Cast iron cookware saw its heyday in America’s late 19th century and on into the middle of the 20th. High quality ore from Ohio and Pennsylvania was cast into skillets, dutch ovens, waffle irons, and a whole lot else. These pieces were finished by hand, their cooking surfaces were machined smooth and the iron’s rough cast texture was removed. This removal of metal also made for lighter pans that were easier to use, were faster to season, and more non-stick. This finishing process is a thing of the past, and is one of the main benefits for collecting and using vintage cast iron.
There are many ‘recipes’ for how to season a cast iron pan. Many of these recipes have been handed down from generation to generation. Our process, which we’ve tested extensively, yields excellent results provided you use the right oil, and don’t rush the process.
What you need:
Freshly cast iron pan cookware
It’s important that the pan be as cleaned down to the bare iron if possible. All prior seasoning should be removed with a lye solution, and any rust must be removed with vinegar, or electrolysis.
The choice of oil is very important. It’s necessary to choose an oil that will polymerize, harden, and adhere to the pan. Flaxseed oil is a common choice, but we’ve also gotten satisfactory results from shortening (Crisco).
Your home oven will heat the oil that’s been applied to the pan and cause it to harden and darken. This is the part of the process that can’t be rushed, it takes some time.
You should always heat cast iron with something in it, even if it’s only a bit of cooking oil. You can damage the seasoning by overheating it. Avoid cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes or citrus in the pan for long periods of time. They’ll react with the seasoning and the iron and impart an unpleasant flavor.
To clean, deglaze the pan with a bit of water while it is still hot. Let the pan cool and use your hands or a plastic scrub pad to remove any stubborn bits of food. A bit of kosher salt can also be used to soak up excess oil, and to act as a mild abrasive. Many folks advocate for not using any soap at all, but we’ve found a small amount of dish soap won’t harm a well seasoned pan. But do avoid using harsh abrasives and cleaning detergents. Wipe thoroughly dry, or heat on the stove top to dry, and store in a safe, dry place.
With proper seasoning (don’t rush it) and proper care a vintage cast iron pan will last for generations to come.
It used to be that the options available for heavy duty, high grade, powerful flashlights were limited. Old incandescent bulb technology eventually gave way to xenon and then LED technology; and alkaline batteries gave way to lithium. This means that today the newest flashlights are smaller and brighter by several orders of magnitude than those of just ten years ago.
The chart above compares the maximum and minimum lumen output for four Foursevens flashlights, each using LED emitters. While lumens measure overall brightness it’s useful to note that other factors can greatly influence illumination characteristics. However, when you realize that just a handful of years ago comparably sized flashlights would have output just 10-15 maximum lumens you can see how fast the industry has improved and why it hasn’t looked back.
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We’re proud to offer another major installment of our popular axe restoration workshop series. Over the course of 2 weeks, we’ll be hosting 4 workshops at 2 different skill levels at Best Made Company Headquarters at 36 White Street in New York City. These workshops are sure to sell out quickly so reserve your spot today.
Breakfast for dinner, only one way to warm up in this weather.
"Big Jug" of Organic Maple Syrup
by C.W. ‘Butch’ Welch
It’s my semi-educated guess that the old saying, “Man can’t live on bread alone!”, first rolled off the lips of a camp cook several hundred years ago! Why? Because with a sourdough starter and a few other fixin’s in his or her chuck box, a camp cook can make not only bread, but also hot cakes, donuts, cakes, pita bread, rolls, or any other yeast leavened bread. And, thinned out with a little water, it makes a great batter for chicken fried steaks, veggies, seafood, and delicacies of all types!
My first recollection of the term “sourdough” dates to my grade school days when Mrs. Pugmire, my fifth grade teacher, assigned the class to read Jack London’s THE CALL OF THE WILD. At the time I really didn’t focus or spend any extra brain time on sourdough but it did go into my memory archives. Along about this time my Dad, Buzz, began subscribing to Field & Stream magazine. As a youngster who lived to go hunting and fishing with Dad, I vicariously hunted and fished all over the country through the stories of Ted Trueblood, a Field and Stream writer, who later became an editor. Ted often mentioned using “sourdough” in meals he prepared in his camp. These mentions of sourdough in Ted Trueblood’s articles caught my attention and piqued my curiosity to learn more. Little did I know when reading these articles that I would one day work with Ted Trueblood’s son, Jack. My life-long interest in eating took a quantum leap forward in 1977 when an uncle, a marine diesel mechanic, gave me a starter he’d got from a cook on a merchant ship years earlier.
I started making sourdough hotcakes, or pancakes as some call them, right away and can count on one hand the store-bought pancakes I’ve eaten since then. The logical progression for sourdough cooks is to progress from hotcakes to bread. But…do an internet search for “Epic Failure in Two Acts” and you will see a photo of my first attempt at making sourdough bread. Imagine if you will the heaviest and most dense substance ever to come out of an oven and a blue-eyed blond young woman walking out your door, never to be dated again! The moral of the story – Do not try to impress anyone the first time you TRY to make sourdough bread!
Yeast leavened breads date back to the time the Egyptian pyramids were under construction; and, in fact, yeast leavened breads in all cultures around the world were made with what we now call “sourdough” until the debut of bakers’ yeast in the late 1880’s. Using this mixture of naturally occurring yeast spores along with a common naturally occurring bacterium named Lacto bacilli to leaven your bread instead of the little foil packets from the grocery store is a part of our history.
There are many documented instances of sourdough starters being handed down generation to generation and often exceeding a hundred years old. Whether your starter is an heirloom handed down through your family, given to you by a friend, or one purchased from a commercial source, baking sourdough bread takes one back to an earlier time. I consider my sourdough starter a window into the past as well as a portal into the future!