[Sca-cooks] Introduction & question

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Fri Jun 22 04:27:52 PDT 2007

On Jun 21, 2007, at 8:17 PM, jbjt30 at juno.com wrote:

> They have rivetted cauldron's that really look like fun and thier  
> note on how to authentically waterproof them was really  
> interesting!  I just don't know if it would really work.  If anyone  
> gets a chance I'd love to know what you think!
> I doubt I could afford the shipping but they sure look neat!
> Thanks!
> Fa'rissa (of the Outlands)

I haven't done it, but it sounds sensible enough, in theory. If you  
know how the seasoning of cast iron pots works, think of cast iron  
under a microscope as being composed of crystals, but in a sort of  
foamy matrix. It's a very porous substance. When you season and cook  
in an iron pan, you're filling those pores with fats which will  
eventually oxidize or otherwise chemically convert into a solid,  
plastic-like substance. When you do this, you're reducing the surface  
area, making the pan smoother, and giving the fats in foods being  
cooked no place to go but as a lubricant between the food and the  
pan. As you use the pan (and clean it properly without losing  
seasoning from previous usage), the inner surface gets coated with  
newer droplets of fat. If you use the pan frequently, these are  
likely to be fresh and haven't yet become a plasticized layer, nor  
will they contribute a bad flavor to your food. And it takes very  
little additional fat to cook your food without it sticking to the  
pan. Generally speaking...

With me so far?

Here you have a steel pot (the period article would presumably have  
been sheet iron but that's probably harder to come by for most small  
metalworking concerns). It's probably less porous than a cast iron  
pot, but it still has these cracks to fill between the plates. As  
with the pores in an iron pot, you're essentially filling them with  
leftover bits of food which will serve as a cement, sealer, and  
eventually, seasoning.

Note that what's advertised is a Viking-style cauldron, and what's  
being suggested as foods for sealing and seasoning this pot are the  
same foods early Scandinavians would have been living on (more or  
less, although maybe not the sugar) anyway: milk, oats, assorted  
sugar forms, etc. As with seasoning an iron pot, this is a process  
meant to artificially accelerate the process whereby the pot improves  
with repeated use: you're filling the gaps between the plates, and  
the rivet holes, with naturally occurring adhesives/fillers, like  
fiber and starch granules from oats, cemented, caramelized sugars,  
both from the sugar you add and from the milk, and plasticized fats  
from the milk. If you were a Norse lady cooking a pottage in a new  
pot, it's conceivable you might have used this sealing process (this  
is research I simply haven't done), or you might have simply used a  
leaky pot, and allowed some percentage of your pottage to leak  
through into the fire, but you'd probably notice after several uses  
that this tendency decreased, and eventually stopped (you wouldn't be  
washing between the cracks, I assume), and your pot would be  
watertight and nearly non-stick if properly used and maintained.

Perhaps not nearly as new-looking and shiny as when you bought it,  
but still quite functional.


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