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Old 03-20-2016, 10:33 PM
Deb_C Deb_C is offline
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Question New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

Hi, all! I'm relatively new to collecting cast iron, but have had an interest in it for years now. I had heard so many extolling the virtues of cast iron (many "facts" which I've learned are not necessarily true), so I started with what I could easily get my hands on - modern Lodge - which I liked, but never loved. Then, on a trip to North Carolina, I stepped into a huge consignment store and found an old unmarked Lodge and a Wagner Sidney -O- that shoved me right over the edge of "interest" and into complete obsession. That Wagner has turned into a pan that I use almost daily, and couldn't imagine my life without. Dramatic? Yes, but what can I say? I love a good piece of cookware.

Fast forward to this last week. I graduated from nursing school on Saturday and decided to finally invest in some pans now that I'll actually have time to cook real meals instead of eating canned chicken salad from the dollar store and reheating take-out (in my Wagner). To ease my guilt about spending so much money, I called them 'graduation presents' and reminded myself that I deserve them. I do love a good flea market/antique hunt, but here in Northern California, it's been nearly impossible to find anything outside of an antique store, and they've all been priced at or above what's available on ebay with far less selection.

Anyhow, I should have a #8 Victor and #12 early "Wagner" arriving before the end of the month. As I understand it, some of the earlier pans were made thinner and lighter than those that followed, but since I don't know if older Wagner and Victor are considered "thin," I don't know if there are any precautions I should take when using them.

If they are thinner-walled, how should I go about heating them up on my gas burners? Start on low heat and then slowly crank it up? Or can I start on medium? Can I use high heat on these without issue, or are they not meant to be used at full blast? I want to be sure that the pans get used, but I also want to be sure that they remain in good condition for decades to come.

Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2016, 05:40 AM
JustinR JustinR is offline
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

Never go from 0-60 with a pan. Never start on high heat. Actually, IMO, I dont see a need to ever have a pan on high heat. I never go above medium heat and if you are patient that will smoke any oil you have in there anyways.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:56 AM
Jeffrey R. Jeffrey R. is offline
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Location: NEK, Vermont
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

First congratulations on graduating from nursing school.

So you are getting some nice cast iron. First thing to remember is they are not throw away pans like those teflon pans. They have been around for a good long time and it will be up to you to keep them in good shape to be passed on when you are ready. Good cast iron pieces are like a life time thing. I have some pieces from 1700s early 1800s that I would have no problem using right next to my 1950s Griswold's. So lifetime and then some.

Like JustinR stated, Never start on high heat

But also do not take a hot piece and throw it in the sink with water. Leave it on the stove, eat dinner and then clean it.

Do not leave it soaking in the sink. Wash it, dry it, oil it.

Cook with some kind of oil, grease or butter. Remember they are not teflon. But with the right care and seasoning they will last a very long time. You might need to refresh you're seasoning at times, but that is not a big deal.

Acidic foods like tomatoes, can damage seasoning, and should be avoided until the seasoning is well-established.

Cooking with cast iron holds more heat than all other types of pans. You will learn that your best friend will be in controlling your heat.

Love your cast iron
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Old 03-21-2016, 08:33 AM
MDFraley MDFraley is offline
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

So you're going to become a nurse??? Just apply some of those nursing traits you have learned and apply them to your cast iron care and you will do fine.
The guys have told you most everything you need to know so I will not repeat them. Only suggestion I might have is to get you a Birmingham Stove & Range skillet (BSR) in the size you prefer and do some of your experimental cooking with it before using the more delicate pieces, "Griswold & Wagner".
The BSR skillets are virtually indestructible and are also collectibles. The "Red Mountain Series" are older and the "Century Series" can be found at most any antique shops and various resale shops. Take a few minutes to check out our C.I.C. section on skillets and it will help you get acquainted with them.

Good luck with your collecting/cooking.
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:23 AM
Deb_C Deb_C is offline
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

Thanks for all of the replies so far. In terms of not ever using high heat for applications like searing - how does that work? Is it still possible to get a nice crust on meat very quickly over medium heat, without the inside getting warmed up? (This question is more theoretical than anything, since I'm not generally one who sears on the stove and then transfers to the oven, but I do think it's important to know.) Also, can I put a cold(ish) or room temp steak into a searing hot (or... medium hot...) pan without issue?

I like the idea of beginning with a starter pan. Are the BSRs as thin as the early Wagners and Griswolds or are they more akin to the thicker Lodge of today?
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:48 AM
MDFraley MDFraley is offline
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

BSR's are more like the Lodge and are heavy. I have never seen a warped BSR but have read that one was warped which is rare. They must have tried cleaning it in an open pit fire or something out of the ordinary.

There's a good article in our "Cooking In Cast Iron" forum posted by W.Hilditch titled "Steak Lover's Cooking" that answers most of your questions regarding heat concerns. It's better to refer you rather than repeat what he has posted plus there are some mouth-watering photo's.

Again...Good luck and happy cooking.
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:33 AM
JustinR JustinR is offline
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb_C View Post
Thanks for all of the replies so far. In terms of not ever using high heat for applications like searing - how does that work? Is it still possible to get a nice crust on meat very quickly over medium heat, without the inside getting warmed up? (This question is more theoretical than anything, since I'm not generally one who sears on the stove and then transfers to the oven, but I do think it's important to know.) Also, can I put a cold(ish) or room temp steak into a searing hot (or... medium hot...) pan without issue?

I like the idea of beginning with a starter pan. Are the BSRs as thin as the early Wagners and Griswolds or are they more akin to the thicker Lodge of today?
It would depend on your stove but generally, yes. Med heat is fine. Just give the iron time to heat up. A high setting on my stove is stupid hot as is most gas stoves. And yes, a cold steak in a hot pan is ok!
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Old 03-22-2016, 09:32 AM
Deb_C Deb_C is offline
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinR View Post
It would depend on your stove but generally, yes. Med heat is fine. Just give the iron time to heat up. A high setting on my stove is stupid hot as is most gas stoves. And yes, a cold steak in a hot pan is ok!
I'm only just now reading this post, but I ended up cooking a few pieces of salmon last night in my Wagner Ware, and after heating it up to medium, I actually found that I had to crank the heat down to low in order to cook the fish through without blackening it - and it had an amazing crust on the outside! This makes me more excited than I probably should be.

MDFraley, I'll go take a look at the 'steak lovers' post. Thanks!
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Old 03-22-2016, 11:43 AM
JustinR JustinR is offline
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb_C View Post
I'm only just now reading this post, but I ended up cooking a few pieces of salmon last night in my Wagner Ware, and after heating it up to medium, I actually found that I had to crank the heat down to low in order to cook the fish through without blackening it - and it had an amazing crust on the outside! This makes me more excited than I probably should be.

MDFraley, I'll go take a look at the 'steak lovers' post. Thanks!
Thats usually my route also. If you give the iron the proper time to heat you will be surprised at how little is needed.
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  #10  
Old 03-22-2016, 02:15 PM
Mark H Mark H is offline
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Location: Charleston SC
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Default Re: New member, new purchases: q's about cooking in old Wagner

Deb C,

Cast iron takes longer to heat and will hold the heat better than any other type of pan including many expensive brands of modern wear. Thus it takes more time to cool down if you overheat for what you cook. You might have seen a video clip or two of some chef heating cast iron hot hot hot than throw a piece of protein in and the smoke is dramatic. When you do this you end up burning the spices you use. Most of the time the protein becomes favored by harshness.

You nailed the salmon. Med low to med. will do that fish right.

Congrats on the nursing career! My daughter is a nurse in Atlanta and loves it.
Makes great money as well.

Best of luck and fortune going forward.
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