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Cooking on cast iron stoves

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by JBS, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. JBS

    JBS New Member

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    All, Long time lurker, first time posting....

    I've had a Lopi Leyden stove for 3 years (my first stove) and absolutely love it. I'd like to thank this site because it was were I did the majority of my research before purchase. To the question....I can not cook on my stove top; by that I mean I can’t boil water no matter how long it sits. When I was a kid we had one of the old Buck step topped steel stoves. My dad would start a pot of beans on the bottom and once it got simmering he would stick them on the top and when we got home that night, dinner was ready.

    I run my stove at 400-525 degrees measured with a magnetic thermometer on the stovetop and can set water on there for an hour and a half and it only measures 200 degrees....great for moisture in the air but not for beans. The trivets I bought don't get much use in my house.

    I'm finally breaking down to ask the question because we're building a new house next year. I really love how cast iron dissipates heat in to the room but if I can't cook a pot of beans (or eggs and bacon in an emergency) I may have to reconsider....

    What am I missing??

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  2. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    I also might be considering building, but more like the five year plan than next year, That said I am strongly considering building something like this in the design right from the start. Just food for thought.
    http://www.woodstoves.net/esse/woodcooker.htm
  3. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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  4. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    What are you missing? Nothing.

    Not to be snide, water boils at 212. Your stovetop could be 800 degrees and the water temperature will not get above 212 (at sea level). If you are cooking on top of the trivets or some other insulator, that is not gonna work.
  5. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Are you using trivets?
  6. JBS

    JBS New Member

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    All,
    Thanks for the replies...I had originally bought trivets thinking I would need them to perform different levels of cooking; boiling, simmering, etc...but even with the pans flat on the stove I can't boil water. Since I only have experience with the two stoves, I assumed that cast iron isn't as good for cooking on as steel. Is this correct? Maybe I'm thinking you can do more on a stove top than is possible. I know my dad cooked lots of one pot dinners on our stove (beans/stew) etc..it's not possible on the one I've got. Maybe I'm not doing something right, I'm open to any and all suggestions.

    Redlegs,
    Thanks for the link to the oven, I've never seen one of those.

    Madison,
    Glad you replied, I see you have a PE T6. This is the stove I was looking at putting in the house we're going to build. Would it be possible for you to put a pan on the steel top and cook say...a couple of hamburgers? Could you boil water on your stove? How do you like the stove overall?
  7. Redlegs

    Redlegs Feeling the Heat

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    No Prob. That site had a couple other ovens, but the one I linked had a window - a must for me. The thought of a full blown wood fired cook stove appealed to the "prepper" in me. :)
  8. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I think it would be hard to generate enough btu in an 8 inch circle on the top of a modern stove. The pot is also giving off heat to the room as well. If the stove is rated for 40,000 btu and you have approximately 24 sq ft of stove surface assuming a 2 ft cube with 6 sides so 1667 btu per sq ft. and an 8 inch pan is approximately .35 sq ft. That gives you a heat input of 582 btu in a hour.. Never going to heat much food with that.
  9. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    Yes to all. Only issue with cooking, is spills and over spray. If you don't mind the stains, smells and rust potential etc then no problem.

    Direct cooking for myself is limited to bake potatoes inside the stove (heavy duty foil and brush aside the coals), a couple attempts with a pizza stone - PITA and a mess. One whole chicken - again, a mess even double wrapped in foil. Stovetop mainly used for keeping large holiday meals warm, party appetizers, warming plates. When motivated, I will preboil water for pasta, melt butter/onions/garlic etc. Spaghetti sauces etc. Warm a can a beans etc. Haven't done burgers, but I know I could.

    The trivets swing out, but still limit area for multiple pans for direct cooking, but a 12-16" pot/pan would fit directly on the stovetop with the trivets swung out as designed.

    Generally happy with the t6 in our setup. Link to pics in signature - stove resides in a large kitchen/family room area - can get quite close to the stove and not get "radiation" burns, it heats 3300 sq ft OK, high winds with temps < ~25 F it can not keep up. But our house has ~6 leaky sliding glass doors, and a ton of oversized windows.
  10. JBS

    JBS New Member

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    All,
    Thanks for the replies, still love the Leyden...in honesty how often would I cook on it...not much. I guess it's nostalgia more than anything.

    Madison,
    Thanks for the reply, really think I'm sold on the T6 in the next house.
  11. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    Remember, in an emergency, if you use cast iron cookware, you can cook in the stove on coals. Also, don't forget about aluminum foil packages for cooking on/next to coals as well.

    Another option is to fire up the grill, of course, depending on how bad the weather is.

    Or, buy a cheap propane camp stove and keep a few 3lb cylinders around.

    As far as cooking on the stove top, I can boil water on mine but the stove needs to be running about 600 degrees to have enough boiling water to quickly cook pasta.

    As a matter of fact, to do a pot roast or beans, pork roast, etc, I need to use a trivet or a piece of soapstone to keep the heat down even when the stove is in the 450 range.

    I'm surprised you don't find the same to be true with the lopi.

    Just to double check, sure that thermometer is accurate?

    pen
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The problem is not due to the cast iron construction of the stove. We've cooked on our Jotuls and I can say that one has to be careful about boil overs. Something that may be affecting cooking on the Leyden is that it is a downdraft stove. That concentrates the reburn in the back of the stove. More conventional cast iron stoves from Jotul, Morso reburn just under the top plate which gets it hotter. Most steel stoves are designed this way too.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  13. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    Cooked on the Fireview soapstone top all the time. The newer Progress Hybrid has a built in cast iron cooktop with three separatae temperature "elements" under the soapstone top. You can also cook on the soapstone top, for four different temps. I've cooked everything...roasted Christmas turkey, cooked stews, soups, oatmeal, casseroles, steamed vegetables, roasted winter squashes...If you are going new and don't have the space and resources (And/or desire) to put an Esse Ironheart in the kitchen, you might consider a PH for the living area. Can certainly cook many things on it. I've been wanting Woodstock to make a soapstone oven for the top of it....
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  14. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    Might it be your pans instead of your stove? I think you need to have good contact between the bottom of your pan (all of it) and the stove. Some pans only partially make contact with the stove, even cast iron ones. I have Aga pans which are cast iron and milled to a very flat bottom for even contact and they work great on my Progress Hybrid stove.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  15. Butcher

    Butcher Minister of Fire

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    I've burnt more food on my Oslo than I care to think about cuz I didnt pay attention. Last night I dug 4 ears of last years sweet corn outta the freezer and boiled them up on the top of old Black Sabbath.:cool:
  16. JBS

    JBS New Member

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    All,
    I don't think it's the pan; I started with cast iron and then moved to my wife's "Emirel" pot...stainless w/ copper bottom (something like that). My next plan was to get one of those cheap aluminum pans from the dollar store but I never did it.

    Pen,
    Not sure how accurate my thermostat is; once I learned the stove I use it more as a guide anyway. The stove does a great job of "settling" on a temp; I control this by how soon I open the secondary and/or how much wood I put in. If the house is cold I can run it no problem at 550. When it gets to 600 (rarely) I have to start shutting it down or it's going to "run" to 650. I consider 650 overfire territory. Not real overfire temps but I can't control the stove so I don't go there.

    Thanks for all the replies; I'll check more on the Progress Hybrid.

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