In the Kitchen...Cast Iron Pans

When it comes to frying pans, I have had many different kinds over the years, but my very favorite ones are still cast iron.  I have two now, a 10” Griswold pan that belonged to our mother, and an 8” Griswold pan of the same vintage that I purchased in an antique mall.  I use them as my regular frying pans, for everything from meat to vegetables and cornbread. 
I have had the current Lodge pans in the past but gave them away…they were too heavy and had a very rough inside finish that is hard to keep non-stick.
I felt blessed when Myrna gave me our mother’s pan, as she hadn’t really used it and I have fond memories of cooking in it at home.  I love the Griswold pans because they are much lighter weight and the interior is milled very smooth.  Mom’s pan had a nice nonstick finish inside, but the outside was coated with greasy residue.  I cleaned just the outside by coating it with oven cleaner and setting it in a plastic bag on my patio overnight, then cleaning it up the next day.  The gunk came off with almost no effort with this treatment.  I then seasoned the pan before using it.  The pan I purchased used was in good condition and already clean and seasoned.  Mom’s pan is in a little worse shape and is the one with the tuna patties in it.
These pans are vintage about 1939-1944, the early years of our folks marriage.  They are made for cooking…and the Griswold pans of this era are not as collectible as many vintage cast iron pans, so I am happy to use them daily as they are less expensive.  The logo on the back of Mom’s pan is similar to my 8” pan, and identify the years of manufacture.  The numbers on the handle refer to the size round cooking hole on a woodstove…Mom’s 10” pan is a number 8, and the 8” pan is a number 5.
To keep my pans in good shape, I wash them out with hot water, and use only a non-scratch nylon scrubber pad if needed so I don’t disturb the finish.  After drying, I place them in my toaster oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes, after wiping them with a little lard (you can also use cooking oil).  About halfway through that time, I wipe out any excess fat so it doesn’t bead up in the pan.  You can also place them back on you cooling burner to dry them.  The best way to maintain cast iron pans is to use them all the time.
I would encourage you to look for these pans, making sure the ones you buy are flat on the bottom so you can use them on your glass top range as I do.  You’ll be pleased to find there’s a reason why they have stood the test of time.
Some good frying pan recipes:

6 comments:

  1. I purchased a Lodge round griddle and find it absolutely EXASPERATING to clean because of that rough surface! It's headed for metal recycling, and I'm back where I started--hunting for a 10-inch griddle pan.

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  2. Love my cast iron! Some of it is my grandmother's, she was married in 1915 so it is quite old Griswold. I have four frypans from 6" to 12", and a griddle. Use it all the time. One summer we were camping and I put a really grungy frypan right into the campfire coals until it turned red. Burned all the old gunk right off!

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    Replies
    1. And aren't we lucky to have inherited some of these great pans?
      And using it keeps it great.

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  3. Griswold are wonderful. We have several all bought at auctions or sales. We love old cast iron.

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  4. I have cast iron grids on my gas kitchen range, including a center griddle. I was hesitant because they were new in 208, but I do like them.

    My Lodge pans, give me pause though, mainly because my big one is heavy. I like my small, flat, round pan for frying eggs.

    I had several cast iron pans that I got rid of at a garage sale after my divorce many years ago, thinking I wasn't going to be using them anymore...including an awesome chicken fryer with a glass lid. I had picked them all up at garage sales over the years, though I did buy a small single burger frying pan at the store. How I miss those pans!

    My big lodge frying pan is so heavy that I am thinking I just might get rid of it. At my age, it is hard to handle such a big heavy pan anymore. :-(

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  5. This article has reminded me of the oval cast-iron casserole my mother was using in the 1950s; I've had a quick hunt on the internet but couldn't see one quite like it. My parents married in 1939 so it may have been from the 1930s.
    It had a speckled-blue enamel outside and (I think) a lid.
    It conducted the heat evenly and beautifully, so one could make a steak-and-kidney pudding in it, or an oven casserole, or sizzle bacon, or quietly scramble eggs.
    I recall being told it would crack if subjected to cold water when it was hot, or break if dropped, which I think was its eventual fate.
    Thanks for bringing back the memory!
    [Valerie, NZ]

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