what is a good brand for a cast iron skillet?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paul Wheaton, Oct 5, 2004.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    When buying a cast iron skillet, the cooking surfaces all seem really rough. Is there a brand of cast iron with a smooth skillet surface? Or, are there brands that are less sticky than others?
     
  2. jassytoo

    jassytoo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It takes time to really get a cast iron skillet well seasoned. I have some old Griswold skillets and also have some Lodge cast iron ware. Try looking for a skillet at garage sales and flea markets. The older the better IMHO.
     

  3. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

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    Griswold and Lodge are the two brand names mentioned most often when debating the pros and cons of cast iron. Frankly, I'm not always certain that owning a Griswold over a Lodge is justified in the higher price of the Griswold -- and it tend to not sit well with me that there are collectors who don't even use their castiron for what it was made for who have driven the price of old Griswold pieces up in a range where it's not practical to purchase them for cookware.

    As you probably already know...some will advise that you never wash your cast iron with soap and water -- just wipe it out. I've found the best thing for cast iron cookwear is to use it as often as possible -- I have yet to convince myself that it's safe to not wash it - so I always do -- my trick is to not leave liquids sitting it ... wash as soon as possible - dry on stove top, apply a thin coat of vegetable shortening/oil or lard -- while still hot -- and keep in a dry spot. Never drop - it does break, never subject to extreme temperature changes -- never put a hot pot in cool water -- or a cold pot on a fire -- it will not only break but also warp.

    If you find some great old cast iron which has a sticky build up on the outside -- from all those people who never wash just wipe out the inside -- build a fire outside and bury the cast iron it - and the crude will burn off -- just make sure it has a chance to cool down on it's own without a drastic temperature change. Then coat with choice of oil/fat and store as mentioned above.

    If it has a "little" rust -- and the price is right -- buy it -- use fine steel wool to clean off the rust -- and treat at instructed above. It it's heavily rusted - it's best to leave it for the collectors.

    By the way -- the cheaper and lighter weight cast iron is usable -- you'll just have to get the feel for how well it holds and maintains the heat. Best of luck in your cast iron purchases.

    Marlene
     
  4. Lt. Wombat

    Lt. Wombat Well-Known Member

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    I just attended a physicians seminar at UCLA medical center and it sure steered me towards cast ion. The presenters were a microbiologist, chemist and neurologist. The neurologist was a MD the other 2 were PhD’s.

    The main theme was the results of a 10 year study in which they did extensive examination of Teflon in the human body. Their findings were that the human body can not rid itself of Teflon. It can break it down, transport it and try every trick in the book but in the end the Teflon was still intact in very minute quantities.

    Pretty scary in my world! Their cookware recommendations were cast iron (IF IT IS PROPERLY CARED FOR), stainless or glass.

    We’re heading to the city this weekend to buy some new cookware as all our non stick wares have scratches… thus we are already contaminated. Maybe by switching now we can limit the damage a bit.
     
  5. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

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    I haven't touched a teflon pan in over 3 years... Don't own any and never will. On top of the fact that teflon coating can become scratch, it can also emit toxic fumes when heated to high... SOoner or later this stuff will probably be outlawed.
     
  6. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Paul, a couple of years ago Lehmans.com sold cast iron skillets that you could get with two different finishes:
    (1) the factory "rough" finish, or
    (2) a ground smooth finish (which cost a few more bucks).

    I have looked at their website and do not find this "smooth" option...so maybe they have discontinued it. But IMHO, it's worth an email or phone call to the company to see if any are available.

    And BTW, I never knew that Griswold was still commercially available.
     
  7. john#4

    john#4 Well-Known Member

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    Paul,
    To answer your question, look on the bottom of cast iron this is were you would find the name.
    ‘Gris wold, Erie PA.’ Is one, another is ‘Lodge USA’. These are old ones.
    Don’t look at flea markets, you will pay too much. Go to the yard and garage sales that are off the beaten track. You can pick them up for $3=6.00. They may need cleaning see above post.
    I collect and use them. Do not buy any new cast iron, it is worthless. And don’t even think Taiwan. Its just junk.
    John#4
     
  8. nappy

    nappy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The only pots and pans I've used for many years have been stainless steel or cast iron. I do have one Teflon frying pan which I use infrequently for omelets. I cringe when I see people using aluminum or very scratched Teflon. I read recently that pet birds have died when the fumes from heated Teflon pans wafted through their cages. And what is this doing to human children or adults? No, I'd much rather use the old fashioned cast iron or stainless steel. However, one drawback to the cast iron is the weight. As I age, they seem to get heavier!
     
  9. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree...good seasoned cast iron can only be found in old skillets. They just don't make them like they used to! My favorite skillet is a small one that was my Granny's...no one knows how old it is and it's smooth as a baby's hiney.
     
  10. MarkSykes

    MarkSykes Well-Known Member

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    Cast iron is cast iron is cast iron. Wagner and Lodge are available at stores; it will take a while to get the surface well seasoned.

    With my own seasoned skillet, baking cornbread seems to best 'repair and recondition' the patina than anything else. It boils down to using it occasionally and not letting liquids sit in it for very long. I typically clean the cast iron skillet upon finishing cooking (after it's cooled some but still quite warm) and before eating the meal.

    Mark
     
  11. havellostmywings

    havellostmywings Well-Known Member

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    I have 4 large cast iron skillets, 1 small, and 2 cast iron dutch ovens, I would prefer to cook only in them, but... family does cook too and they seem to use the other...

    2 of my skillets are 70 yrs old.. they were my grandmothers and she received them as wedding gifts. they are a bit pitted and I have considered taking them and seeing if i can have them sand blasted a little to smooth the inside.. but I never have, I used them for my baking and roasting... a chuck roast will fit in one.. season it, cover it with potatoes, onions, carrots and celery put the other skillet on top and put it in a 325 oven for two hrs.. and dinner is ready...

    i use my dutch ovens pretty much the same way... one has legs for use in open fires, and one doesnt.. I use the one with out legs to cook beans, stews, etc on top of the stove.. the other one is great in the oven or when ever we cook out side.

    The great thing with Lodge Dutch Ovens is they have numbers on them... tells you how many coals you need to cook with.. for the top and underneath.. and Some of the best Biscuits I have ever had come out of those dutch ovens..

    I clean my pans immediately.. dry them on the stove top.. and then wipe them with veggie oil.. and put them in the oven... since I have a gas stove, the pilot light works to keep them warm and the oil sinks in to the iron better..

    i rarely have any problems with sticking...

    Lynn in Texas
     
  12. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

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    We have a nice stainless set,but usually use the cast iron(more non stick and cooks better).We have 6 iron pans.

    I bought one time that had a bump in it that the spatula would hang on.I sanded it out.Don't see why you couldn't sand one completely smooth and then season.

    Like i mentioned before if you have a Fred's in your area they sell Lodge brand for $10/12inch (same pan at Walmart is $27 or so ) $7/9ich $5/6inch. Note the handles are thinner than they used to be(cheap looking).No V cut in the handle hole.Not sure if all Lodge wear is going this route or is it just the ones that Freds sells.Ill be looking at the ones at Walmart next time i go.

    We abuse ours by letting stuff sit in them and then scrubbing with soap water,sometimes SOS pads when we burn stuff.Just a little heat and oil on the stove top and its as non stick as cheap Teflon.Note we use olive oil for seasoning,its awsum! :D
     
  13. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    Buy Lodge. Theyre high quality, made in Tennessee and a guy who works there still has 22 payments to make on a mobile home he purchased from me last year. I want to see him keep his job for a couple more years or $3300 whichever comes first :)
     
  14. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    As Shrek said, buy Lodge as it's made in TN.
    Yes there are 2 grades of skillets made by Lodge. The rough finish is best suited for decoration. the smooth finish is the only way to go for cooking. I have learned this the hard way as I bought a large skillet that was rough and tried cooking in it after seasoning. I have since polished the inside of it to make it useable but it's better to get the smooth one to start.
    Griswolds are excellent skillets, but they are also collectors items to some so they can be pricey, but even with that they are worth the money as they will literally last forever.
     
  15. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

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    Reading this made me curious about my cookware - i have annodized aluminum WITHOUT a non-stick coating. What happens if annodizing is scratched or worn? I have two pieces with a professional non-stick coating, but they are not scratched - is that o.k.?

    When you buy cheap non-stick cookware and the pan is heated up too much, that is why it flakes off etc. My couple of pieces have never flaked off or scratched.

    I use only stoneware in my oven and LOVE it, similar to cast iron except you can't use it on top of the stove only in the oven. I have one rectangle piece i use for making bacon in hte microwave and it's also my best cake pan!

    Next time i see a cast iron pan at a yard sale, i'm going to pick it up be great to have.

    brural
     
  16. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    I avoid aluminum cookware and aladyne / anodized finishes simply because aluminum deposits are found in the synaptic junctions of alzheimer victims when the autopsy is performed and all of the aladyne and anodyne solution MSDS I have seen indicate that they are potential carcinagens. Dont know if the threat is there after processing, but as long as I have cast iron and pyrex I have no concern of it personally.
     
  17. Bishaj

    Bishaj Active Member

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    I'm fairly new to cast iron myself, but in the past year I've made an investment in two skillets, a griddle, and a camp dutch oven. All ordered preseasoned from Lodge. I've been extremely happy with them and had no trouble with sticking. I just use a little pam before cooking and clean them right away afterword and coat with a little veggie oil.
     
  18. Peggyan

    Peggyan Well-Known Member

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    I cook with about 10 iron pans. One was my mothers and the rest is Lodge I've been buying a piece at a time over the last 10 yrs. The latest purchase is wonderful. It's a 14" pizza pan. It bakes the best biscuits I ever made. Makes good homemade pizza too. I've owned several stoneware pizza thingys and everyone of them broke despite my best efforts. I've been making pizza on my long iron griddle. It sits on two burners and I think it makes a better crust than the stoneware. It's good to heat up leftover pizza...much better than the microave. I heat the oven and pan to 450 and put the leftovers on. It takes about 5 minutes and tastes like you just made it.
    Blessings
    Peggy
     
  19. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

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    I prefer my Lodge cast Iron, however there is another brand that I haven't seen mentioned. Camp Chef makes good cast iron even though they are made in China (their only downfall). Camp Chefs usually come pre seasoned and ready to cook in (price is pretty comparable to the Lodge). I have had a couple Camp Chefs for several years and can't see any difference in how they perform. This year they are also putting out Lewis & Clark commemorative peices,I went out and bought one, and it sits on our sheepherders stove while not in use. Therefor it works great as a cooking oven as well as a decorative peice.

    To clean I usually poor some water in the skillet or dutch oven and boil it to get anything that might be stuck on. then of course oil it and heat it either on the stove top or in the oven. Once you get a good patina you won't have much problems with sticking (unless your like me and sometimes leave the cleaning untill morning :eek: )
     
  20. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    I saw a lodge brand cast iron skillet at the store yesterday. It had a very rough surface!