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Why and How to Buy Cast Iron Cookware

WHY AND HOW TO BUY CAST IRON

You may already have a set of cast iron cookware, or you may be asking yourself, why should I invest in a cast iron pan?  For the matter, why invest in a cast iron pan cookbook?

The unique properties of cast iron make it ideal for baking, sauteing, frying, slow cooking, and more.  A well-made pan is virtually indestructible and when properly seasoned is nonstick.  Iron is almost endlessly recyclable, so not only will it last you a lifetime, but you can feel good knowing it never has to end up in a landfill.  A good pan will also add trace amounts of iron, a necessary nutrient, to your diet.

Cast iron heats slowly and holds that heat.  It’s a bit of a myth that it holds heat evenly, though.  The pan will always be hotter directly over the burner.  ( You can sprinkle some flour in your pan and place it on a burner to see.  The flour will darken first where the pan gets hottest.)  To remedy this, consider purchasing a heat diffuser.

Recipes that are designed for cast iron take into account slower heating time and longer hear retention.  Where glass will keep your baked goods light, cast iron is the choice for when you want a screaming hot pan for searing or a terrific golden crust.

The pans work on gas and electric stoves.  They can go in the oven and can be used on induction burners and direct heat; outdoors, too, on a grill, hearth, or open fire.  Many recipes in this site include directions for outdoor cooking.

At the most basic level, a cast iron pan is just that, a pan make of iron that was cast in sand-blast molds, then polished.  The tools have been slightly upgraded, but the manufacturing technique is the same as it has been for hundreds of years.

When buying cast iron, you will notice that there’s only one major manufacturer left in America today, Lodge.  However, there are several very popular vintage brands you can buy online or find at garage sales or thrift shops.  Happily, there are also at least two very small craftsmen making pans to order.  Finex in Portland, Oregon, and Borough Furnace in Syracuse, New York.  They are worth seeking out.

Whether you decide to buy a brand new pan or go with something vintage, think about what shapes and sizes you need.  Always remember the weight of a pan when purchasing.  It is too heavy to pick up, you aren’t going to use it.  Find a smaller size that will be used.

Check out our Recommended Products page to see all the cast iron we have used and recommend.

What are your thoughts on cast iron?  Please leave us a comment.

6 thoughts on “Why and How to Buy Cast Iron Cookware

  1. I love my cast iron skillet for camping. Nothing better than heating it up and frying bacon and eggs for breakfast over the open campfire. You are absolutely correct, cast iron will last a lifetime. We actually used ours to cook an egg for my son’s science experiment. We had to build a solar oven and we used a Fresnel Lens. I don’t know if you are aware of the raw power (heat) a Fresnel Lens is capable of producing, but it is really intense heat. Anyway, the cast iron skillet held up no problem. It’s a bit sad to see that Lodge is about the only manufacturer left in the US. Great post, and very informative, thanks for sharing.

    1. We love our cast iron cookware and use it daily.  We cook almost every meal in our 10 inch cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.  Food almost seems to taste better from cast.

      I have never heard of your son’s experiment or a Fresnel Lens.  Wow, it sounds fun.  We homeschool our children and completely understand doing science experiments with the young ones.  I will have to look up what the Fresnel Lens can do.

      It seems to me that not too many people use cast iron cookware often like we do.  At one time I am sure everyone used a cast iron skillet but as we moved to gas and electricity to cook with then we also moved onto different cookware as well.  Therefore, not many people making the old cast iron skillets anymore.  Lodge is the largest one making the cast.  You can still find a few small companies that make custom cast, but most of it is made by Lodge.

  2. Hey Bob:

    I have a fondness for my cast-iron cookware, mostly because they are quite versatile, as you say.

    Thanks for the names of the vintage brands that might be worth looking into.

    The thing I agree with the most: Those things are HEAVY! If you choose pots and pans that you can actually lift easly, you will definitely reach for them more often when you’re cooking.

    1. Thanks for stopping by my site.

      I think everything taste better that comes from a cast iron skillet.  We use our all the time but they are heavy and sometimes it is so much easier to pull out the lighter skillet and use it. 

      I always look for some of these cast iron skillets when I am out and about.  Old farm sales are a great place, sometimes you can find several of these old rusty pans laying in a box and most people don’t even know what they are.  Good luck finding them.

      Enjoy cooking with your cast iron skillets and please come back to find recipes to cook in your cast.

      Thanks

  3. Cast iron is the way to go! I love cooking in mine. I could probably use a new one because mine is heavy and old.

    Every now and then I burn something when trying to brown it, forgetting how hot it gets! Oh, and don’t ever pick one up with your hand!

    1. Thanks, Kyle, I am so glad you stopped by my site.
      Cast iron is the best way to cook any meal and it always seems like it taste better when using cast iron cookware.
      I had to chuckle when you said you should buy a new one because yours is heavy and old. The new one you would get would be heavy and new. You are better off using the older ones you have because they are probably seasoned better than what your new one would be. You must remember that these cast iron skillets and other cookware will last for generations. Please hold on to your old set. They are not any liter.
      They are something to get used to but once you master cooking form cast iron you will never go back to something else.
      Please come back to see what else we have. We are adding new cast iron cookware recipes almost daily. Check them out.

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