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Cast iron pot the 24 hr stew- how?

 
gardener
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So, unlike our "normal" friends, we chose to not get a crock pot and plastic inserts, instead we chose to get a big, ole cast iron pot and put it on a burner.

Cooking is a weak link for me. I have certain things that work, but when I venture outside, well, it is an adventure.

So far I've had horrible luck trying to make a 24hr dish in this thing... and perhaps cook anything except fried onions in it.

I have managed to rust the lid and make everything so unpalatable the dog snubs her nose at it. Ok, she is a picky eater, but still!

Any concepts of what I'm messing up at? I just want to be able to set the thing to a low cooking temp and have something delicious the next day. I know people manage it in crockpots, but perhaps I'm asking too much for my "Dutch oven"?

Thanks!
 
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I think the easiest way to cook with that pot will be to make your stew as normal, then when it's boiling put the pot into a larger box that is well packed with straw or hay (or any other insulation you may have to hand) put the lid on cover that with insulation and close the box, then leave it for 10-12 hours take out, bring back to the boil and it will be done.
As to the rust, when you have washed the pot apply a thin layer of oil or fat to all surfaces to stop that.
 
Amit Enventres
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I tried the oiling of the lid and I tried toasting the lid with oils to solidify it. Still rusts.

I also tried cooking a stew and then turning the temp to "warm". This is okay for flavor, but still tastes like metal and the lid still rusts and sometimes it's so bad that the stew is totally unpalatable.

We have cast iron frying pans and I can wield them with confidence. We are careful to fry, not boil in them. I'm thinking that's got to be the problem: we need an enamel lined pot or stainless steel for stew and the pure cast iron Dutch oven...?
 
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I tried the oiling of the lid and I tried toasting the lid with oils to solidify it. Still rusts.

I also tried cooking a stew and then turning the temp to "warm". This is okay for flavor, but still tastes like metal and the lid still rusts and sometimes it's so bad that the stew is totally unpalatable.



same here...I quit using the lids that came with the cast iron except when I'm cooking on an outdoor fire and want to use the dutch oven lid to hold coals.  I guess its that constant steam that works it's way through any seasoning...maybe someone here has found a way around that.

My solution is to use stainless lids from other pots and pans...no problem anymore and I cook mostly in iron.  I make skillet breads on top of the stove, first side with a lid then flip and second side open pan and don't use the oven at all.

I always loved an iron pot of something slow cooking on the wood stove and even then I used stainless or glass/ceramic lids....a gas stove is just not the same but will work better with (what I've always called) a flame spreader.  I lost mine in our move and am trying to find one again but when I do a search nothing appropriate comes up.  It's a flat double layered metal circle with small holes...it really helps to moderate and spread the flame out evenly on a gas stove.

I just happened to think you might be talking about an electric burner and I have no experience there
 
Judith Browning
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I found 'heat diffusers' here http://fabulouskitchenstuff.com/fabulous-heat-diffusers-for-a-gas-stove/  not what I've had before though so will keep looking.   The iron one might make cooking similar to a wood stove maybe?
 
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Hm... I am not really an expert on cast iron cookware, but our cast iron pan has a no-water policy.
And even then the food has to be removed from it directly after cooking.
So I can't really imagine a 24h stew that would not taste like iron.
 
Judith Browning
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Sebastian Köln wrote:Hm... I am not really an expert on cast iron cookware, but our cast iron pan has a no-water policy.
And even then the food has to be removed from it directly after cooking.
So I can't really imagine a 24h stew that would not taste like iron.



I've cooked everything from tomato sauce to broth in well seasoned iron pots and pans and the only time a metallic taste is a problem is when using the iron lid.  I think the constant steam and drip wears away any seasoning but in the pot itself it's just not a problem.  I probably just don't keep the lid as seasoned either.  Most cooking is going to have some water in the form of steam once the lids on so it's hard to avoid.
 
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In my experience (which includes 60+ years of cast iron cooking and visiting many friends who have done the same) cast iron pots, pans, griddles, dutch ovens can be successfully used to cook, bake, boil, use as "serving dishes" and such. If properly seasoned, they never rust. So, ...either you are doing something wrong, or (and this is totally outside my experience and I think extremely unlikely) you have a one in several million defective lid.

Some people I know believe you should never clean out cast. They simply wipe away any loose or oily accumulation each use. I've seen their pans get thick with "burnt" on food. They never scrap them clean. They never touch the pan with soap. They have said the "build up" adds flavor to their cooking (and soap would ruin that). It seems to work for them. For me, I never let anything build up. I use very limited soap, and keep the metal spotless. Both ways work with no apparent problem.

The "build up" people never seem to have to keep their pans seasoned, the pans permanently are. I do every once in awhile. I wash the pan really well (mostly with just water and a non-soap filled scrubber). Then I apply a thin coating of cooking or olive oil. I put the pans or whatever in the oven for several hours under low heat. If any oil is left after heating (usually not) I wipe it out and hang the pots up till next use. There's simply no problem.

So, either you are seasoning incorrectly, or throw away the lid that is by some weird mischance defective, and get a different one. Using cast iron for food preparation is far more healthy for you than just about any other type of pan/pot I can think of.

P.S. NEVER use aluminum. Using aluminum anything for any use is pretty much a wish for poor health. I wouldn't use it to carry water, boil water, cook anything, or use it to feed/water animals. Bad, toxic metal. Recycle it at the scrap yard. Aluminum became popular after WW2. When the war was over there were many factories that had been producing armaments for the war, that suddenly had no use for their production. Some of them simply switched to making pots and pans of the now very cheap metal. It was called a miracle of American life. Everyone could suddenly afford an inexpensive set of pots and pans and coffee makers. ....Unfortunately, it was a "miracle" that has not gone so well. There is some thought that aluminum use may now be one of the causes of the current Alzheimer's epidemic. Tiny particles of the metal come off into the food during use. It's toxic. Bad metal, bad (for cooking).

 
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If I had to guess, I would say your toasting process isn't getting hot enough, or there haven't been enough seasoning layers built up.  If your lid fits ok (safety first...) upside down on your burner, I think I would do it the easy way: make breakfast bacon for a week or two in the lid.

Re: water on cast iron - most of the food that comes in contact with your pans has a huge amount of water in it. The sizzle when you fry food is actually the water boiling!  Unless you're leaving them to soak, I wouldn't worry about water in your cast iron (again, assuming the seasoning layer has been well-built).

seasoning science:
http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/02/16/heavy-metal-the-science-of-cast-iron-cooking/index.html
 
master steward
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I have found that if cast iron is not well aged, like having used it as a frying pan for years, then the coating is susceptible to wet liquids.  The liquid softens the oil coating.  Maybe you need to season it several more times.  

This topic might help:

https://permies.com/t/5592/kitchen/Seasoning-cast-iron-potato-peels

Why are you wanting to cook it for 24 hours?  I tried to search for a recipe for "24 hr Stew" but found none.

Are you trying to make bone broth?
 
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I definitely wouldn't try to make a 24 hour soup in cast iron cookware. That's a task better handled by stainless steel.

Tomato juice, or anything acidic will pretty much strip the seasoning off down to bare metal in a few hours.
 
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In general, I agree with Joseph — I don't cook any slow-cooked items in my cast iron. Cast iron excels at high temperatures. But I do often make stock or beans overnight in the fire (still, that's closer to 8 hours). Does your dutch oven have the dripping knobs on the bottom of the lid that condense water and force it to drip down? Are you putting plenty of oil in the dish?

It might also help to know what kind of things you're trying to cook for 24 hours. Something oily like carnitas would do much better than something acidic like chili.
 
Amit Enventres
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Thank you for your feed back!

The 24hr dish is a traditional dish called cholent and was some how done in the older days (I assume therefore in cast iron) so it must be do able now, right?

I think I did manage to ruin the seasoning and so I'm going to try to get that all up-and-running again as a barrier to the metal flavor. That should solve part of the problem.

I found this video on YouTube which seems to make a lot of sense. It seems I'll have to try making sure everything is seasoned and hot before using too.

https://youtu.be/3qVi_5Gwwo0


Good to know acids will strip it. So many recipes lean acid, so it probably takes a special recipe to sit a long while without negative affects. Maybe I'll need to stick to the basics- starch, herbs, salt, meat. I wonder if a baking soda pie crust would make the oven happy.... Like a pot pie to keep the acid at bay.

The lid does have the drip spikes, but yeah... didn't help with my lack of experience in doing this dish. Lost knowledge, in my opinion.

As for the electric burner, if I could gas oven it and then insulate it in a way that would keep it food safe without refrigeration for the same amount of time, I'd do that. The electric burner is just safer for the long time than our gas burners, so that's why I used it, but I'm not tied to it.

Thanks!
 
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Most of the older cookbooks I own call for an earthenware pot for slow cooking. Maybe that is an alternative for you, if you want to do it the traditional way?
BF7B3F46-440C-455D-B04E-215215515770.jpeg
[Thumbnail for BF7B3F46-440C-455D-B04E-215215515770.jpeg]
This is mine, I use it mainly in the oven for slow cooking
 
pollinator
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Haybox cooking has been mentioned above, but it is worth another mention when talking about 24 hour dishes. You bring it to the boil then take it off the heat and put it in the haybox to maintain temperature. You can pop it back on the hob periodically if you want to bring it back up to temperature, but should stay hot for hours. Big fuel savings and you can inadvertently burn the food.

We have cast iron and enamel - Like you say, I use the enamel for slow cooking and liquids.
 
Anne Miller
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Philipp Mueller wrote:Most of the older cookbooks I own call for an earthenware pot for slow cooking. Maybe that is an alternative for you, if you want to do it the traditional way?



The homemaker's book that I have that was written about 1830, talks about iron, earthenware, and brass.

Here is what I found:

"Pots and cauldrons were originally made from brass because iron could not be worked until furnaces creating heat enough to melt it were invented  ...

In the late 1800s enameled cast iron cookware became popular and is still commonly used for Dutch ovens."

The History of Cast Iron

"Some people say that they can taste the admixture of some flavor from the iron when eating foods prepared in cast iron cookware, especially when cooking foods high in acids."
 
Amit Enventres
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Thank you! It seems earthenware is the answer for the long term cook, or at least enamelled pot-ware and a hay box to really get traditional. The Dutch oven I will have to use for shorter cooking ranges. It makes sense when I think about it: water holds temps for long periods, versus an oil-based dish, and cast iron sitting in hot water over night is a bad idea. Of course, I didn't get my brain there on my own. You've taught me a lot! Thank you!
 
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Here is a info packed thread on Haybox Cooking. So many options as to how to put a "haybox" together, even without hay!

https://permies.com/t/8127/kitchen/Haybox-Cooking-Thermal-Cooker-Box
 
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