or pancakes without the aid of a turner, but I find it is all in the technique. All it takes is moderate fire, lubereous amounts of butter, a bit of a shake to loosen the stubbornly sticky, a tilt of the pan to slide the item over to the side and a judicious and rapid flip.
     
  18. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

    Messages:
    7,220
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    since this is a current hot topic, i will seek advice. i just found a large griddle, big enough to cover two burners, and it is in somewhat poor condition at the moment. half of it has some scale...rusty flakes formed under the seasoning. i passed on advice before that an old butcher told me. he said to soak the rusty or flakey cast iron ware in a solution of lye and water and the rust will dissolve. i am just a bit leary of trying it for myself.

    i scrubbed and scrubbed with some homemade woodash lye soap and steel wool. some of the scale came off and some remains. after the first pad was used up, i decided to put the griddle into the oven and heat it up. my hope is that some of the scale will pop off. it is in the oven now at 350 degrees F. should i heat it up hotter? or is it a bad idea to heat such a large cast iron object up too high?

    if i still have scale after this phase, maybe i will try a stainless steel spatula and scrape with that. then i will use steel wool again if i still have really rough spots. i am considering using a mild lye solution at the very end to help dissolve any remaining rust in the pitting that is left. once that is rinsed away i will start a long seasoning process.

    any thoughts are appreciated. :)
     
  19. Pony

    Pony STILL not Alice Supporter

    Messages:
    19,813
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    We use, abuse, and beat the daylights out of our cast iron. It's kind of like Timex -- takes a licking and keeps on , er... cooking. :shrug:

    Meloc, I figure you're going about it just fine. For the "final" clean, if it was me, I might consider just letting it for a while, with a whole lot of olive or other vegetable based oil slathered all over it.

    DH picked up a cast iron skillet with a broken handle, and MIG welded it back on. Good thing he's getting some practice in with skillets, as we picked up a very cool wood cook stove that needs a little mending. :)

    Pony!
     
  20. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

    Messages:
    7,220
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    showing my ignorance...i did not think it was possible to weld cast iron. it is very cool if it can be done.

    i am getting some vague memories about this griddle. i think someone in the family said it leaked. there are no cracks but there is a bit of pitting on both the bottom and top...at the same place...kinda. one little hole in the bottom that looks like a defect in the cast and some rust induced pitting on the cooking surface. keep some fingers crossed. :)