Calling all Cast Iron Chefs

     OK first up is a bigass Dutch oven. I got this from my grandma about 15 years ago. It's perfect for making huge batches of vindaloo!
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Here's the lid.
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Inside of the lid...
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I can help a little.

Griswold, perhaps the most collectible cast iron, was made until the 1950s. The good stuff dates back to the 1930s, and the name on their stuff was Erie, not Griswold, up the the early 1900s. They were located in Erie, PA.

The other make that I collect is Favorite Piqua Ware. The company went out of business during the Great Depression, 1933 I believe, so their skillets are at least 80 years old. Their skillets are finely cast and quite light in weight. They were located in Piqua, OH.

Between Griswold and Piqua Ware I must have at least 60 skillets. And then there are all the Dutch ovens, griddles, etc. It can get quite obsessive!

If you post some pics, I'll see if I can identify what you have.

I believe your Dutch oven was made by Lodge. Typically, they didn't put their name on it. The pattern on the underside of the lid (for self basting) looks like Lodge. The different manufacturers all had their own self basting patterns.
 
grantmichaels said:
 
 
HM01 - anything beyond the scope of folks from these parts, might be within the realm of TCF ...
 
Depending on which social networking/media sites you use:
 
https://www.facebook.com/theculinaryfanatic/
https://twitter.com/jeffrogers01
https://www.instagram.com/theculinaryfanatic/
http://theculinaryfanatic.com/
 
:cheers:
 
PS - he's a nice guy, whom I've contacted before ... very helpful.
 
 
     What is TCF? Also, there are other social media sites besides THP?  :think:  ;)
 
 
Here's the next specimen. It's a cornbread pan I got from an antique store for like $5-10.
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Inside...
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I think I got this one from an antique store.
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Inside...
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I know this one is Griswold, but I'm curious about the age.
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Inside...
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And the last one. I really like the machining marks on the inside of this one.
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Inside...
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     I tried to capture as many ID markings as I could from the bottom of each pan. If better pics or help reading letters would make things easier, let me know. Any information regarding brand or age would be appreciated!
 
kentishman said:
I can help a little.

Griswold, perhaps the most collectible cast iron, was made until the 1950s. The good stuff dates back to the 1930s, and the name on their stuff was Erie, not Griswold, up the the early 1900s. They were located in Erie, PA.

The other make that I collect is Favorite Piqua Ware. The company went out of business during the Great Depression, 1933 I believe, so their skillets are at least 80 years old. Their skillets are finely cast and quite light in weight. They were located in Piqua, OH.

Between Griswold and Piqua Ware I must have at least 60 skillets. And then there are all the Dutch ovens, griddles, etc. It can get quite obsessive!

If you post some pics, I'll see if I can identify what you have.

I believe your Dutch oven was made by Lodge. Typically, they didn't put their name on it. The pattern on the underside of the lid (for self basting) looks like Lodge. The different manufacturers all had their own self basting patterns.
 
 
 
     Thanks for the info! I'll have to let my wife know there's somebody out there with a bigger collection than me. That will make my next purchase a little easier. 
 
Tell your wife there are people out there that spend crazy amounts of money on this stuff, so she should cut you some slack! I don't buy much these days (to keep the peace with my wife and because I've run out of room). I did get a No. 5 skillet lid a couple of months ago for $495. The pepper hobby is a lot less expensive.

Regarding the last batch of pics, I think the first two pieces may be Lodge but they may be from Taiwan. The Griswold skillet is a nice old one: it has the large Griswold logo on the bottom plus a heat ring. Probably from the 1920s or 1930s. It would clean up very nicely. The later Griswold, not such high quality iron, has a small logo. The last skillet is another Lodge, the lettering is typical Lodge.
 
kentishman said:
Tell your wife there are people out there that spend crazy amounts of money on this stuff, so she should cut you some slack! I don't buy much these days (to keep the peace with my wife and because I've run out of room). I did get a No. 5 skillet lid a couple of months ago for $495. The pepper hobby is a lot less expensive.

Regarding the last batch of pics, I think the first two pieces may be Lodge. The Griswold skillet is a nice old one: it has the large Griswold logo on the bottom plus a heat ring. Probably from the 1920s or 1930s. It would clean up very nicely. The later Griswold, not such high quality iron, has a small logo. The last skillet is another Lodge, the lettering is typical Lodge.
 
 
 
     Thank you. That Griswold is another one I got from my grandma years ago. She told me her mom bought it new, so it's been in the family quite a while! It's very lightweight and sees like thinner iron than all the others.
     That's interesting about the last one. I didn't know Lodge ever machined their pans. Any idea when they stopped doing that?
     I also have another pan that I'm wondering about. I didn't take pics of it because it doesn't "look" old. It is marked on the bottom "KEILEN LTD.". I haven't been able to find much info about it. 
     Thanks again for your help!  :cheers:
 
Good observation on the machined surface. You are correct, modern day Lodge (the only CI manufacturer in the US still in operation) doesn't have a smooth surface. The old iron is far superior.

And cool that you can tell the Griswold is lighter in weight. As I mentioned, Piqua Ware is even lighter than Griswold. Very thin walls on their skillets.

One other very collectible brand that we haven't mentioned is Wagner Ware. Good stuff, but I don't have much of it.

I haven't heard of Keilen.
 
kentishman said:
HM01, I'll be pleased to give you some tips on cleaning and reseasoning your iron. The No. 6 Griswold would really look good if it were cleaned.
 
 
 
     That would be much appreciated. I rely only on cornbread to season my 12" skillet and pancakes to season my griddle, so the actual process of "seasoning" is something I've never had to do. I tried it once long ago and ended up with a sticky, tacky mess that just attracted dust, so I never messed with it again. Some tips on taking a pan down to bare metal and then forming a good, hard seasoning would be very useful. 
 
 
edit: I don't have a self-cleaning oven, in case that changes anything.

grantmichaels said:
 
     Is there an advantage to buying that stuff instead of just using veggie oil?
 

grantmichaels

Extreme Member
I don't know, honestly ...
 
It's one of those things ...
 
http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/
http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/02/black-rust-and-cast-iron-seasoning/
 
http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp
 
http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/02/16/heavy-metal-the-science-of-cast-iron-cooking/
 
http://www.scienceofcooking.com/cast_iron_cooking.htm
 
https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/5820-the-ultimate-way-to-season-cast-iron
 
http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/the-truth-about-cast-iron.html
 
Lots of people with theories, hard to find anything that's concrete ...
 
People get good results with lard, vegetable, specific version of flaxseed (I've used this up until now, but I'll be trying the Crisbee) etc etc ...
 
The technique needs to match the oil, basically ...
 
If you use high temp, you want an oil with a high smoke point, and whatever it is going to be best if it's low rancidity ...
 
I really can't say that I know the answer I'm afraid - but what does seem to hold true is that layer upon layer of seasoning leads to a nice fucking pan, that works like a champ, whichever way you arrive there!
 
I use canola (vegetable oil) for seasoning. You won't need a self cleaning oven. Get a spray can of oven cleaner.

The No. 6 Griswold is small and will easily fit in a plastic grocery store bag. Work outdoors and have sturdy plastic gloves on. The oven cleaner is corrosive.

Give the skillet a liberal spraying with the oven cleaner and put it in a plastic bag. Even double bag it and keep the bag sealed. Let the thing sit for a couple of days.

Hose off the skillet. There will be a funky mess as all the old grease from your grandmother's cooking comes off. Scrub the skillet starting with a plastic tuffy thing. This will lift off most of the grease and take it down to bare metal. Any places that are being stubborn, use very fine steel wool. If need be, use a wire brush. Your skillet looks good with very light rust so you may not have to use a wire brush.

You will probably need to reapply the oven cleaner and repeat the process.

Once you are down to bare metal, wipe dry and put in a cold oven then warm to, say, 250F for 20 minutes. This drives off any water that has penetrated the surface of the iron. Let cool.

DON'T LET THE BARE METAL SIT AROUND VERY LONG. IT WILL RUST IN A HEARTBEAT!

Apply canola oil and wipe it all off (if you don't do this, you'll end up with your sticky, tacky mess!). Put skillet in cold oven then heat to 425F. Let cool in oven. Reapply oil and, again, wipe it all off. You may find that your cleaning rag looks rusty, but it's difficult to get it all off.

Your skillet should look good at this point, but typically, I reapply oil and reheat to 425F a second or third time. I usually wait until I'm cooking something in the oven for the second or third applications, but that's only because I don't want to keep heating up the house just for the skillet.

Remember to wipe off all the oil so you avoid the sticky tacky surface.

Please post a pic of your cleaned skillet. It should look great!
 
Oh, one more thing. I use an old screwdriver to clean up all the lettering on the bottom of the skillet. The grease builds up in the recessed lettering. If you go carefully, you can use a screwdriver to gouge out the grease. The final result will look better if all the lettering is crisp.
 
grantmichaels said:
 
 
I really can't say that I know the answer I'm afraid - but what does seem to hold true is that layer upon layer of seasoning leads to a nice f**king pan, that works like a champ, whichever way you arrive there!
 
     Truth.^ I used to work in a kitchen that actually had a dedicated "burger grill". The only two items ever cooked on the grill were hamburgers and onions. It got scraped off every day, but it never got "cleaned". 3/4" of steel with about 1/8" of seasoning at 425oF yielded some of the best burgers I ever cooked at a restaurant. Mmmmm emissivity!  :drooling:
 
 
kentishman said:
I use canola (vegetable oil) for seasoning. You won't need a self cleaning oven. Get a spray can of oven cleaner.

The No. 6 Griswold is small and will easily fit in a plastic grocery store bag. Work outdoors and have sturdy plastic gloves on. The oven cleaner is corrosive.

Give the skillet a liberal spraying with the oven cleaner and put it in a plastic bag. Even double bag it and keep the bag sealed. Let the thing sit for a couple of days.

Hose off the skillet. There will be a funky mess as all the old grease from your grandmother's cooking comes off. Scrub the skillet starting with a plastic tuffy thing. This will lift off most of the grease and take it down to bare metal. Any places that are being stubborn, use very fine steel wool. If need be, use a wire brush. Your skillet looks good with very light rust so you may not have to use a wire brush.

You will probably need to reapply the oven cleaner and repeat the process.

Once you are down to bare metal, wipe dry and put in a cold oven then warm to, say, 250F for 20 minutes. This drives off any water that has penetrated the surface of the iron. Let cool.

Apply canola oil and wipe it all off (if you don't do this, you'll end up with your sticky, tacky mess!). Put skillet in cold oven then heat to 425F. Let cool in oven. Reapply oil and, again, wipe it all off. You may find that your cleaning rag looks rusty, but it's difficult to get it all off.

Your skillet should look good at this point, but typically, I reapply oil and reheat to 425F a second or third time. I usually wait until I'm cooking something in the oven for the second or third applications, but that's only because I don't want to keep heating up the house just for the skillet.

Remember to wipe off all the oil so you avoid the sticky tacky surface.

Please post a pic of your cleaned skillet. It should look great!
 
 
 
     Thank you for all that great info! Cleaning and reseasoning all my old CI has been on my to do list for a while, but I wanted to make sure I did it right. This looks like it will get me there, for sure! I will definitely post pics of them in all their black, glossy glory. 
     I did some digging (watched a YouTube video) into IDing old CI and found some more info regarding the cornbread skillet and the little #5 skillet. From what I saw, it looks like the cornbread skillet is a Birmingham and the #5 is one of the Wagner's that they sold unmarked at discount stores. 
 
Be careful what you cook in a newly reseasoned skillet. Cornbread would be good (my wife makes cornbread in a #6) or something in a lot of oil, like fries.

Don't cook bacon. Sugar in the bacon will mark the freshly cleaned surface.

And don't cook acidic food, like tomatoes. The acid will strip off the new seasoning, and your food will have a metallic taste.

With continued usage, the seasoned surface will build up and these issues won't be so important.
 
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