Cast Iron Cookware Questions (Revisited)



Hi all,
I was the original poster of this old (now 64 post long) thread way back in 11/02.
Thought I'd report back and let you know that with the group's help, I took the time to learn CI's quirks and idiosyncrasies... and for the last year or so, use nothing but for all my skillet/frying pan needs. I only wish I'd learned CI's ways 30 years ago.
What made me think of this was a trip to Barnes & Nobel book store earlier this evening. I noticed in the cooking section they have a 'Dummies' cast iron cooking book! Didn't have time to really look through it, but I'm thinking I want to go back and check it out.
Thanks to all who responded and helped out with my original post, it's appreciated!
Erik
(Who's now searching garage sales for a good old CI Dutch oven...)
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You can get a new Lodge 12" for around $35.
Steve
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replying to SteveB, Leo wrote: Chicken did not brown in my cast iron pot. Why?
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Cast iron is the simplest there is to use. Seasoning and worrying about them----forget it, just use em. Probably be best to wash with soap and water before first use. Use them same as would use any other pot or pan. Been using cast iron for over 50 years and still use the originals every day. 14 inch fry pan and griddle most of the time. Can't beat the fry pan for making poverty paste. (white gravy). I have a lot of cast iron skillets, pans and etc. Wash them when they need it and keep them oiled so they don't rust. Much easier and more forgiving than teflon or any of that other stuff. If stuff gets happens to get stuck to them just let them soak in soapy water for awhile and scrape off what doesn't come loose. Dry them and coat with oil, lard or whatever. The worst thing you can do to cast iron is worry about it, because it will take care of itself.
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Years ago in Africa we cooked often in the old three leggered cast iron pot. I heard of many ways of preparing or breaking them in, ranging from something with vinigar to lighting a fire in them. I can't remember how I broke mine in, but after a while they take on a unique taste of their own.
If you can avoid it, try not to use too much soap if any, when cleaning. A good scrub with a wire brush and rinse well. Then heat it up again to boil off any water then a wipe with a lightly oiled (vegetable oil) cloth to prevent rust.
IMHO, you can't beat the tast of caast iron.
Good Luck.
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You wipe oil or Crisco on it, and bake if for an hour at 350 and let it cool. They do not add taste to food, but the way you cook in it does.

Use NO, repeat NO soap.
A good scrub with a wire brush and rinse well.
Rest of sentence: to go with A good scrub with a wire brush and rinse well .......... if you want to fuck it up really good. Scrubbing thusly will take off the "seasoning", or top layer which is what you want to build up for a nearly nonstick surface. Scrubbing will put your food in direct contact with the metal, hastening corrosion, and letting acetic foods eat at the metal.
Then heat it

Not to boiling because you won't have that much water in it. Just warm it up until all the moisture evaporates. DO NOT get it real hot.

Finally, something we agree on.

Steve
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Cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet in the oven cannot be beat. Seasoning the cast iron and all that rot is just extra hogwash. Soap doesn't hurt no matter how much you use. heating it hot on the stove after washing won't hurt it either. I sometimes forget and leave it on the stove to finish drying and remember it when I smell the grease burning off of it. Just let it cool, oil it and forget it until needed again. It's the most forgiving and worry free cookiware available. Just use and don't worry about it. Worry gives bad headaches.
Just had my 70th birthday and enjoying life to the fullest. Don't have time for making mountains out of molehills. Just enjoy that cast iron and the flavor it enhances your food with. Anyone that says cast iron does not flavor food cooked in it is doing something drastically, drastically wrong.
Later Roger
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In response to what I wrote about Dutch ovens, Roger added:

In response to what Roger wrote, I say:
That is what is good about a dutch oven. You buy your own, and treat it any way you want. Right, wrong, whatever.
Steve
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OK, since I've been cooking with my grandmother's cast iron cookware for over 40 years, I'll jump in here. IMHO, based on the 40 years experience, here's what you do:
1) no soap, unless your wife has a kitchen cleanliness fetish, and even then, try your best to restrain her. (Yes, I know it can be tough!) It takes a couple cooking sessions after you use soap to get a well-seasoned pan back into reasonable shape. If you soap it every time, you might as well cook with the Allclad stuff! <bg>
2) I only ever had to start one pan from scratch, which I did by oiling and baking, as one of the previous posters mentioned. After cooking with it for a few months, it was as smooth and non-stick as the rest, which must be at least 100 years old, by now. I got them from my mother, who inherited them from HER mother. She thinks grandma bought them new, but we don't know for sure.
3) To clean a skillet after you have pan-broiled a steak, or sauteed something really messy, scrape/wipe out as much of the food and residue as you can, get the pan pretty hot again (or do this just after you cook, which is my favorite technique, especially when pan-broiling); then toss in about a cup +/- of cold water. You'll get a great cloud of steam, then let it boil for a couple minutes, scraping if necessary. Dump out the dirty water, rinse, and dry on the hot burner. That's it. If the pan is well seasoned, you don't need to oil it between uses, but a new pan should be oiled each time, for a few months. (BTW, when I worked as a short-order cook as a kid, this was how we cleaned iron grills, only we often used soda water for better cleaning action.)
4) Treasure them, cook on them all the time, and bequeath them to your grandkids. I don't think they ever really wear out in home use. Mine lived on a boat for a while, as well as numerous camping trips, when they weren't in the kitchen.
Regards,
Bob
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snipped-for-privacy@chromisdesigns.com (Bob Edwards) wrote:

As a kid I worked at one of those 'Irish take out' places, the ones with the arches you see everywhere now... we did the cold soda water on the grill thing too, and it worked great! It was probably done at least 5 or 6 times a day.
I don't know how thick that grill was, but I can tell you this, it was maybe 20"X48", free standing, and I don't ever remember it even shaking... not even a little. A quart or so of cold water would hardly chill it. It never completely cooled down overnight, and took the better part of an hour to warm up in the morning. I don't know if it was cast iron or not, but sure didn't have many dings or scratched in it. Also don't recall it ever making any heat 'check' noises.
The soda water cleaning was an official, company approved, in the 'training manual' method, and I'm positive they would have stopped it at once had cracking ever became an issue.
On the other hand, I remember once my mom having a cast iron Dutch Oven crack almost in two when hot, she ran the cold water in it. I was young, but remember her making a big to do over it, as she liked it so much.
Your mileage may vary... :)
Erik
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I "scrape" with a wood utensil, never metal.
STeve
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wrote

ut In my experience, it doesn't really matter. I suppose if you like the crusty, built-up approach, then it would. But you can keep the pans clean and still enjoy non-stick cooking via the technique I suggested.
Regards,
Bob
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On 10/15/2019 5:18 PM, Leo wrote:


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On 10/15/2019 3:58 PM, Terry Coombs wrote:



Could have been too much meat in the pot. I especially find this when browning stewing beef. If you put it all in at once, a lot of water cooks out of the beef and cools down the pot. You need to cook it in smaller batches.
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