Cast Iron Care


Frontier America Trading Company

Cast Iron Cookware Use and Care

You have purchased cookware that was the most commonly used style and material in America through the middle of the 19th century. Iron pots were used for cooking as well as other household chores such as laundry, soap making, candle making, rendering animal fats, yarn dyeing and concentrating lye. Until the second third of the 19th century, cooking was accomplished over open fires in huge (by today’s standards) fireplaces. Pots were hung from lug poles, cranes, trammels and pot hooks. Dutch ovens, spiders and pots with legs stood right on the fire. Крупнейший отечественный завод поставляет опоры ЛЭП по всей России

The cookstove of cast or wrought iron became available and accepted during the second trimester of the century. These were carried on the Oregon trail but, they were soon abandoned due to their weight. The advent of the cookstove affected the design of cookware. The legs were no longer needed to allow fire underneath. Some designs had integral rings cast on the bottom to directly fit the lid openings in the top of the stove. Flat bottoms transferred heat more efficiently.

Cast Iron is a durable long lasting material. It does however have some frailties. It is a brittle material subject to breakage if dropped on a hard surface. Its archenemy is rust.

All Cast Ironware must be protected from rust by a light application of preservative. On ironware not meant for cooking, use a coating of linseed or mineral oil.

On new cookware, fill the pot about 2/3 full of water mixed with 1/3 cup white vinegar per gallon of water. Boil one hour. Cool and dump the vinegar water. Scour the inside of the pot with fine-grit wet/dry sandpaper or steel wool. Again fill the pot 2/3 full with fresh water adding fresh vegetable scraps such as carrot tops, potato peels, etc. Boil for one hour. After the pot has cooled, empty it out and again scour the inside until the surface is smooth. Wash the pot inside and out with plain water (no soap). Apply a light coating of vegetable oil or unsalted fat on both the inside and outside surfaces. (Spray cooking oils may be used.) Heat in a 250? to 350? oven for an hour then turn off and let cool down with the door closed. Alternatively hang over a slow fire for about two hours. New cookware will absorb the oil and may need additional applications during this process. When the article has cooled, wipe off any excess oil. The seasoning is now complete and you are ready to cook.

Well-seasoned ironware requires very little effort to clean. A copper Choir Boy scouring pad may be required for badly burned on food. Our old time cooks keep a container of clean fine sand for this purpose. Generally a little boiling water, a light scraping with a wood spoon and a quick wipe with a clean cloth are all that is required. Dry thoroughly and lightly re-oil. Store pots with the lids off to prevent condensation and possible rusting.

Thou shalt not apply soap or detergent to thy cast iron cookware.

Never pour cold water into hot cast iron or you may cause permanent damage.

Attempting to clean your cast iron by burning crud off in the fire will destroy the seasoning and may lead to warping or even cracking of the iron. Severe cleaning with soaps or detergents will remove the seasoning which will require a repeat of the seasoning process. Keep it clean, dry, and oiled.

Used cast iron of unknown ancestry or badly rusted requires a bit more extensive cleaning before seasoning. Badly rusted pots should be soaked in kerosene overnight to loosen the rust, then scoured. Wire brushes are best to remove the rust. Really bad cases may require the use of sandpaper and or commercial rust removers. (Avoid products that leave a paint primer.) Excess burned on food and grease may be removed with common oven cleaners. This is the only time that the use of soap or detergents might be recommended. Rinse well then season as new goods above.

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Beginning Cast Iron Cookery

Well-seasoned cast iron cookware is a joy to use upon an open fire. Heat transfer is excellent. Little fuel is required. Kept seasoned, well oiled, and rust free, it will last several lifetimes.

Kettles with legs are designed to be placed on a bed of coals. You need not build a huge fire under them. They are still used around the world where fuel is a precious commodity. Add fuel or new coals only as needed to keep the pot boiling or simmering as required.

Flat bottom kettles are designed to be hung above the fire or used on gridirons and stoves. Adjust the height, placement, and fire as needed. These pots if they have tight fitting lids may also be buried in preheated pits (The original crockpots.).

Dutch ovens or baking ovens are the most versatile of cookware. They may be used for all kinds of cooking from stews to biscuits. With their lipped covers, they can have heat applied both to the bottom and top. This makes them ideal for baking.

Experience is the best teacher when it comes to regulating the heat. Charcoal briquettes give excellent control. Best use of either regular coals or briquettes can be achieved by setting the fire upon a brick or stone hearth. In the field, carry an old pizza pan or cookie sheet on which to build the fire. This reflects the heat up to your cookware. In windy area it will also help to build or carry a wind deflector. Excess wind will fan the fire creating too much heat and reducing the longevity of the coals.

Baking Temperature Chart

Dutch oven temperature rules using charcoal briquettes. For each size, the numbers give the quantity of briquettes to place on top and bottom. Lift and rotate your oven 1/4 turn every 10 to 15 minutes then rotate the lid 1/4 turn in the opposite direction to avoid hot spots.

                              Slow            	Moderate            Hot           Very Hot    
Oven size 325° 350° 375° 400° 425° 450°
8" 10/5 11/5` 11/6 12/6 13/6 14/6
10" 13/6 14/7 16/7 17/8 18/9 19/10
12" 16/7 17/8 18/9 19/10 21/10 22/11
14" 10/10 21/11 22/12 24/12 25/13 26/14
16’ 22/12 24/12 25/13 27/13 28/14 30/14

©Lodge Manufacturing Co. & Bill Brummel; Lone Star Dutch Oven Society

For Dutch ovens and kettles used with recipes calling for simmering, a word is in order. Simmering is cooking a dish with a liquid that is kept just below the boiling point. A few bubbles will slowly form and burst before reaching the surface. Simmering takes place between 185° and 210° F. Bubbles breaking on the surface indicate the ingredients are being boiled, not simmered. You need to make adjustments in the heat supply.

©Lodge Manufacturing Co. & Bill Brummel; Lone Star Dutch Oven Society

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