Friday, September 27, 2013

cast iron


CAST IRON

A minion asked about Apocalypse cookware, although I thought the obvious answer was cast iron.  Which just goes to show you I keep assuming everybody is on the same page as me.  I know this is dangerous, assuming.  I guess since I have so few new loyal minions signing on to be abused by me, I just assume the same batch has been around forever and read all my drivel.  And, no, I won’t give you cast iron recipes.  Recipes belong on the other seventy-three blogs which chronicle others homesteading efforts.  I cook like I write, throwing basic ingredients into a container and burning them.  Like most other people, I used to use Teflon cookware.  But unlike most people, I am so cheap I can’t throw anything away.  So, while common sense dictated that I throw away a pan as soon as the coating started chipping, I kept using the thing until I started losing food to it sticking on.  I don’t know how much ass cancer causing chemicals I ingested in the process.  Then the day came I was told that no self-respecting survivalist could be without cast-iron and switched over.  Now, I can’t believe anyone ever considers using anything else-and that’s with me being unable to season one of the bastards to save my life.

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I’ve religiously followed seasoning instructions, yet have never had any success.  Now, since I don’t own an oven, I don’t worry about it anymore.  Instead of looking at seasoning as a long time non-sticking surface, I look at my non-seasoned skillets like I would a firearm.  You just oil them enough so they don’t rust.  If they do happen to rust ( the ones in storage-the one I use daily always gets new oil as needed and so can’t do so ), you just sand then down a bit and add as many coats of oil as needed.  My current batch of cast iron cookware came from trash picking.  They were all rusted.  I just sanded with a rough grit sandpaper and added oil.  You’ll need to put more coats on if you half-assed the sanding.  I’m sure some folks have big sand blaster machines they are eager to use, but a dollar pack of sandpaper from the discount mart works just fine with elbow grease.

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As everybody tells you, cast iron adds iron to your diet and cooks evenly without burning some parts.  It takes awhile to heat up, but it also continues to throw out heat after the flame is off.  But that isn’t the main reason I use it.  As long as you oil that sucker, it lasts forever.  That is its main appeal.  Multi-generational cookware.  For barter, buy all those crappy aluminum skillets and pots you find at the thrift store.  For your own pans, go with stainless steel.  They will eventually rust if you leave water in them, but for using then drying, they will last a very long time as long as the handle was attached to the pot well.  I’d invest in a set of different sizes.  That should be a once in a lifetime purchase.  No enamel to chip.

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10 comments:

  1. I have used cast iron for decades and have little problem with sticking, heat it up a little then put your oil in, the oil will adhere to the surface better than just putting oil on a cold skillet. Also there are two grades of cast iron, cast and machined. I haven't seen machined sold new in awhile though it is probably available. The difference is that the machined cooking surface is smooth while the cast is rough on the inside as it is on the outside and food sticks easier(don't buy chinese ones, hard to tell what scrap metal is in them). The old ones in antique shops are the ones to buy as they are not only machined but worn slick over years of use. I am still using my grandmother's skillet that is close to a hundred years old so they do last.

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    1. OK, I didn't know the differant methods. Might explain why even after seasoning the food sticks and wears off the finish after one time.

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  2. Good post. I also noticed that I was not a follower on this site of yours like I was on your old one so I fixed that.

    What you are doing with the sand and oil method is actually the lost art of browning which for some reason you hear very few mention today. If you let the rust start on metal (especially iron but it works on mild steel as well) and then sand it off rubbing with oil it will eventually create a barrier all it's own. It was a common method used by those lesser armored troops during the dark and middle ages

    Those citizen soldiers like fyrdmen, kerns and the like (The ones you discount as unimportant :)) who didn't have the time or servants to keep their armor polished resorted to this method. In many cases old tapestries and the like were interpreted by scholars as showing men in leather helmets which were later discovered to have more than likely been browned iron.

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    1. I'm always reinvinting the wheel-its starting to get embarrassing. Thanks for "following" me. I'm trying to stay ahead of Russell.

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  3. A cast iron flat skillet (no sides), a fry pan, a Dutch oven and a stainless steel soup pot are indispensable.

    Don't forget a large (4-5 gallon) stainless steel kettle for heating water. Stay away from the turkey fryer kettles. They have very thin metal and it doesn't take long for them to develop a hole.

    Idaho Homesteader

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    1. However, turky friers are the only good option for deep frying off grid!

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  4. I bought my wife a cast iron skillet some time ago, but she hasn't used it very much. Too much a creature of habit.

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    1. As long as her habits benefit you, right?

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  5. I would think in the little humidity of your locale, rust would be minimal ? In our high humidity, I follow our meals with a little oil and a paper towel rub all over the surfaces of the implement used and its worked so far. I minimize any water used to clean it, scrubbing out any burnt 'gunk' with a clean paper towel.

    Multi generational is right - my Grandmas Wagner is at least 70 years old and still going strong, I'll probably give it to my Grandkids if I have any.

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    1. Actually rust outside does show up overnight. But it takes decades for that to penetrate deep. It is just surface rust.

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