A New Kitchen Toy

Once you get into historical cooking, you start becoming an equipment collector. The techniques and tools of the past are fascinating, even if we can’t fully replicate them. I am an avid flea market shopper anyway, so this part comes easily to me.

Four weeks ago, I planned to go to the archeological museum in Munich with a friend who lives in Bamberg. In the end, her health did not allow the long trip and extensive walking that day, so we went to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum and a flea market in Nuremberg instead. At that flea market, I stumbled across what the owner described as an antique flowerpot and bought it for a lucky 13 Euros.

It turned out to be a three-legged cast-iron cooking pot, much like the grapen I wrote about a little earlier. At 14cm tall and 16cm wide, it is not very large and holds a little over a litre comfortably, but it weighs in at a hefty 1.6kg. Its stint in someone’s garden had not been healthy for it, but the underlying material was sound. I set about rehabilitating it.

The first step was cleaning it. A soak in hot soap water did the trick and it wasn’t even very dirty. Next, the rust needed removing. Fortunately, it was all superficial, a thin layer of reddish brown with no flaking or pitting. I set the pot in a bucket and covered with with hot water and acetic acid. The rust came off easily with a light touch of the wire brush and I was very grateful for the second-hand Dremel set I’d purchased recently. If you want to recover old kitchen equipment, you really want power tools. I used to do this by hand and it is a very frustrating experience.

De-rusted and soaking

After the dirt and the rust had come off, a surprise was waiting at the bottom of the pot. I had feared it would be rust-pitted, but instead it was covered in a thick, smooth layer of limescale. How this could have happened is beyond me, but it was lucky because it protected the metal underneath. However, removing this proved a test of patience. I tried to dissolve it with acetic acid, but it proved quite resistant. A wire brush mounted on my electric drill produced white powder, but abraded it so slowly that I would have taken days of work to get it off. in the end, I chose the oldfashioned approach and picked up a hammer.

Quite a bit of the limescale has already been taken off

It was slightly worrying, trying to strike hard enough to shatter the limescale, but not hard enough to damage the metal, and I started out far too timidly. To get at the inside curve, I had to use a 15-cm steel nail that I placed against the side and struck with my hammer. After two weekends of work, I was able to put the cleaned pot into another de-rusting bath, scrub it with steel wool, and begin the seasoning.

Ready to go

Yesterday, I burned in the last coat of canola oil and tested the surface. Water droplets formed and ran off easily, and even a thorough scrubbing did not produce and dirt or rust. It is now ready to join my kitchen gear and I hope to use it for making sauces or small portions of meat and stew.

This entry was posted in Uncategorised. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

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