I have been thinking of purchasing some cast iron skillets and Dutch oven. I got a book on Dutch oven cooking from a book sale, but have yet to buy the Dutch oven. Any tips for buying new or picking up used?
Marmolade, you might find free stuff at Freecycle.org. It’s a series of yahoo groups intended to let people give away stuff FREE! There’s likely a group near you.
You can check craigslist too.
Other than that, you might find pieces at the thrift shops, but many folks are jealous of their old cast iron (the older the better).
So you may end up buying your own new. It’s not expensive. Lodge makes a good line. You can often find pieces at hardware stores. For example, Fresno Ag carries many unusual pieces from Lodge. They have cactus shaped cornbread pans, LOL.
Check this out:
If you go to that link you should allow yourself a few hours... Reading Jackie Clay's articles are addicting - just like the rest of Backwoods Home Magazine.
The easiest way is to build a nice campfire out in the backyard. And when the flames go down a bit and the logs turn to red coals, place a pan or two right in the middle. Let it cook. That yucky burned on grease and gook will bubble, burn and stink. And when the fire goes out they will cool. When you take them in, you'll see that they are now nice and smooth. No more chunky gook. Now wash them well with hot water and detergent to remove any soot, charcoal and debris.
When the pans are clean and dry, wipe them well with olive oil, on the inside, and place them in a very slow oven 250 degrees or less. You don't want them to smoke, only heat well so the oil will be absorbed. I often leave them on the oven rack of my wood kitchen range all evening, with the oven door open.
Then take them out and wipe them off with a paper towel and let them stand a day or two before use. The first use or two, make a "simple" use, say frying hamburgers or making stew. To clean after this use, skip the detergent and wash with only very hot water. You can even boil them a bit to remove stubborn food. Do not let food dry on your newly seasoned pans!
That's all there is to it. If you should get or have pans that have rusted, fire them as above, then use a very fine grit sandpaper to remove any clinging rust. Then wash and season. Just like new. Better than most new, today, as the modern cast iron has a coarse finish and is not as nice as the older iron.
Here is a link to Lodge cast iron dutch ovens.