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types of cast iron cookware

Digby

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am I right in thinking there are two types of cast iron cookware? I don't mean enameled, but raw cast iron, one is rougher (newer production technique), the other smoother (older technique). I hope I'm not imagining this, but I'm sure I read about this, but can't seem to find any information and I know you guys would know so....over to you.
 
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You are correct. Older cast iron was polished, newer is not. It saves on cost. AFAIK, the metal composition is the same.

My mother always preferred Wagner. It was polished and was fairly thin (for cast iron, that is). I don't know whether there is a method for polishing rough cast today, in order to get the old polished surface, but I doubt it. Sanding would leave residue, and milling would be difficult.

Jim
 

Beershaun

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Regular seasoning of your cast iron will create the smooth surface over time.
 
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Digby

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Regular seasoning of your cast iron will create the smooth surface over time.
I dunno...does it really though? I have a rough surfaced pan and feel like, for occasional bacon and steak, it is a fair amount of trouble (flaking). Maybe I'm not seasoning it frequently enough or well enough (any tips?), but I wonder if the smoother surfaced pans need less seasoning and flake less. Anyone with experience of both?
 

tmocke

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I use Lodge cast iron and DeBuyer carbon steel.
Lodge cast iron is porous but now (3-4 years of use) developed perfect surface - eggs, pancake just glides over the surface. Me and my wife always come back to this pan, after trying others.

Debuyer carbon steel (3mm thickness) is smooth and bond between seasoning and pan is not so strong and I have constantly reseason it. Maybe it is Canola oil, that is not fit for the purpose. Will try with sunflower seed oil.

Had Ikea carbon steel pan - it was not smooth like De buyer, very easy to season, but it was thin (1.5mm) and warped because of overheating.

Both the Lodge and Debuyer are immovable for my wife.

And if anything sticks while cooking, thin, metal turner (???) helps a lot, you can you force and just slide and unstick everything.
 

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Vandemann

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I have a 60 year old Lodge pan that's become non-stick and indestructible with with usage. Also a fan of Debuyer but you have to be careful not to use them with liquids and heat and wipe them with flax seed oil after every use.
 
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I dunno...does it really though? I have a rough surfaced pan and feel like, for occasional bacon and steak, it is a fair amount of trouble (flaking). Maybe I'm not seasoning it frequently enough or well enough (any tips?), but I wonder if the smoother surfaced pans need less seasoning and flake less. Anyone with experience of both?

Because I was familiar with cast iron from my youth, I bought cast iron for myself in the '60s when I moved away from home. It was rough. No offense intended, but here is my personal opinion: I won't use rough cast. YMMV.

Jim
 
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Digby

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No offense intended, but here is my personal opinion: I won't use rough cast. YMMV.
Not offended in the least, but what are your reasons? (I have heard others say similar)
 
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Not offended in the least, but what are your reasons?

Seasoning is less even and less effective, and surface is more difficult to clean. I consider rough cast as being good only for deep-fat cooking.

I guess I was spoiled by two things from my early years: 1) good polished cast, and 2) old people who had been, for many years, intimately familiar with using and maintaining cast iron. They cherished their polished cast iron, and referred to rough cast in terms not commonly associated with such modest people. :D

Jim
 

Beershaun

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I dunno...does it really though? I have a rough surfaced pan and feel like, for occasional bacon and steak, it is a fair amount of trouble (flaking). Maybe I'm not seasoning it frequently enough or well enough (any tips?), but I wonder if the smoother surfaced pans need less seasoning and flake less. Anyone with experience of both?
My lodge cast iron started out rough and over time with oiling with plant based oils and heating it has developed a smoother surface. I'd suggest searching YouTube for videos about seasoning and maintaining cast iron cookware for good tips.
 

tmtomh

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Like @Jim Taylor , I strongly prefer smooth, to the point that I personally won't purchase or use rough.

That said, my experience has also been that there's good-quality "pebbled" rough cast iron, and then there's cheap, really rough cast iron. The latter is IMHO unusable and a great example of ruining a product by trying to squeeze out an extra few percentage points of cost savings during production.
 

moonlight rainbow dream

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Some old cast iron was machined smooth from the factory. Other pieces have become smooth over long and frequent use. If you want something with similar finish, you can get it but it's $$$. Check out Smithey, Stargazer, etc. (there are a lot of these makers now). I think you'll find that seasoning actually has a tougher time sticking to a highly polished versus rougher surface.

A solid turner/flipper/fish spatula is really nice to use with cast iron pans as you can keep scraping up the bits that do stick.
 

Ken1951

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I have no idea what finish my cast iron pans started out with. Purchased them over 30 years ago and I know we didn't pay a lot for them. They are very heavy and now have a near perfect surface. I have 3 sizes and use them far more often than the pretty decent stainless ones we have.
 

Axo1989

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I found some information:



Jim

Thanks for the links (I haven't seen the pebbly stuff tbh). Looks like the US has its own tradition of cast-iron gear that I've never seen here (Griswold's sounds like a shop on Diagon Alley).

If I have funds spare, I usually check around the usual sale times to see what DJs is offering from Le Creuset (in addition to some enamelled stuff and a grill pan, I have their small 20 cm frypan which gets better with age, so I'll eventually get the 26 and/or 30 cm sizes to replace similar non-stick that don't age so well). They are machined smooth of course (and incidentally enamelled on the non-working surfaces) and not even slightly inexpensive.
 
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JeffGB

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I prefer smooth cast iron for my pans. I have an old Le Creuset made before they started enameling the inside of their cast iron. In addition, I have sanded and steel woolled it many times. It is now smooth, holds an excellent seasoning, and is non-stick. I also have a few rough cast iron pans from Lodge that have become pretty nonstick over the years but I usually prefer the smooth Le Creuset.

I have had a few cast iron woks as well. The heavy Lodge was terrible :). The best woks I have found are made of smooth, thin, cast iron and are really cheap from China. They come from the factory really smooth. A little bit of seasoning and they are amazing, and did I mention cheap?
 

MAB

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I use lots of antique cast iron, mostly Wagner, all with finely polished surfaces. Most are from my grandparents.

I have some Lodge, I don’t mind the rough unfinished surface but they are quite heavy.

I have two modern pans by Finex:
They are nice with polished cooking surface, but also heavy.

These are compacted graphite iron and seem to be lighter as a result:
They look nice, I don’t own.
 
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