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Mini-rant: mistreatment of cast iron!

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  • Mini-rant: mistreatment of cast iron!

    I decided to try cooking with cast iron. Because I'm cheap, I went to ebay. The pan I bought, according to the seller, had been her grandmother's, and had sat in a box at her mother's house for years.

    The pan was beautiful, no rust, looked like it was properly seasoned, etc.

    As far as I can tell, the seller decided the pan was "dirty" and washed it before she sent it to me. Then she put it in a plastic bag before it was fully dry.

    You can guess the condition of the pan when I received it -- full of rust, that beautiful shine removed.

    I'm nursing it back to health. About 1/3 of the pan is still beautiful, smoother than teflon. Seasoned it once last night, did it again this morning, cooked some bacon in it for lunch, and will season it again later this afternoon. I think it'll be worth it.

    I know the seller had no idea of the value of what she was selling, hence the cheap price and the bad treatment of this beauty. But still. Grrrr.
    If I don't live my dream, who will?

  • #2
    Ouch. Poor pan. You'll be able to bring her back, but how somebody could abuse such a beauty... it's amazing what harm a lack of knowledge can do.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, steak in one hand, chocolate in the other, yelling "Holy F***, What a Ride!"
    My Latest Journal

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    • #3
      My dear wife just cooked a vinegar dish in my dutch oven two weeks ago - this is the second time she's done it. It just completely oxidizes it.
      One more time and you may read about it in the papers... Grrrr!

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      • #4
        Awww, the poor thing!! (the pan I mean.) At least you understand it better than the granddaughter did. I'm pretty sure Grandma would approve of the pan's new home.
        "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."

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        • #5
          I can't abide by cookware that needs to be treated more carefully than a faberge egg. Heavy, brittle, fussy - no thanks. I threw all my carbon steel knives our years ago, too.

          Sorry that yours was mistreated, though :-)

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          • #6
            Are they really that brittle? I have two cast iron pans, one with grill ridges, another flat. I wipe them with paper towel usually, and I scrub them with steel wool if necessary for stuck-on stuff (they're still pretty new and in seasoning process), rinse them, and I dry them by putting them back on the stove and turning the burner on for a couple minutes until all wetness evaporates.

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            • #7
              The pan is recovering nicely. About 2/3rds of it is now *amazing* -- smooth and completely non-stick. I figure cooking bacon in it tomorrow morning should get the rest of the gunk off it.

              I feel as though I've been given an heirloom to restore. I love antiques. A lot of my pieces of furniture are antiques. This pan was well loved, once. I'm glad I've welcomed it into my home.
              If I don't live my dream, who will?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Jessica View Post
                Are they really that brittle?
                Cast iron contains a small portion of carbon, so yes. Take a cast iron skillet and a stainless steel or aluminum one and drop them on cement from equal heights. The first will likely shatter or break, the second two will dent or bounce.

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                • #9
                  Are they brittle? Yes, I think they are. But as fragile as glass? No.

                  The pan is about 95% there at this point. I figure one more bacon fry and it should be there. It's different, and I'm still figuring out how to use it, but so far, I like it.
                  If I don't live my dream, who will?

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                  • #10
                    I need to get one of these things
                    MDA PRIMAL LIBERTARIAN GROUP

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by blank_faceplate View Post
                      Cast iron contains a small portion of carbon, so yes. Take a cast iron skillet and a stainless steel or aluminum one and drop them on cement from equal heights. The first will likely shatter or break, the second two will dent or bounce.
                      Sooo...I shouldn't use it to bash my partner when he's being uncooperative? Yes/no?

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                      • #12
                        Many women have, with no harmfull effects (to the pan) in the community of hill people (hillbillies) they make a sport of throwing cast iron frying pans.
                        Not that brittle.
                        Cast iron will chip, or sometimes shatter, if it hits concrete, however.
                        This is because of the casting procces. Cast items are always more brittle than forged, because of the casting proccess.
                        Last edited by 979roadrunner; 09-02-2010, 11:02 PM.
                        sigpicI'm not old, I'm Vintage!

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                        • #13
                          Why would you want to drop either a cast iron or a steel or aluminum pan on the cement? You should take care with any cook ware. Cast iron may be brittle, but handled with a modicum of care will last lifetimes.

                          I have lots of cast iron cookware in my kitchen nowadays - a 14" skillet, a 10" skillet, 2 8" skillets, a round griddle, a square griddle, a wok, and a dutchie . I used to have my Great-great Grandmother's 14" skillet, but a college room-mate dunked it in a sink full of water while it was still hot. It broke clean in half. I was so sad that day - it had come up the Applegate trail from San Francisco with my ancestors. I still miss that old skillet, and I cherish the memories of all the good food cooked in it. Since losing that skillet, I resolved to replace it with good, modern stuff.

                          I like the versatility of my cast iron cookware. It's attractive in my kitchen, cooks the kind of food I cook better than aluminum or stainless steel, I suspect I get a trace of iron from using it, it's easy to care for, and can be used in my kitchen and on the campfire.

                          If you are looking to buy new cast-iron cookware, pay close attention to the look and feel of it. A good skillet should feel a bit heavy for it's size. You can get pre-seasoned wares, or you can season them yourself - either is a fine option. I like Lodge Logic - it's good and sturdy, and pre-seasoned. There are a number of other brands out there, tho. In my experience, cookware cast in Asia is often thinner and more brittle than the American stuff.

                          I find that it's important to let a skillet heat up - this may take a moment longer than other cookware, and you probably don't need to turn the heat up as high.

                          If you are looking at used cast iron pieces, much the same applies. The bottom should be flat - a warped bottom will not rest evenly on a standard electric range coil element, buy may be fine for a gas range. Also,a skillet whose bottom is not flat may not distribute heat correctly. A bit of rust is probably alright, but if a pan has a lot of rust, I'd pass it up. I always scour and season any used pan I get my hands on, using very hot water and a stainless steel scrubby - or even equisetum and sand. To season, I rub down a very dry pan in bacon fat and and set upside down in a low heated oven for a few hours. I do not recommend the use of olive oil for seasoning - it has too low of a smoke point, and you won't want a smokey skillet.

                          Clean a cast iron skillet after each use. Let it cool, then wipe out with a towel. If a bit of food is stuck on, a quick soak in hot water, and a quick scour will usually take care of it - don't use soap! Dry thoroughly, and rub down with bacon fat or lard and store away until the next use. It's a big mistake to leave a skillet dirty, thinking you'll get to it later. Acidic foods left in the pan will eat the seasoning off. I have found that if a skillet is well seasoned, it will handle cooking a bit of acidic food foods - I freely cook with tomatoes in mine.

                          As you can tell, I love my irons!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jessica View Post
                            Sooo...I shouldn't use it to bash my partner when he's being uncooperative? Yes/no?
                            It would be a historically appropriate use, imho. LOL!

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                            • #15
                              If a piece of cookware requires "instructions" or will die a horrible death if someone uninitiated in the dark arts gets their hands on it, I don't have a use for it. It's pretty much that simple - I wasn't trying to hijack the thread. Cast iron that isn't enamel coated, carbon steel knives, copper anything, and certainly ceramic knives all fall into that category.

                              My requirements are cheap or bulletproof and reasonable quality. Aluminum non-stick pans obviously have their drawbacks, but at least when my mother in law uses my 12" knives to scramble eggs in it I can shrug, toss it in the trash, and buy another one from a restaurant supply place for $15. I don't want any cookware that has emotional significance. And, no, I'm not a kitchen neophyte, I'm classically trained.

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