Cheap Cast Iron Pots

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Pwingsx
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2007/05/09 19:22:00 (permalink)

Cheap Cast Iron Pots

Is there a big difference between name brands and no-name cast iron cookware? If we ran across a 5-quart Dutch Oven that was on sale for $9.00 at Macy's, would it be as good as a piece of Lodge or Wagner or La Creuset or Griswold at ten times the price?

I once bought some discount non-stick cookware that actually started shedding its coating the first time it came out of the dishwasher. I have never gotten over the embarrassment and "I told you so's" of that one.
#1

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    edwmax
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/09 20:45:11 (permalink)
    If the pan has about the same thinkness of metal and weight as the "brand" names, I would say there is basically no difference. That said, there are different grades of cast iron. Some pans may have a rougher surface than others. This may or not be a problem. Deep frying or boiling in a pan with a rough surface should not be a problem, but frying an egg in a rough pan could be.

    The Brand name manufacturers offer pans that have been smoothed or ground on the inside and seasoned & un-seasoned pans. If the pan has not been seasoned, you would need to do so before using.
    #2
    zataar
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/09 21:13:02 (permalink)
    We found a set of 2 cast iron skillets at Target on sale for $9.99. One 10" and an 8". They were exactly like our other Lodge cast iron in every way. They were made in the USA. Very smooth on the interior.
    #3
    UncleVic
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/09 21:14:36 (permalink)
    Good response Edwmax. But for that price, and todays metal prices... My only thought that it's real thin walled there. (Pretty much one of them puppies that warp upon too (or close to too) much heat).
    #4
    GordonW
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/09 22:01:19 (permalink)
    I've read that an important consideration is that cast iron cookware be made in the USA. There are regulations as to what can go into the metal used to make the pot or pan, with a view to food safety.
    #5
    edwmax
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/09 22:06:12 (permalink)
    Thanks UncleVic,

    I agree, there are some thin walled cast iron pans out there. They are lighter in weight and can't take high heat. But for some pepole that can't lift the heavier pans these may still be usefull. Just don't use high heat on them.
    #6
    Pwingsx
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 00:44:10 (permalink)
    Help, my thread has been hijacked and turned to dog food.

    Yes, I was considering the weight and thickness were the keys. If it weighs well, and the heft is not all in the handle and sides, I think we will go for it.

    Thanks.

    Resume your arguments, gentlemen.

    I did clean out some of the totally OT posts here, they need to be discussed in a thread by them selfs.
    MikeS.
    #7
    Jimeats
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 10:34:12 (permalink)
    Most imports of cast iron are made with reclaimed iron from this country.
    To me anyway, they are a waste of money and time.
    Spend the extra few bucks and invest in a good quality cast pan. Such as Griswold or the Wagner Ware, Piqua and Warpack are others. This old cast will last a lifetime with some care.
    I have noticed that quite a few of the TV chefs have lent their name to a cast iron collection, I just don't see any quality there, and fairly expensive for poor castings.
    It's that time of year with many yard sales, flea markets etc. You should be able to pick up a decent pan for a fair price. Condition of the pan can vary try to find one with light surface rust not a deep pitted one.
    Built up crud on the exterior of the pan can be a good sign also=well used and cared for. There are many nockoffs or reproduction Griswolds and Wagner out there so be carefull, take a good look at the castings.
    I probably have about 200 or so pans in my collection, and still adding. I'll also add that there were many local foundrys that made great pans, some lighter some heavyer, but many had no makers mark, still a good pan. Chow Jim
    #8
    Ashphalt
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 11:23:18 (permalink)
    I bought some cheap-os years ago when I was first on my own and discovered that the surface was not smooth, but slightly ridged, as if they hadn't gone to the final step of machine finishing. The things have never held a season as well as my Mom's old pan (which she may have bought used during WWII).
    #9
    CajunKing
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 11:25:30 (permalink)
    I will second what Jimeats is saying, a cast iron pot, dutch oven, skillet is an investment. Something that will not let you down over time, as long as you take care of it.

    Bite the bullet and pay the extra for a really good one.

    I have some that has been handed down from my great grand mother, I love using it.
    I have also found some great pieces in yard sales and flea markets, many people get rid of it aafter it has been handed down to them because they don't know how to use it properly, and they get rid of it.


    #10
    CajunKing
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 11:29:04 (permalink)
    also looking at dutch ovens, are you going to be cooking in doors or outside with it??

    I have two dutchies I love, but one is an indoor, the other for use outdoors.

    The out door one is an older griswold, nice and thick on the bottom and beefy sides too.

    Where as the indoor one, is a little thinner on the sides.

    Both work great, but the heavier thicker one is good for burying in a pie of coals and baking things.
    #11
    BarbaraCt
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 12:17:15 (permalink)
    Back to the original post, I don't put my non-stick in the dishwasher. By washing it by hand, it seems to last longer.
    I bought a couple of Emeril ware small non-stick skillets a few years ago. The handles were heavier than the pans, and I have to be careful to put their weight over a prong on my gas stove, or they will tip.
    I have had good luck buying older cast iron skillets at garage sales. I use these to fry chicken in the summer on my gas grill. It keeps the heat and mess out of the kitchen.
    #12
    HollyDolly
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 13:04:50 (permalink)
    I still have the cast iron pans that belonged to my late mother.
    Don't have any idea what brand they are,but I'm 50,and the pans must be almost as old as i am.I still use them,but haven't fried chicken in them in a long time,trying to watch what i eat so don't fry much of anything at all.But a good pan will last you for years.
    #13
    Pwingsx
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 15:12:47 (permalink)
    Well, nuts, now I don't know what to do.

    It's for indoor cooking, only.

    I understand about the ridges on the cheaper brands. That does tend to interefere with what you're cooking, as you guys have said.

    Oh well, if we miss this sale, there's always another down the road.

    As to picking them up at garage sales, people have gotten more savvy about those than they used to be. You don't find them much around here without a pretty hefty price tag.

    Gotta think some more on this.
    #14
    V960
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/10 15:53:43 (permalink)
    Griswold is the only way to go...ok maybe Lodge...Cheap stuff IS cheah crap. They last for a hundred years, why try and save ten bucks?-
    #15
    BT
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/11 22:24:34 (permalink)
    I own a cast-iron "wok" (the quotes are because the thing is flat-bottomed and really more resembles an Indian kadhai than a Chinese wok) that I got from Macy's for around $12 and it may be my favorite cooking pot. As a wok, it is great because the cast iron holds heat and the thing doesn't cool off when you add the food as woks made of other materials can on home stoves. But it's also the perfect shape for all sorts of curries, stews and braises.

    Whether the Macy's line of cast iron is, strictly speaking, of the same quality as the best American brands, I can't say, but the Macy's pots cook just fine and are a bargain. I'd buy it (and I own a 1940's Griswold Dutch oven my mom got as a wedding present and gave to me).

    Why try to save 10 bucks? Rather, I'd ask, "Why spend 10 bucks more unless you have a pretty good idea what it's going to buy you?"
    #16
    enginecapt
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/11 23:39:35 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Jimeats
    There are many nockoffs or reproduction Griswolds and Wagner out there so be carefull, take a good look at the castings.

    Can you elaborate on this? What should I look for to tell if what I already have and what I'll buy in the future are the real thing? I have mainly Griswolds, both large and small trademark.
    #17
    Twinwillow
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/11 23:47:44 (permalink)
    I bought a very heavy old (1930's) seasoned 10" cast iron skillet at a flea market in California for $20.00.
    It's without a doubt, the very best buy I ever made. The pan is great! It's got years of seasoning on it and it cooks like a charm.
    The "dealer" had a very large selection at the time. I am now sorry I didn't buy more.
    Btw, On the bottom of the pan is inscribed, "Wagnerware" in a 30's style logo. With the word, "Sydney" underneath. Does anyone think this pan could have been Australian in origin?

    #18
    MikeS.
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/11 23:58:46 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by CajunKing

    also looking at dutch ovens, are you going to be cooking in doors or outside with it??

    I have two dutchies I love, but one is an indoor, the other for use outdoors.

    The out door one is an older griswold, nice and thick on the bottom and beefy sides too.

    Where as the indoor one, is a little thinner on the sides.

    Both work great, but the heavier thicker one is good for burying in a pie of coals and baking things.


    Whomever would want a pie made of coals???
    #19
    enginecapt
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 02:32:01 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by twinwillow

    Btw, On the bottom of the pan is inscribed, "Wagner" in a 30's style logo. With the word, "Sydney" underneath. Does anyone think this pan could have been Australian in origin?


    I just checked the bottom of one of my Wagners and it says "Sidney O, for Sidney, Ohio. Are you sure yours says Sydney?
    #20
    BT
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 03:23:25 (permalink)
    Regarding the question at issue, if you want to collect cookware, go for the older Griswolds etc. If you just want something to cook with everyday (and don't want to haunt flee markets looking for bargains--bargains a whole lot of people are looking for these days because there are lots of collectors), the Macy's line are fine. Really.

    When it comes to cast iron, what probably matters more to the average user is not who made it but how you take care of it. There are various opinions on that, but personally I never use soap on mine--just lots of hot water and a plastic scrubber; then dry very thoroughly and wipe with just a bit of vegetable oil before putting away.

    Treated that way, the Macy's pots will last longer than you or I will and probably as long as other brands.
    #21
    Jimeats
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 06:31:24 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by enginecapt

    quote:
    Originally posted by Jimeats
    There are many nockoffs or reproduction Griswolds and Wagner out there so be carefull, take a good look at the castings.

    Can you elaborate on this? What should I look for to tell if what I already have and what I'll buy in the future are the real thing? I have mainly Griswolds, both large and small trademark.
    Be more than happy to. Griswold had a very strict inspection for their products, they didn't even sell seconds.
    At a quick glance look to the handle, smooth finish on the outside and at the hole, no slag. Look to the top edge of the pan, no lateral cut marks, casting there will be smooth and nicely finished. No areas that look like they were ground with a grinder to remove excess slag from the casting.
    The Lettering! Always crisp and clear and even. I've even run across a pan that was miss spelled, bought it for show and tell, it was cheap. Then it comes down to the cast metal itself, hard to explain here but I can see and feel it.
    I have seen some repros that were of exelant quality, very hard to tell if it was the real McCoy. This was do to when the company closed in the 60s many of the mold makers took their molds with them and either turned out products on their own or sold them. Chow Jim
    #22
    Twinwillow
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 10:58:20 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by enginecapt

    quote:
    Originally posted by twinwillow

    Btw, On the bottom of the pan is inscribed, "Wagner" in a 30's style logo. With the word, "Sydney" underneath. Does anyone think this pan could have been Australian in origin?


    I just checked the bottom of one of my Wagners and it says "Sidney O, for Sidney, Ohio. Are you sure yours says Sydney?


    I just checked. Yes, of course! It says, "Sidney" with an i. And inscribed below that: -O- (with the dashes, just as I wrote). Obviously for Ohio. Thanks a lot!
    #23
    V960
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 18:45:43 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by enginecapt

    quote:
    Originally posted by Jimeats
    There are many nockoffs or reproduction Griswolds and Wagner out there so be carefull, take a good look at the castings.

    Can you elaborate on this? What should I look for to tell if what I already have and what I'll buy in the future are the real thing? I have mainly Griswolds, both large and small trademark.

    A true Griswold is lighter but w/ a finer finish than any other pan I have held. I have about a hundred and am selling them because...well what is the use of having a 14" footed Dutch oven sitting in your barn loft when it is selling for $500? Griswolds have a finish that is unmistakeable...doesn't work so well in our ebay world but it is there.
    #24
    V960
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 18:48:05 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by enginecapt

    quote:
    Originally posted by Jimeats
    There are many nockoffs or reproduction Griswolds and Wagner out there so be carefull, take a good look at the castings.

    Can you elaborate on this? What should I look for to tell if what I already have and what I'll buy in the future are the real thing? I have mainly Griswolds, both large and small trademark.

    A true Griswold is lighter but w/ a finer finish than any other pan I have held. I have about a hundred and am selling them because...well what is the use of having a 14" footed Dutch oven sitting in your barn loft when it is selling for $500? Griswolds have a finish that is unmistakeable...doesn't work so well in our ebay world but it is there.
    #25
    enginecapt
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 20:07:00 (permalink)
    Thank you both for the info.
    #26
    Pat T Hat
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 21:44:58 (permalink)
    Not that it means anything or maybe it does but the newer (say made in the last 50 years) cast iron has less carbon. Well, so I've been told.
    Seems to me they don't blacken as fast, as well, or as easy. They don't get that "no stick" seasoning as easily either, at least in my mind. I however could be bias to my black as coal, can slide an egg across oldies.
    #27
    Twinwillow
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/12 23:28:38 (permalink)
    There are hundreds of assorted brands of old cast iron pots and pans of all types and sizes listed on Ebay. Just enter the brand you want and see how many are up for auction or, "buy it now".
    I was amazed!
    #28
    Pwingsx
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/13 14:22:55 (permalink)
    I'll look, and thanks for the idea, but I am paranoid as all hell, and don't like dealing with e-bay for the most part. Maybe I can get my older sister to cut a deal for me, as she uses e-bay all the time.
    #29
    Rick F.
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    RE: Cheap Cast Iron Pots 2007/05/13 15:08:44 (permalink)
    I have one no-name skillet that was, I believe, my great-grandmother's; the bottom is warped, but it's still good for oven use. We also have large and small skillets of more recent vintage, and the large ones have lids also. All are well-seasoned (not as tricky as some would have us believe!), but I still avoid cooking acid foods and liquids in them for any length of time.

    I was given a 2- and a 5-quart Staub "cocotte" for Christmas. They are absolutely wonderful and I believe somewhat cheaper than Le Creuset, and perhaps a bit lighter, too. Yesterday I saw a Staub 8-quart pot on eBay for about $120 including shipping. If Jan would turn her back I'd buy it in a minute.
    #30
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