Cast Iron Skillet ID
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Commercial (that is to say, factory-made) was produced by numerous foundries, most of whom did not put on a makers mark. The "5" on yours could have been a maker's code, but doesn't refer to much else. One of my 8" skillets, for instance, says "made in U.S.A" and has an "02" code. No other markings.
So, first off, I wouldn't worry about who made it. It obviously did the job for your Mom, so is worth keeping and using.
Question: Does it really have to be reseasoned? Providing there is nothing burned-on or crusted on, why would you want to remove the cure your Mom spent years building?
All I would do, initially, is run straight hot water and use a scrub brush. That will remove any dust etc. that's built up through the years, and any loose or scaly debris. Then examine the piece. If the black finish is smooth, and there's no obvious rust, then dry the skillet, wipe on a thin coating of shortning, and you're ready to use it.
After each use, clean it the same way. That is, hot water only (never, ever, use soap on cast iron!!!), a brush if needed, dry it, and reapply a thin layer of shortening.
If the piece actually needs recuring, that's something else. Let us know, and I'll direct you to some sites that explain how to do that in detail.
at times depending where and when it was made. If it is truly a
well seasoned pan then you shouldn't have to worry to much about
using soap. I use soap on my old ones when I cook fish. I would
suggest putting it back on the stove after washing it. It will open the
pores and dry it out, reducing the rust. If you use the pan only once in
a while, then don't rub down with grease or oil. It will get sticky and
rancid. If you use on a weekly basis, pull it off the heat when its dry and
rub inside of pan with a little veg oil and salt. To clean an old pan, just
superheat it(real hot) and rub down with oil and a lot of salt. If its crusty
looking and rough around the sides of the pan, just leave it, once you start
to try and get that it will likely mess up the seasoned part of the pan. I
have pans from a year old to 70 or 80 years old. Some are better than
Teflon or non stick. Cast iron is king for me. I don't however use it for
soups, stews and sauces. My wife thinks it imparts an irony taste.
My biggest pan is about 3 ft wide, can you say fried chicken. My smallest
pan it 5 or 6 inches, great for fried eggs. Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That will walk you through the steps needed to strip your skillet down to bare metal (which, incidentally, is what those gray spots are) and recure it properly.
It's one of the best articles on the subject, if I say so myself. Of course, I wrote it, so maybe there's just a wee bit of bias involved. :)
Place in a 250 deg oven for 20 or so minutes to dry thoroughly.
Rub the thinnest possible layer of Crisco onto every surface, inside and out. Place upside down in your oven and bake at 425 or so for 1 to 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and allow to cool slowly.
Repeat the above paragraph's procedure two more times.
You will have a nicely seasoned hard, black surface that will be virtually non-stick.
To keep it that way after use, wash in hot water (NO SOAP) and use a sponge, brush or plastic "scrubbie" (NO METAL SCOURING PADS) to release anything stuck on. (If there's something horribly stuck on, put in an inch or two of water, cover and boil for a couple of minutes. That'll loosen it.)
Rinse in hot water and dry immediately.
Heat and rub in some oil or shortening and put on the burner until the oil begins to smoke. (That will sanitize and will help add to the seasoning.)
Properly cared for cast iron lasts many, many lifetimes and just keeps getting better, both in physical reality and in the metaphysical world. After all, your mother's good cooking karma will shine through to your grandkids some day!
I did most of what y'all suggested. I got all the rust spots off with some steel wool and then dried it on the stove. While it was still warm I lightly coated it with Crisco shortening. I then placed it (as well as a Wagner cast iron griddle/grill I found at a yard sale [$2.00]) in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours. The skillet came out nice and shiny! I used it tonight to make fried potatoes. They turned out great. I scrubbed out the skillet and recoated it. It's back in service!
The griddle/grill needs some work.
Most, if not all, of those stories are apocraphal, Jackie. I don't know of one documented case.
The only way to crack or break a piece of cast iron cookware is through thermal shock. For instance, heating it read hot, then plunging into cold water.
Used to be a recommendation that to clean a piece you heat it up and then pour cold water into it, so the steam would lift any crud. That certainly did the job---the times that it didn't crack or warp the piece. And the recommendation usually came from folks who weren't truly familiar with cast iron, because you have to really try hard to get anything to burn onto badly enough to need that sort of treatment.
okay, you go first! put an irreplaceable Erie in your stove!
i am taking the words of both panman and the black iron dude blog that this is not safe to do.