Cast Iron Griddle Restoration How-To {or is it?!}

 

IMG_9260

 

Hello Farmgirl Friends!!!

 

I have been working on a whole different project for me.  And here’s the back story.  A few years ago I was driving home from town and there on the side of the road was a pop up junk stand and as I drove by I realized it was all cast iron skillets for sale.  I turned around and went back for a look just in case there was treasure to be found!  I dug around and saw nothing that struck my fancy… everything was newish Lodge skillets and few older skillets that didn’t look like what I always had my eye open for.  But… wait!  Here was the rustiest, grimiest, mess of a round griddle (I’d been wanting one!) and I flipped it over to see if there were any markings on the back… and oh my word!  It was a Griswold!!!

I don’t know much about cast iron skillets but I do know that Griswold is a brand to buy if you can get it cheap.  Griswold Cast Iron was founded in 1887 in Erie, PA and they manufactured skillets until the early 1940’s.  I also have heard that if the word “Erie” was on the bottom of the skillet that means it was manufactured sometime before the 1900’s.  And scraping some grime off with my fingernail I saw the word Erie!!!  (You have to look close but you will see Erie, PA below the Griswold stamp.)

 

IMG_9063

 

So I kept looking at this griddle and other than absolute rust and grime, it looked to be in excellent condition.  No chips or cracks that I could find.  I asked the man how much and when he told me $20 I didn’t hesitate.  He kept saying “this thing is so rusty, I think we can find a griddle in better condition than this”!  No way was I going to tell him what a valuable piece of cast iron I had in my hands.   I got home, and shoved this terribly ugly, rusty mess under the sink in my outdoor kitchen and walked away.

 

IMG_9061

 

Fast forward a few years and my brother (who has a deep love for old cast iron skillets) texted my Mom (who is with me for the winter) and said “Mom, if you get out to any antique stores keep your eyes open for an old Griswold skillet”.  I texted my brother then and told him… “Hey!  I have an old rusted Griswold somewhere” and I promptly went out to the porch and dug it out from under the sink.  It actually looked way worse than I remembered.  I sent my brother a picture and he was pretty impressed.  He said “you can restore that, you know”.  Which of course I did know… hence the reason I had brought the crazy thing home with me!

 

So here we are… a cold winter January week and I told Mom, “I’m going to restore this skillet”!  Mom said “just throw it in the fire and burn everything off”  but I was determined to do it the “right” way – the way I read about online.  So, I’m bringing you along for the restoration journey!

Day One, morning:

I gathered the recommended supplies.  White vinegar with 5% acidity, Brillo (or SOS) pads, a kitchen scrub pad, and some skillet seasoning.  (I’ll tell you more about that later).

 

IMG_9060

 

The video I watched said to put 50% vinegar and 50% water into a spray bottle and saturate the rusty skillet with the liquid.  Let it sit for 30 minutes and spray it again.  Do this several times, making sure to keep it saturated and the rust will just run off.  Well, I followed those instructions exactly and the rust did “sort of” begin to run off.  Sort of, being the key word here.

 

IMG_9066

 

Day One, afternoon:  

By now I had treated it with vinegar for hours and it was time to use my scrub pad and get that rust and grime off.  I scrubbed and scrubbed.  Then I used the Brillo pad and srubbed some more.  That combination of steel wool and soap got the final bit of rust off.  BUT…  big but here.  There was probably 100 years of grime about 3 inches wide all along the top edge of the griddle and it was absolutely not going anywhere.  I scrubbed until I was mad!  Smile!  I set it aside. (My 86 year old mother would periodically come look and say, “just throw that thing in the wood stove” to which I would ignore her.)

 

IMG_9071

 

Day Two, morning:

Woke up to a beautiful day of snow and a houseful of friends coming over for sledding and supper.  Mom said, “I bet Eldon is going to have a fire in the wood stove in his garage today, just put the griddle in the wood stove.”  I said nothing… just picked it up and put it out of sight.  (I’m very stubborn, if you’re not aware of that yet.)

 

Day Three, morning:

I pulled the griddle out and scrubbed some more.  This time making sure I did it when Mom was busy working on a sewing project.  I scrubbed and scrubbed.  I sprayed the vinegar water mix and scrubbed some more.  That grime was NOT coming off.  I put the griddle away again.

 

IMG_9072

 

Day Four, morning: 

I (quietly) say to my husband:  “If you have a fire in your wood stove in your shop would you put that griddle in there”? He just looked at me puzzled and acted like he didn’t hear me.  Mom was in the kitchen then so I didn’t say it very loud.  (Stubborn 61 year old redhead that I am.)

Day Five, afternoon:  

I stepped outside and saw smoke coming out of the chimney in my husbands shop.  I grabbed that griddle, put on my snow boots and coat and headed out to the shop.  I handed the griddle to Eldon and said “Get this thing in the fire and ignore it until tomorrow”!  He did… and I walked out.

 

IMG_9206

 

Day Six, morning:

Eldon brought the griddle from his shop and set it on counter outside on my porch.  He said “that thing will have to really be cleaned.  It’s a mess.”  I ignored it and never even looked at it.

Day six, afternoon: 

Our grand-girls came up to hang out with us and I went out on the porch to greet them and saw the griddle.  I picked it up… looked it over in total shock.  I’m telling you friends; THE GRIME WAS GONE!!!  I took it in the house, did a 1 minute scrub with a Brillo pad and that thing was smooth as silk.  And, yes you guessed it.  Mom came in and looked at it and said “you finally put it in the fire” and she walked back out before I had to admit that yes… six days later I listened to her!

 

 

IMG_9212

 

Day Six, late afternoon: 

I washed the griddle and dried it thoroughly and looked it over closely.  I ran my hands all over the top and bottom feeling for any rust or grime.  It looked a little discolored but it was silky smooth.  I knew it was time to season it!

 

IMG_9216

 

Cast Iron Seasoning is basically oil baked onto the cast iron through a process called polymerization. It gives it that classic black patina. Seasoning forms a natural, easy-release cooking surface and helps prevent the pan from rusting.  

I have always used shortening for this process but I had purchased this product called Easy Beezy.  It is a blend of cold pressed grapeseed oil, avocado oil, and 100% organic beeswax. It is formed into this tube for easy application.  In my reading about this product I was really impressed and I was excited to try it.

 

IMG_9219

 

Day Six, early evening:

I followed the instructions and oiled my griddle, carefully rubbing it in with a soft cloth.  And popped it into a 500 degree oven for 45 minutes.  When I pulled it out of the oven, it was gorgeous!!!  I applied the Easy Beezy one more time and put it back in the oven for 30 more minutes.  When I removed it from the oven I let it sit until it cooled to room temperature and then I lovingly ran my fingers all over my absolutely gorgeous, 100 year old perfectly restored griddle.

 

IMG_9242

 

Day Seven, morning:

This morning my griddle passed the ultimate test… an absolute perfect fried egg, my friends!!!

 

IMG_9248

 

Day Seven, afternoon:

I decided to pull out one of my favorite cookbooks (PLEASE tell me you have this cookbook?), MaryJane’s Cast Iron Kitchen.   Even if you don’t do much cooking, you’ll salivate at all the beautiful cast iron in this cookbook (and at the food pictures!).

 

IMG_9250

 

I turned to my favorite recipe that I’ve made before but never in a round griddle!  So, of course I had to make it again!  Cinnamon Sugar Knots, (page 178) and made with buttermilk and cooked in the oven on a beautiful cast iron griddle!

 

IMG_9259

 

Okay friends, I swear these tasted better cooked on the griddle than in a skillet like I have in the past.  The reason is because the outer edges of the knots have more of a buttery, sugary crunch when they are baked like this!  And I’m so excited… I’m going to make more tomorrow because I shared four of them with my daughter and her family and the other four are already gone!

 

IMG_9261

 

So, the story of the cast iron griddle restoration has come to a beautiful finish.  (I’m going on the hunt for more!)

 

Moral of the story:  listen to your elderly mother that has rescued many a cast iron skillet by throwing them in the fire!  And she’s so sweet she didn’t even rub it in how stubborn I am! However, I did admit that I should’ve listened to her!

I am going to treasure this griddle – not for the monetary value, but just maybe I’ll be continually reminded that being processed through the fire is the best thing for removing all kinds of crud and grime.  (There’s a much deeper lesson in there somewhere, my friends. Maybe we should have a conversation about that in the future!)

 

Griswold Cast Iron Handle Griddle.  Made in Erie, Pennsylvania likely sometime between 1887 and 1900.

 

IMG_9244

 

I’d love to hear your favorite cast iron story!  Please share in the comments!

 

Until our gravel roads cross again… so long.

Dori  

  1. Cheryl says:

    I cook with iron skillets every time I cook love every one.
    I have some treasures at antique shops . I have a Griswold from Erie. Some of them were passed down from my mom!!
    They make the best cornbread also!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Cheryl!

      YES!!! I agree on the cornbread! My mom’s skillets are Griswold and also Wagner and I think her cornbread tastes the best because of her skillets!!

      ~ Dori ~

  2. Laurel says:

    Great read Dori!! I have an old cast iron that was mom’s that needs this….ask mom if putting it in the oven would work….wonder if hubby would let me put it in the pellet stove! gotta try this….will let you know if it’s a Griswold…thanks again, Laurel

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Laurel,

      Mom said the oven won’t get hot enough for enough hours. My husband said his wood stove in his stop was incredibly hot for about 6-8 hours. And then it stayed in all night as the fire burned off.

      Hope this answered your question!

      ~ Dori ~

  3. Laurel says:

    Great read Dori…I have an old cast iron from mom and wonder if putting it in the oven would work….can’t see the backside because of the built up crud. Or maybe into the pellet stove, hmmm. Will let ya know if it’s a Griswold. Have a great day, Laurel

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Laurel!

      I don’t think that a regular oven will get hot enough to burn off the build up. And I really don’t know much about a pellet stove either… But how about a bonfire? You could throw it in there! 🙂

      ~ Dori ~

  4. Rhonda Cavaliere says:

    I love your restoration story. I have tried to restore skillet or two. It is a process for sure. Love cooking in my cast iron. I’m always on the lookout for the bigger size pans. They are getting harder to find at a reasonable price. Great job on yours.

  5. Lynette says:

    I love your story. I never knew you can put it the fire. I learned something new today. Thank you.

  6. Mary - Windy Meadows Farm says:

    I love that you rescued the skillet! A great how-to for one I found in the barn – it definitely needs a little TLC. I have a beautiful cast iron skillet I inherited from my mother-in-law, the only thing is it’s way bigger than my stove burners – so into the oven it goes for cornbread!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *