Sunday, March 27, 2016


An exploration of cast iron skillets

I remember how my grandmother used to spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen.   She was quite a cook! Perhaps some time I may go further and elaborate on all of the things that she would make, but for now I bring up the point of whenever she would fry up some eggs, or make crepes, or toast dore', she would use this big old cast iron fry pan.

My own fry pan experience started, best I can recall, was with just a stainless steel fry pan.  I later moved on to a Teflon coated pan as it was easier to clean up afterwards.  Over the past few months I have thought of trying out a cast iron fry pan to see how it goes for me.  I had only used them a few times in the past and don't really recall any good experiences, but my kitchen skills are somewhat improved now.

The first thing I wanted to do was to get an older pan.  The older pans seem to have a smoother cooking surface than the newer ones so it makes sense to me.  The older pans can be found on-line, but I am apprehensive as I worry about potential problems that I might not see until the delivery of the product.  Things like excessive rust, warping, or even cracking.  My goal is to keep watch at local thrift stores. Time passed with only the appearance of a few modern pans.

I recently had the good fortune to finally find a pan! The pan's underside faintly read Wagner Ware 105.    I wonder if the pan was once rusted and sanded down to cause the faintness.  I presume the date  of manufacture to be between 1914 and 1959. 

Wagner - MI00194
Wagner Pan

The pan has a diameter of about six inches.  Ideally I would prefer ten to twelve, so I will keep my eyes open for a larger one in the future.

I've seasoned the pan, and the cooking surface feels fairly smooth, but visually has some resinous looking globs.  A friend told me that I did a good job and that it would look better with use.

I will make a mention that I have two other larger pans, but they are modern.  One says Wagner 1891 on the underside.  I believe it was commemorating their one hundredth anniversary, but it is a modern pan.  The other says Lodge USA SK8. The two newer pans have a coarser feel to the cooking surface.  Some of
the deeper areas have a faint rust-brown color. Hopefully, the color  visible in the photo below.  Clicking on it should bring you to a more detailed photo.

Lodge - MI00193
 Modern Lodge Pan

I haven't begun any cooking with these pans yet.  I'm only holding off to get a bit more information before I start. I really would like to use a larger pan my question is: Until I buy an older style pan, are my large pans with the bit of rust color safe to use?  Will I be happy enough using them, or should I hold off until I can find older pans?