Horror Stories of Cast Iron Cookware Past

Sunday, January 23, 2011 @ 11:01 AM

As I have stated before, using a properly cared for and properly seasoned piece of cast iron cookware, it can last for generations. I have a deep, cast iron skillet with a lid that must be around 100 years old. I use it all the time. It has moved with me countless times and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It is priceless to me. Don’t get me wrong. I have tried and had other non-stick cookware in my house from time to time. I don’t care how well you care for them, they do get scratched and pitted over time. Then they become throw away pans. There is no chance to re-coat them with non-stick. Unlike cast iron that can be re-seasoned anytime.

My mother had a cast iron Dutch oven that she used and abused. Not for cooking mind you, she used it as a humidifier in the winter time. We had a wood burning stove that she kept the Dutch oven on top, filled with water, all winter long. When warmer weather came, the Dutch oven was stored, haphazardly, and over the years, it oxidized, became what looked like a worthless piece of junk. I inherited this Dutch oven when my Mom moved away. (She was going to throw it out.) I have salvaged the cast iron pot and restored it to it’s proper order. I now use it to cook roasts and stews with, and for stove top deep frying.

Her parents had also had a summer place that the mice had the run of the place most of the year. Her parents used to keep things in cabinets and just washed them properly at the beginning of every season. My Mom got to the point though where at the end of every season, everything got placed in big plastic garbage bags before they were put into the cabinets. It is all washed again when it comes out of the bags anyway so I don’t really see the point. Some things, if not used, were just kept in the bags for many a year. This is how I stumbled across one of my now, cast iron skillets. I was the first to the cabin that year and had the pleasure of sweeping up the mice poop and clearing the cob webs. I started taking things out from under the cabinet and stumbled across a rusted, nasty looking cast iron skillet. I was horrified! I never thought that I would be able to save it. But with careful scrubbing, and a proper re-seasoning, I was able to salvage the pan. I removed it from the cabin and brought it home. It gets love on a weekly basis now.

I must say that I am still actually quite surprised at my mother’s treatment of this black gold. Her family came Pennsylvania. A well know cast iron foundry region. She also came from an upbringing of parents that were in the Great Depression. They used to save and re-use everything. No doubt why they still had a cast iron skillet. Besides the fact that they started out with their summer place that was quite remote, and they lived in tents, in the woods, cooking over campfires. Ergo, the cast iron cookware. Over the years, as the cabin built up around them, they brought old things from home, and bought other peoples old items at yard sales, to furnish and stock the cabin for summer living. I have been known myself to take older items there that still work, but maybe not as good. I had a slow cooker that was getting tired and I bought myself a new one. The old one still worked, just slower. Seeing as we did not have one at the cabin, it now has another home. It only gets used once or twice a year, so the old girl can keep up.

Those are my cast iron horror stories. Not that horrific, but scary just the same. I care for my cast iron cookware, and have taught my boys to care and respect the black gold as well. The Boy Scouts have also taught them the respect of cast iron. One of their leaders was very learned in cast iron care and cooking, and taught my boys well. I don’t have much to pass on to my kids when the time comes, but I hope that they will treasure the black gold that I have been caring for, for them.

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