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  #1  
Old 02-16-2018, 05:02 AM
SidPost SidPost is offline
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Default Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

I know this might be blasphemy for forum about old vintage cast iron pans but, with so many people commenting about the high cost and obscurity of the lightweight cast iron with a smooth surface, I wonder why more people don't consider classic steel pans such as De Buyer and Mafter?

I really like the idea of using a cast iron skillet made before my grandparents were born and the nostalgia of using something historic but, in practical terms for most people a simple steel pan from France or Belgium would work as they desire and in my experience, are easy to acquire at modest price points (~10" De Buyer or Mafter skillet for ~$25~$30 brand new and less gently used).

For a work friend that claims the old skillets "taste" better, this really doesn't apply. However, a lot of people simply want to get away from 'teflon' and its relatives and have a smooth well seasoned skillet. A ~$100 ebay skillet that may or may not be serviceable versus ~$30 for a brand new 'steel/elemental iron' skillet seems like an obvious choice. This also solves the "it's too heavy" argument!

Am I missing something? Or is it really mainly about the nostalgia and historic appeal that cause people (not collectors) to spend ridiculous amounts on vintage cast iron when a simple De Buyer skillet would be just as good for them?
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  #2  
Old 02-16-2018, 11:22 AM
Dan B Dan B is offline
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Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

Hi SidPost, a perspective from my end...

A large amount of the appeal of collecting old CI for folks in this community is the thrill of the hunt... finding pieces to collect and/or use "in the wild" for very low cost and then restoring them to their former glory. A very rewarding experience on its own. On that basis you can get great "users" that are less costly than a new De Buyer (say).

Cheers,

Dan B
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  #3  
Old 02-16-2018, 02:00 PM
EricC EricC is offline
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Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

I have a full set of stainless steel cookware to compliment my cast iron collection. Instead of going vintage SS I got modern cuisinart multiclad pro, which has three layers not just on the bottom but up the sides, the entire piece - cooking surface of 304 grade aka 18/10 SS, middle layer of aluminum for better heat conductivity, and outer layer of 430 grade aka 18/0 SS for induction stove compatibility. They're oven rated up to 550F.

I prefer the SS saucepans and stockpots over my CI saucepans. My CI DO doesn't really have a proper SS equivalent, so no conflict there. What it comes down to is when I need a skillet, do I grab CI or SS?

The answer is I grab CI unless I'm cooking something that could damage the seasoning. As far as skillets go, the SS is really only my 2nd string (sports analogy)...

Why CI over SS?

- Seasoned CI has non-stick properties, SS does not.
- CI has better volumetric heat capacity, as in once it gets hot it stays hot, less sensitive to temperature changes from adding food, etc.
- CI has much better emissivity, as in it radiates heat better. SS has very low emissivity, you're really mostly cooking through direct contact / conduction, while with CI you're cooking with both conduction and radiation of heat.
- CI is easier to clean.

So these advantages should attract one to CI over SS, and then it comes down to modern vs. vintage CI, vintage having the functional advantages of smoother cooking surfaces and lighter weight.

EDIT - re-reading the OP, I see you are comparing to steel instead of stainless steel. My experience with high carbon steel cookware is my wok. Since you do season carbon steel similar to CI, the non-stick properties and ease of cleaning advantages are negated. But the heat capacity and emissivity advantages remain. Still, yes high carbon steel cookware works well and there's no need to shun it over CI, just get both...
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Old 02-16-2018, 08:29 PM
SidPost SidPost is offline
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Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan B View Post
A large amount of the appeal of collecting old CI for folks in this community is the thrill of the hunt...
I can see the thrill of the hunt. However, sky-high prices as seen on eBay isn't a 'thrill' for someone like myself. A $5 dollar skillet at a flea market or estate sale sure but, not a $50~250 skillet at auction or eBay with a $20 shipping fee.

[SIZE=1]---------- Post added at 07:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:21 PM ----------[/SIZE]

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricC View Post
Why CI over SS?

- Seasoned CI has non-stick properties, SS does not.
- CI has better volumetric heat capacity, as in once it gets hot it stays hot, less sensitive to temperature changes from adding food, etc.
- CI has much better emissivity, as in it radiates heat better. SS has very low emissivity, you're really mostly cooking through direct contact / conduction, while with CI you're cooking with both conduction and radiation of heat.
- CI is easier to clean.
Exactly why I started using cast iron in my first apartment during college - thermal capacity! Putting the skillet on the stove a 1/2 hour early or in the oven was important with the anemic appliances I had access to.

Do you want to sear your steak or 'steam' it? Cough, sputter, etc. or preheat?

Preheating was a lifesaver for me during college and my early post-college years. A 12K BTU natural gas burner in my first house was a big draw for me. I finally had a cooktop and oven that heated evenly and put out enough heat to actually cook food as opposed to steaming it.

My friends never really understood my love for 'old school' cast iron nor how I could get a nice sear on a steak when they couldn't do the same on their stove with a Teflon skillet.
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  #5  
Old 02-17-2018, 01:57 AM
SMorris SMorris is offline
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Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

I like the thrill of the hunt and restoring a piece to it's prior glory. I do buy expensive pieces, but I save on them by buying pieces that are not restored yet and may have fallen through the cracks on ebay (get lucky and no one bids on a dirty piece). Some think I'm crazy for what I have spent on some of my pieces, but the way I look at it is one day I won't be walking on this Earth. If my kids have no desire in keeping my favorite pieces, they can sell them and make some money. In the meantime, I can enjoy cooking in a dish that I searched and hunted for. A dish that I really wanted.
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  #6  
Old 02-17-2018, 01:28 PM
Christian James Christian James is offline
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Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

I prefer my cast iron pans, but I also have a wok and crepe pan made from carbon steel. They both work well for their uses. The carbon steel shines when making foods where you don't necessarily want your utensil to retain a lot of heat.

I really dislike the thin handles on carbon steel pans though.
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  #7  
Old 03-31-2019, 08:05 AM
Ric M Ric M is offline
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Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

I love my Blanc Creative carbon steel with a beautiful handle. Real workhorse.
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  #8  
Old 04-01-2019, 08:01 AM
MDFraley MDFraley is offline
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Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

The "Old" vs "New" both have valid points of discussion. Since this is an information site most discussions are based on "collecting" and deals we find while on a hunt for elusive pieces. Never been a big friend of eBay listings as the prices there fluctuate way out of proportion regardless of what one is looking for.
I will say this...When it comes to Gem Pans, Dutch Ovens, Waffle Irons and specialty pieces made of Cast Iron, steel pieces do not have a leg to stand on.
It is as you say "thrill of the hunt" that makes it worth while for most all of us and from a collector/user point of view there are other sites besides eBay that vintage CI can be obtained without having to pay an arm and leg for.
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  #9  
Old 04-01-2019, 03:43 PM
Jeffrey R. Jeffrey R. is offline
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Location: NEK, Vermont
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Default Re: Old Cast Iron Vs New Steel Pans?

A good chief has a lot of tools in his / her kitchen. Cast iron being one as is some type of steel pan. As for myself the earlier and thinner the better as my go to skillet. I have a full collection of Griswold that have not been used in 2 years, but I see them everyday.

In our kitchen almost everything is wood, cast iron and yes we have some Stainless steel saucepans, stockpots and skillets no carbon steel, aluminum or Teflon . Everything has its part in cooking food on our home. Sometimes the iron does not see use for a few days, but never forgotten. It has in a large way how we prepare our food, frying does not play a large part in our kitchen. I used to always grill my steak but have taken to a sear on my wagyu beef steaks and finished with organic whole butter. That just would not fly with SS. Doing the grill at 15 below gets old, but spring is coming someday, I hope. Ever have buffalo in a CI skillet?

Wagyu strip 2" thick in my #11 early fancy thin walled skillet.
https://share.icloud.com/photos/0Vhm...uS3RP6PE_rqh8g
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