My journey back to cast iron... Not trying to be a bad influence...

Discussion in 'Pots, Pans, Grills, Other Cookware / Cleaning & Fo' started by dbhost, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. dbhost

    dbhost Active Member

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    So here's the story. It would appear my cast iron posts are stirring an interest among members here. Let me clue you into my why of all this interest in CI as of late....

    In 2005 I bought, piece by piece, the 10.5" skillet, the 12" camp dutch oven, and the dual sided griddle. I used them extensively until 2007. At that time, I had opted to dig back up my 6pc stainless steel nesting family cook set. I was never happy with the performance of the cook set, things scorched in the skillet every time, but at least it nested neatly and was rust proof...

    Fast forward to the introduction of the Copper Ceramic coated aluminum cookware A.K.A. Copper Chef. Light weight, even heat distribution, easy nesting, works almost as well as cast iron, so I went with that for a while, until this spring, when my Copper Chef XL failed. And the warranty service proved to be nightmareish to use. Simply put I was left with sour grapes on Copper Ceramic...

    At home the non stick aluminum cookware (Pampered Chef Executive cookware) is starting to show signs of wear to the non stick surfaces, and I am now in a position I am uncomfortable using it...

    A few sleepless nights pondering my old cast iron. My only issue with it was, and still is weight / stowage in transit. So I dug out my old Cast Iron from the attic, and started stripping and reseasoning it since the tote it was stored in had broken apart and it was getting some rust. I wanted it completely sanitary and well seasoned.

    My requirements were simple. Rugged, even heating, excellent non stick, and SAFE.

    My post about smoothing / polishing cast iron has everything to do with non stick. I am not certain about whether or not the rough castings of modern cast iron can eventually season up to such a point that the texture is irrelevant to food sticking to the pan. So far, I have on the 10.5" skillet (from 2005) after massively reseasoning it, is every bit as non stick as the copper ceramic was. The Ozark Trail on the other hand still needs to either be smoothed, or still more seasoning...

    Another issue is that while I have been able to make the Coleman Folding stove top camp oven work, I am finding the camp oven itself to be a less than stellar performer. I mean it works, but I just feel the dutch oven is far more multi functional..

    So was it my intent to encourage others to go out and add to their CI collections? Nope. Not even, but of course, I wouldn't be offended if you did. I am not trying to be a bad influence, but I will happily wear the name if it fits...

    I am just trying to wrap my head around the complexities of what seems at first glance to be a simple matter...
     
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  2. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Nothing in life is simple, especially if you are the one doing it!
     
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  3. dbhost

    dbhost Active Member

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    Now I am on to trying to figure out lids for the skillets since they don't come with lids. Something I want to try...

    The Pampered Chef cookware has tons of stainless steel lipped glass lids. I am planning on testing to see if I can match lids to pans.
     
  4. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I would look for aluminum, just so it cant break. Otherwise, i flip a pan on top of the other one, not exactly easy to do with cast iron.
     
  5. dbhost

    dbhost Active Member

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    Probably keep my eyes open at the thrift stores for some stainless ones to try out...

    I know the 12" pan is indistinguishable from a lodge as far as the shape goes. There are cast lids for those... Pretty sure the 10.5" is the same...
     
  6. Byrd_Huntr

    Byrd_Huntr Well-Known Member

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    Try your DO lid on your CI skillet of the same diameter.
     
  7. HappyTraveler

    HappyTraveler Active Member

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    For my ci that don't have a lid I either have a lid from another pot that will work or I just take a long piece of heavy duty foil, fold it in half and fit it IN the ci so it's almost sitting on top of whatever I'm cooking. By putting it IN instead of over the steam and condensation will drip back into the pan and the corners sticking up give me something to grab onto so I can lift it out.
    I can usually get quite a lot of use out of one of these lids, since they don't really get dirty, or a quick rinse cleans it.
     
  8. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    I've used cast iron for over 20 years, for nearly everything.
    Started when I had a set of 5-6 old "junk" skillets given to me.
    Old, rusty, ugly.

    Some wire wheel work on a Metabo grinder to clean them up, a good washing or 5 and proper seasoning and they work great.
    Had a few of the "wonder coated" pans as well, but no matter how careful you are with them they don't last.
    I've looked at newer cast iron, but most of it is junk. Casting is very rough, surface is porous and I think it would be difficult to make it as non stick as the old stuff.
    Some of mine is Griswold, some is no name but it still works very well.
    Yard sales and thrift shops are the best place to find it. But it's not the give a way prices that it used to be.
     
  9. dbhost

    dbhost Active Member

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    While I get that, I should take some pics of my CI. My Outdoor Gourmet stuff, while old by Gen Z standards, falls under the category of new or modern CI as the casting method was rough, although not as rough as current Lodge or Ozark Trail by any means...

    The CI itself is no more or less porous, it's just cast iron, it flows into the mold and cools, if there is air captured it generally, but not always works its way out. But again I get your point.. I think it's just an issue of semantics. And it really is rougher than the old stuff... However I would think it would be somewhat easily rectified with one of those flap wheels, or an orbital sander and a good washing / reseasoning.. Time will tell as the 12" CI skillet really is rougher than I would have liked...

    Older casting methods made an assumption that modern ones don't, and that is the users were willing, and able to season a pan, or pot before using it. So the molds were made less rough. The modern method they are cast rough so that the seasoning applied at the factory sticks first time out.

    A better method would be smooth casting, smoothing via CNC, and then at least 4 trips through with spray applied / baked seasoning, but that is a longer MFG process and would make the cookware cost considerably higher which I don't think most consumers would be willing to absorb.

    Back to my point though. My Outdoor Gourmet, after being stripped, and reseasoned, and then extensively used, is now seasoned at such a point that it is FAR more non stick than any teflon or copper ceramic I have ever used. The bottom is downright slick, and the sides are smoother than my face after I shave... Cleanup is simple, hot water, and wipe it down, re oil and use next time...

    Use on an electric stove is a bit tricky compared to other materials. Heat levels required with CI are MUCH lower than with say copper ceramic. To grill a grilled cheese sandwich for example, I actually have to set the temp to medium low instead of medium, medium heat WILL BURN the grilled cheese bread before the cheese melts, medium low makes it absolutely perfect...

    The rough casting on the Ozark Trail does make me want to get after it with one of those stripper wheels and reseason the tar out of it.

    The Ozark Trail bean pot seems to be cast the same way the Outdoor Gourmet was. So process seems to vary between products. Probably made / cast at a different foundry...
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  10. dbhost

    dbhost Active Member

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    While I would prefer a proper lid, I am pretty sure that would do the trick. That would be great in camp, but I want my CI to do double duty, home, and camp.

    Tested and yep, the DO lid does fit the 12" skillet. That leaves me needing to find a lid that fits the 10.5" skillet...

    For what it's worth, I am going to take a tape measure and measure / note the inside diameter of the skillets, and on my outings to the thrift shops, I am going to make sure I take a tape measure, and measure the lips on the skillet lids. They often are not with the skillets and typically sell for $1.00. I am hoping I can find lids for both the 10.5 and the 12" skillets so I don't have to chose between covering the 12" OR using the Dutch Oven...
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  11. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    You can find lids at Cabela's or most other better outdoor stores.
    I have a griddle that I found in an old barn I was tearing down. I've had for quite a while.
    No clue how old it is, I'm guessing that most of mine are 40-50 years old anyway.

    Based on how long I've had them, and the fact that they had pretty much been thrown away for years before I got them.
    If you saw the ones I use here now you'd never believe what they looked like when I got them. :D
     

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