Episode 99: Cast Iron History, Seasoning, and Restoration with Ned Adams of Dutch Oven Daddy

Saturday, June 30, 2018
On this week's extended episode, we interview Ned Adams of Dutch Oven Daddy and he gives us all the details of cast iron in America from Griswold, Wagner Ware, and Lodge. He then gets practical and we talk about how to season a piece of cast iron and what to do when the cast iron looks old, gunky, and rusted. Plus, we're having a giveaway on the Hungry Squared Instagram for a Lodge 10" cast iron skillet. Plus, we talk about how not to get hot, but stay fed during summer on our Food Fight segment.

Let's taco 'bout it!

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Let's taco 'bout it!

  • Ned got into cast iron when his mother-in-law gave him a cast iron skillet and decided to cook her a meal each week when she broke her leg overseas.
  • He got a factory tour of Lodge at their 3rd Street Foundry. Lodge takes several types of iron, melts it down, pour it into molds, cleans off the pieces, then pre-seasons the cast iron, boxes the cookware up and ships it out.
  • How does the polishing happen? Most manufacturers don't polish the cast iron anymore, because it can be quite expensive. It was previously done by hand, which is time-intensive.
  • The molds are made of two sand molds.
  • Lodge cast iron is made of 3 ingredients: pig iron (iron found in natural environments), old cast-off cast iron pieces, and scrap steel.
  • The older brands are Griswold, Wagner Ware, Birmingham Stove and Range (BSR), CHF (Chicago Hardware Foundry).
  • Griswold's logo usually involves a cross and the word Griswold is stamped on the bottom of the pan.

  • Gate marks are from pieces the pre-1900s. It was made when the pan was being pinched off from the mold.

  • WagnerWare has a lovely script with a shared W in the logo.

  • Camp ovens generally have 3 legs on the bottom and lip on the lid (invented by Paul Revere, a metal worker) to hold the charcoal. Self-basting lids on the camp ovens have bumps on the inside.
  • How does cast iron seasoning work and how do you do it? We've talked about it before on a previous episode here, but Ned gets into seasoning and how he does it. He says you can use whatever oil, just as long as you get it to the right temperature for the oil used. Per Ned, anytime your food sticks, you need to season your pan more. Ned goes 3 to 5 layers of seasoning. Cast iron before seasoning is not black, it's gray. 
  • How much oil are you using? You don't need very much oil--a very thin layer--on the inside and outside also. Rub it all over the pan, then take a rag and wipe it down so it doesn't look shiny.
  • By the way, Ned and friends started a new endeavor making their own seasoning called BuzzyWaxx. Check it out here!

  • Temperature and time: Go over the oil's smoke point for about an 1 hour. After the last seasoning, don't add additional oil for storage.
  • How do you clean your cast iron: You can use soap and water. The soap will not strip the polymerization layer unless it has lye in it (i.e. sodium hydroxide...Winter misspoke and said aluminum hydroxide--sheesh!)
  • Restoration methods: Spray some Easy-Off (yellow cap has the lye) and use a electrolysis tank. 
  • You can make your own electrolysis tank (or E-Tank) per Ned's website. Or you can do a 50% vinegar and 50% water to remove any rust if you don't want to make an electrolysis tank.

  • What is the leftover carbon on an old piece of cast-iron? It's baked-on food! Decades of food! Gross! You might have to use a spoon to scrape that stuff off after it being electrolysis tank or the vinegar/water mixture.
  • Griswold chicken fryer was quite cool to see. It's also called a combo cooker or double dutch oven.
  • Ned's collecting a 3-notch Lodge set from the 50s. They are numbered to 3-14 (no 11 or 13 in this set). 
  • Joseph Lodge started out in South Pittsburg, Tennessee with the company Blacklock (pre-Lodge), but it burned down. When they built a new one, they named the new company after the family name. They also made other things besides cookware--little dogs, irons, garden gnomes--to survive during lean times.

  • You can damage your cast iron: Do not throw your cast iron into the fire to restore.
  • Pitting: Old stoves would put out sulphur and would cause pitting in the cast iron.
  • You don't have to worry about acidic food if the seasoning has been done properly.
  • Warping and cracking happens when there are extremes of temperatures. If you're cleaning a piece of hot or warm piece of cast iron, make sure to wash it with hot water.
  • You can find Ned at his website Dutch Oven Daddy, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Also, join their Cast Iron Community.
  • We're doing a giveaway for a 10" Lodge Skillet on Dutch Oven Daddy's and Hungry Squared's Instagram. Woot woot!

  • During our Food Fight segment, we chat about how to keep the house cool even though you need to feed your family. Lee usually makes salads (with more stuff than lettuce) or sandwiches. We often use our Instant Pot or sous vide machine to keep the temperature down. Go to the grocery store to create a snack meal (aka charcuterie board). Or BBQ outside!

Run Time: 1 hour 13 minutes

Sponsors: We have no sponsors for this episode. If you're interested in working with us, please contact us. We'd love to partner with you.


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