Discussion in 'Whats Cooking? Food, Drink, & Gear' started by Dave Martell, Jun 17, 2018.
Here's another company...
Those look really nice.
$400 for a 12-inch skillet!!? I don't think so. Lodge may be a little rough new but the longer you use one the smoother it gets.
I've been using a Lodge skillet that's finally getting to that point where I can barely see a texture, but it does take a while.
One thing that might be worth the money on these fancy-pants skillets, is that some are a little lighter in weight than the Lodge skillets, while still being heavy enough for good heat retention. Maybe that's due to removing metal during the polishing grind. Or just a lighter handle design with some models.
I still have an eye on getting a Borough Furnace pan one of these days. As far as I can tell, it's the only one of these modern takes on cast iron that doesn't have a "heat ring" and is smooth across the bottom.
I like the design of the Smithey skillets, also don't mind the price, like to support smaller manufactures doing high quality products—American made, instant heirloom. One could get cast iron skillets in the $25 dollar range, but I can see the value of buying something special for the kitchen rack. Same goes for buying knives—spent $500 on a Kato gyuto for something special, I could still cook just as well with a sub-$100 knife.
As much as I like the Smithey, I'm unlikely to get one. The Griswold skillets I got from my grandmother will work fine at least through the next five decades.
I can confirm that that is not what a big toe looks like after dropping a 12” cast iron skillet on it. My wife used the term “exploded grape”.
I think the same could be said for supporting Lodge. I'm sure they are just hanging on by a thread against imported cast iron and they are pretty much the last American company of any size doing it. Having had to clear out several older relative's stuff I know the "family heirloom" aspect tends to be over stated. Most people just want to clear out their parent's stuff anyway they can even if it means hauling it to the dump.
Adding some other modern options to the list:
The Field Company
there is also Oigen for Japanese cast iron.
I'd say the best thing about vintage pans is that many were cast thinner than a comparable modern Lodge pan. A thick walled 12" skillet or Dutch oven gets pretty heavy before ingredients get added! You can smooth out a rough pan but you'd be insane to try and thin a thick one...
Listen to this advice.
I made a similar error. I smoothed down a cast iron pan using a sanding disk and flap wheel. It was fast and easy work. What wasn't so fast... I polished the surface smooth using wet and dry. I got manic thinking 'the smoother the more non-stick". I ended on 1200 grit with a fairly reflective surface - you could use the pan like a 2.5kg hazy mirror. It was too smooth! The seasoning took longer to build because it kept coming off. Now, a couple years later, the surface is well seasoned and pretty nice.
If I were to do it all again, I would probably stop at around 220 or 400 grit - enough to remove the course power tool marks but textured enough to give the seasoning something to latch onto.
Amen. I did what I could to try and fast track a good seasoning. After a lot of stuffing around I learnt that there were no real shortcuts to a good seasoning - just time and use!
I just saw a video where a guy mounts a new lodge pan to a wall and use a angle grinder with a 120 grit disc to remove the black finish followed by polisher and then a palm sander. Claimed it was better than vintage.
Lodge should probably offer a raw version of their skillets to those that desire them.
Just got back from elk hunt. Found my old 14” lodge in my brothers camper. I gave it to him when I had a home with a tiny kitchen. I kinda want it back. It’s a pan fried chicken making beast. It’s fairly smooth st this point.
I don’t mind the heft. It’s the mass that makes it do great as a cooking tool. (For me).
That's not their business model, and if it was, we couldn't get their pans this cheap. It's low-end, commodity cookware available everywhere (at least here in the USA). The hardware store down the street, 5 minutes from my house carries a few Lodge pans in the "camping gear" section.
There are other outfits offering the ground-out smooth finish at a high price. I hope Lodge doesn't go there, so we always have a good baseline, cheap cast iron pan you can buy anywhere. All it takes is time, patience, and using the pans over enough years to get a smooth seasoned finish. So what's the rush?
P.S. that doesn't mean I'm not sorely tempted by some of these artisan pans, like the Borough Furnace stuff. I just have a hard time justifying them ahead of other cooking gear I want.
P.P.S. the Lodge pans also have completely flat bottoms, which work on my stove top, unlike some of the fancy "replica" models with an outer heat ring cast into the bottom.
It wouldn't be more expensive production wise. Just give it to me raw with no lubrication.
It would be the limited production that would jack up the price. I wonder what it would take to snatch one off of the factory floor before the seasoning is applied.
Do you mean selling without the seasoning? If so... then I agree! They would be skipping a step in current production. This could be provided at relatively little cost.
If you mean grinding the finish smooth or casting with moulds that have a higher surface finish... then it would have to bump up the price. Neither of those options would come for free given the retooling required. Like Paraffin suggested - that aint their business model! They were in the game long before the recent revival of (niche) interest in cast iron cookware.
If you want a bare pan, stripping off the seasoning is easy. A long soak in a sodium hydroxide (lye) bath with periodic scrubbing will likely do the job. For a brand new Lodge, it is not work the risk. The seasoning isnt bad and caustic soda is nasty stuff - dont use it unless you have to. A second hand pan is another matter. You don't know what is baked into the seasoning so I would strip it back.
If you mean grinding the finish smooth; this is what it takes. It is not complicated (just a bit of a grind... bah-doom!). It is more a question of where you want to spend your time and money. Should you just hunt down a good vintage pan? Should you pay more for a newfangled smooth pan? Or should you get a rough pan and spend an afternoon staining your hands with iron dust?
I chose the latter because I enjoy that sort of thing. What you cant fix easily is the wall thickness. Vintage pans tend to be thinner. This is a neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It makes the pans lighter and conduct heat faster but it also makes the pans more prone to warping/cracking and gives them less heat capacity. Depending on their previous life, some of the larger vintage skillets may rock on a flat surface due to warping. This is likely to be annoying if you have a completely flat surface like an induction cooktop where the pan would spin on the apex of the warp.
I have the field. Only con I'd say is that it is quite thin and may not transfer the same amount of heat to steak/other high temp frying compared to some of the thicker stuff (Lodge, Smithey, etc.). It is good on the wrist, though so pros and cons of both.
I've cooked with Lodge pans for years & was recently gifted a Smithey. It's honestly one of the nicest presents I’ve ever received. Definitely has its own cooking character & sears like nobody’s business. The 10.25” Lodge lid fits perfectly as well.
I haven't had a chance to use one. They do look really thin. Is it your go-to pan or do you have a different favourite?
It's my only bare cast iron pan and I don't use it too much. I actually find it a bit small (ex. I'd rather have a pan I could put a whole spatchcocked chicken in). I'm temped by the Smithey for sure...
I've got both the #8 and the #10 and they are used daily. They replaced a pair of Lodge skillets and I've never looked back. They are thinner than the Lodge skillets, but they heat up faster, just like carbon steel pans. My only objection is the price, but then I look at the Smithey and think I got a bargain.
Awaiting an arrival of an 8" raw caste iron from housecopper. Steaks seared in stainless steal constantly left me dissappointed.
Yeah, I should have a carbon pan, but I don't.
I recently got a 10" Smithey and have been a big fan so far. I do wish I started with the 12" from them (have a 12" Lodge), a bit undecided whether to replace the Lodge with one from them or try another, like one mentioned in this thread. Leaning towards the Smithey but have not pulled the trigger yet.
Vintage. Griswold is best but there are plenty of no names that are just as good. They finished the cast iron much better back then.
If vintage wasn't selling for such a high price I would agree with you. If I could find a decent Griswold #8 for maybe $60 or $80 that would be golden, assuming it was genuine.
Agreed, Griswold gets pricey. If you stay on it you though should be able to find a #8 for about that.
There is always unmarked vintage.
I apologize for being a bit late to this thread but if I may make a recommendation. Go to etsy.com and take a look at the forged carbon steel pans from Newquist forge. I bought one last summer and it is far and away my favorite pan. Nothing sticks to it, cleans up very easy and just keeps getting better and better. It is a bit pricey compared to a mass produced carbon steel or cast iron pan but in this case you do get what you pay for.
Thanks to every one who recommended the Field Co. pan. It is great to look at and has a good weight. My wallet hates you all.
I don't find that smooth/sanded cast iron cooks differently from unsanded/textured cast iron. Neither does Kenji Lopez-Alt over at Serious Eats. But it does cost more, and I suppose it satisfies your inner hipster (or inner a priori intuitive physicist who never bothered to do any experiments). I guess that's something.
I'd disagree with that, we grew up with "old cast iron" before it was hipster ...
Congratulations! Enjoy it. I am sure it will treat you to some delicious meals.
Depends what you mean by "cook differently"? Sure, the thermal properties don't change. Why would they? My smoothed pan is the same pan as it was before it was sanded (sans a negligible amount of material). Seasoning will accrue on ground or raw/textured cast iron. Once a good seasoning takes hold, the pan gains non-stick qualities whether smooth or rough.
I would say that even if a smooth surface did not change the non-stick properties, it satisfies my posteriori inner haptic preferences better. Cooking implements like spatulas or spoons glide over the surface and dont bump along. Similarly food can slide around a little bit easier.
But then again, you are also misrepresenting J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (see Myth #6):
Metal is metal, cast iron is cast iron, the new stuff is no different than the old Wagner and Griswold pans from early 20th century that people fetishize.
The Reality: The material may be the same, but the production methods have changed. In the old days, cast iron pans were produced by casting in sand-based molds, then polishing the resulting pebbly surfaces until smooth. Vintage cast iron tends to have a satiny smooth finish. By the 1950s, as production scaled up and was streamlined, this final polishing step was dropped from the process. The result? Modern cast iron retains that bumpy, pebbly surface.
The difference is more minor than you may think. So long as you've seasoned your pan properly, both vintage and modern cast iron should take on a nice non-stick surface, but your modern cast iron will never be quite as non-stick as the vintage stuff.
He does think there is a difference between smooth and rough pans - albeit a minor one. I agree. Nothing wrong with trying to squeeze out as much benefit from a situation as you can. That bit of improvement? Whether spending the money or time is worth it to the individual - each to their own!
I definitely like the smoother vintage one better. It definitely a seems more nonstick, but I haven't done extensive testing. My aybe I will.
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