Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

I have a bee in my bonnet on altering a Lodge 12″ cast-iron skillet

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Lodge cast-iron cookware does not come with a smooth cooking surface. The iron is cast using sand molds and the skillet’s cooking surface is not ground or polished so the roughness from the sand mold remains. That is one reason older cast-iron such as Griswold is sought out: vintage skillets such as Griswold have a perfectly smooth cooking surface.

In fairness, one reason Lodge sells at a low price is that they skip the finishing work. Their 12″ cast-iron skillet currently is available from Amazon for $30. It includes a red silicone hot handle holder, which I would immediately remove and discard. I use oven mitts, so I don’t need the handle cover, and quite often I use cast iron skillets in the oven, as for cooking a steak (where I heat the skillet in a 500ºF oven).

People have learned, though, that you can take a Lodge skillet and smooth the rough bottom by grinding and sanding and give the cooking surface a completely polished smooth finish, which of course then must be seasoned. For seasoning cast iron and carbon steel cookware, I favor an unscented Larbee puck. The Field Company recommends grapeseed oil, which also works. (In seasoning, you apply the oil or the puck and then you wipe out all the oil you can before heating the pan.)

I am an apartment dweller with a paucity of power tools, so I called a local machine shop and learned that they would indeed do a small job like polishing the skillet’s cooking surface smooth (and they certainly have the tools). Minimum charge was US$40, not bad.

OTOH, I really don’t need another cast-iron skillet and in fact just passed along my 12″ Griswold to my niece. But I am entranced by the idea of turning a rough new Lodge cast-iron skillet into a perfectly smooth and wonderful cast-iron skillet. So I thought if I passed the idea along, it would free the bee from my bonnet. (See my cast-iron skillet reviews.)

And in looking on Amazon for the prices, what should I discover but this very fine looking 12″ cast-iron skillet with smooth finish for $17.50. I like the larger handles, and this looks as though it has a smooth finish already—and of course, you can polish this one as well, with less work, to the glassy smooth cooking surface that I had in mind (followed by seasoning). Update: I just watched this video reviewing some modern cast-iron skillets with smooth bottoms, and he brought up an interesting point regarding cheap cast iron from countries less encumbered by regulations: we don’t really know what metals were smelted to make that cast-iron pan. Iron, surely, and also carbon—but who knows what other metals from a junkyard may have been used. I think that’s a valid point. In addition, he mentions in passing that Lodge cast-iron is not so fine-grained as some vintage cast-iron. /update

Ah. I think the bee is gone.

Update: Here’s what it would take:

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2018 at 9:32 am

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