I got the idea in my mind that I wanted some really nice cast iron cookware. After doing some research, I found that a company named Griswold was the manufacturer of some of the best cast iron cookware ever made. Back in the early 20th century, there were two ways that cast iron cookware was made. The lower quality stuff was just poured into a mold and sold. This method left little, almost indiscernible peaks and valleys, a rough surface. These pans are fine for cornbread, but terrible for more delicate things like eggs. By the way, this is how all modern cast iron cookware is produced (see Lodge)
The finer stuff like Griswold and Wagner was poured into a mold as well, but then was machine milled to produce an extremely smooth cooking surface. These pans are still available today for a pretty hefty price. For a pan in decent condition, on eBay, you can expect to pay anywhere from $45-$500. I just can’t bring myself to pay that kind of money, so I came up with another option. I put an ad on Craigslist and got a reply within 24 hours. The guy said he had several pans left to him by his Granny. I went over to take a look and found a bunch of rusty junk! It was in rough shape, but it was all Griswold and the price was right. I took six pans and one Dutch Oven.
Later that night, I went to Target and got white vinegar, steel wool and some rubber gloves. I soaked the pans in equal parts vinegar and water for one hour. Then I went to scrubbing. Once all the pieces were clean, I buried them well and began seasoning. I use coconut oil, but use whatever you are comfortable with. I rubbed each down with oil, then wiped as much of the oil off as possible with paper towels. 2 hours in a 425 degree oven, cool in the oven and repeat 3x. By midnight, I had soaked, scrubbed, scoured, splashed, scorched, and seasoned six BEAUTIFUL pans. Last night, I made cornbread in my 100-year old Griswold skillet. What a great experience! I got to take pride in a project while acquiring some valuable pieces with historical significance. WIN-WIN! Do you have any old cast iron? Try my method, and you might just find some treasure!