25 April, 2010

Vintage Sunday: Wearever No. 325 Covered Roaster

Ladies and gentlement, I present to you perhaps the best covered roaster ever sold:  The Wearever Aluminum No. 325, originally sold in the 1940's.  The one in the picture above is my own, and you can probably tell by the assorted little dings and patina that it sees a lot of use.

Its big rectangular footprint is awesome. The bottom surface of the roaster measures about 9 by 14 inches, and the bottom pan is 5 inches deep, with a matching 5-inch-tall lid -and because it's a rectangle instead of on oval, it's easy to scrape along with the square blade of a spatula.

So, what can you do with such a big roaster?  A pair of chickens or a full turkey is the obvious answer, but this pan gets a lot more use than just poultry duty.  It can hold a full corned beef brisket along with veggies and liquid for oven braising.  You can use the bottom and the lid, side by side, each holding more than a double batch of homemade Chex Mix, so instead of doing four standard batches for all those holdiay parties, you can do one big quad batch all at once.  It's great for pre-cooking lasagne noodles - you can lay the noodles down full-length and flat (can't do that in a stock pot.)  The pan will easily bridge the front and back burners on my range, so I can quickly make huge quantities of gravy for big family dinners.  And, of course, you can always use a big roaster for small jobs as well.

The best part about the pan, though, is the affordability.  I paid 50 cents for mine at a church rummage sale many years ago, but they were produced in huge quantities, and I still see them at tag sales and rummage sales for a dollar or less, and at flea markets for less than $5.  Many standard roasting racks will fit comfortably within these pans, but if you can, make sure you get the original 3-piece set consisting of the roasting pan, lid, and aluminum rack (very sturdy and made of sheet aluminum.)  Once you find one and use it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without one.


judi said...

I have my Mom's. She died this year so it really means a lot to me. I cooked yesterday's turkey in it

Anonymous said...

I just picked one up last Saturday at an estate sale for $1.00. I was so happy and my Mother who passed away in December would be so proud of me. I thought of her when I bought it and how now I can make meals like she used to do.


Colleen said...

I would love to get one of these roasters. My Mom had one, which is now my sister's. If you can direct me I would truly appreciate it???

Dave said...

Colleen - Unfortunately, Wearever doesn't make them any more, so you'll need to stumble upon one at a thrift store, church rummage sale, flea market, or estate sale. There are a lot of them out there (I still see a couple of them every tag-sale season) so it's just a matter of time before you'll come across one if you're looking.

Jullibully said...

I have one, all 5 pcs. I love this pan, I use it to steam oysters among the other uses. I would love to have a manual, does anyone have a copy?

JJ said...

I have one of these, my second one actually. Here is the story. I got my first from my mother's back porch about 35 years ago, she didn't want it, it came from my dad's sister. I used it for years. At a flea market, I saw a duplicate, as shiny as new and in better conditon, I got it for $5. I gave my old one to my daughter, and she was thrilled. I had experimented over the years trying to make the perfect turkey, brown paper bags, breast side down, blah blah, till my family pleaded me to STOP, just use the roaster, it was perfect.

I needed a picture to show some people and found your site. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I love mine... Just cooked the thanksgiving turkey... Best turkey ever in the best pan ever...

Melissa said...

I'm sorting through my grandmother in law's things - very sad process - and something told me this roasting pan was special. Could you please show me a photo of the aluminum rack that's supposed to be on the inside? It may be lurking in this kitchen and I haven't been able to identify it yet.
Many thanks!

Dave said...

Melissa - Please send me an email using the Contact Me form and I'll email you a picture of the rack. (It's a one-piece piece of stamped aluminum with a rolled edge.)

Laurie said...

I was just browsing the net and discovered your site! Eureka!
I finally identified my 'on-a-whim visit and spontaneous purchase' roaster here on your site.
Yes, I agree. It is a wonderfully made product, but I could really use some sort of springboard on how to use it to its fullest purpose... canning as well.
Would you know how I could get a copy of the manual? Apparently there was a "copied" version on eBay, but the bid is now closed... sniff.
The Wear Ever model# is "Pat. 1788817", as stamped under the handle. Under the main body is "No. 825-FR"
Would appreciate any advice!

Thanks much,
Laurie, Calif.

Dave said...

Laurie - I have to admit, it would never occur to me that a roasting pan would have an owner's manual!

Like I mentioned in my write-up, I've found lots of uses for it beyond just roasting, but those uses just sort of suggested themselves when I had a problem to solve that other pans or utensils didn't seem to fit.

When you mention canning, are you thinking of using it as a steam canner? If you are, there are sites on the web where you can get advice for steam canning that you should be able to adapt for the pan, but to tell the truth, I don't really trust steam canning to do a good job and most books on preservation don't really recommend it.

I will, though, keep an eye open for some sort of "official" manual for the pan, and if I find it, I'll let you know.

In the meantime, you might try writing to Wearever. Even though they don't make the pan anymore, they are still in business and might be able to help you out with some info if they maintain a company archive. You could start at www.wearever.com - I think they have a contact form there.

SleeplessDemelza said...

Hi, I just found this post after trying to explain to someone what my Wearever on-burner roasting pan was. I actually have the manual!!! My husband found one of these roasters on eBay about a decade ago; I think we spent around $20, and it was money well spent.

My mother-in-law still has her roaster, and she copied the manual for me. You can bake cakes and do all sorts of things with it, although I admit we've only used it for poultry so far.

It is quite a few pages long, but I guess I will try to scan it and make a file for this. Anyone still interested in getting this guide? Feel free to email me, since I may not remember to check back here.


SleeplessDemelza said...

Just sent the file from the manual. By the way, it is a Wearever No. 825, not 325. Probably the number is worn on yours.

Patti Knueppelo said...

Check eBay I saw some, I have my grandmothrro, then mothers now mine. They last forever

pmalbarado said...

My husband is so excited after a friend of ours gave him this WearEver No.825 Roaster! He remembers when his Mom used to make meals in it for her family many years ago! So happy for him! He plans to use it for canning with pint jars for next year's produce season!

Marlene said...

I am 73 years young and I have this same pan; it was MY GRANDMOTHERS! She had it when I was a small child, so it just shows that WearEver does indeed wear for, ever!

Sandy said...

Hi SleeplessDemelza, I'd love a copy of the manual if you have it... thanks