Cast Iron, The Original Lifetime Cookware

As you all know, or maybe you don’t (click on About Us at the top of the page), we started this journey to find better food for our family.  During that journey, we decided that the best way to ensure that we were eating the best food on Earth was to grow it ourselves.  We also came to be aware of the problems with conventional cookware, namely Teflon coated frying pans.  We used them for most of the early part of our life together, and always noticed that the coating would eventually look dull and have scratches in it.  These scratches would appear sometimes within 3 months of buying the pan.  In our research, we discovered that those scratches indicated that we needed to buy a new pan and throw the old one away because the coating was slowly going into our food.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to eat Teflon.  At one point in our marriage, we even fell for the lifetime Royal Prestige cookware that costs more than a mortgage. At least we got a “free” trip to the Bahamas for showing up to the sale pitch.

Once we moved to the homestead, we started looking at cast iron cookware.  I listen to and the host of that show, Jack Spirko, talks quite a bit about cooking on cast iron.  Little did we know,  we literally lived in the birthplace of cast iron cookware – Erie, PA.  I won’t go into a long history lesson, but one of the major manufacturers of cast iron pans from 1865 to 1957, was the Griswold Manufacturing Company based right here in Erie, PA on 12th and Raspberry.  So, off I went to search for some cast iron cookware in local antique shops and garage sales.  I found an extremely bad No. 10 skillet, a No. 8 Griswold skillet, and a No. 5 Wagner skillet to start with.  There are many methods to cleaning and seasoning cast iron.  If you ask 10 people familiar with it you will likely get 10 different answers.  I used the method that I heard on TSP and it worked wonderfully.

The method I used to clean and season the cast iron is as follows:

  1. Place rusty cast iron pan or black cast iron pan in oven on clean cycle
  2. Remove pan from oven immediately and scrub with hot water and a Scotch-brite stainless steel pad until all rust and ash is gone
  3. Dry pan as quick as possible because the moisture will start to rust the bare iron pan almost immediately
  4. Coat entire pan with Lard or some type of oil or fat.  (my understanding is that Lard is the best)
  5. Place pan in oven at 350 for 1 hour
  6. Remove pan from oven and wipe with clean paper towel
  7. Repeat Step 4 and 5
  8. Start using pan to cook your food as you would use any frying pan
  9. Clean with hot water and a green scrubbie pad, no soap
  10. Dry pan completely and recoat with you oil/fat of choice

My understanding of this process is that the oil polymerizes on the pan and creates a nonstick coating that eventually rivals that of a Teflon pan.  My personal experience is that this is completely true. Our pans are amazingly nonstick and we love using them.  We cook everything in them and we feel that the food tastes better cooked in the cast iron.  Keep in mind when you buy the pan that the cooking surface should be as smooth as possible for a high quality pan.  My No.10 skillet was really pitted and out of shape on the bottom and outside of the pan, but the cooking surface is smooth and it turned out to be a great pan.  The Wagner No. 5 is by far the best nonstick that we have, I fry eggs in it and it rivals any Teflon pay for nonstickiness. The No.8 Griswold is a great pan as well.  Beware,  this can become an addicting hobby because there are so many cool cast iron items out there to cook with.

If you have any questions write in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.