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Invest in Cast Iron Pans

June 3, 2011

Food Preparation

When Joe and I got engaged, I was given a set of well-seasoned cast iron pans by his grandparents. At the time, I thought that a bunch of used heavy old-fashioned skillets and pans were just about the last thing I’d ever use in the kitchen, especially after the admonition never to use soap on them. What?!

As it turns out, cast iron pans are the ones I value the most and I have come to see them in a whole new light. I think you will too.

Well Regarded For A Long Time For Good Reason

Cast iron has been used for hundreds of years in cooking for good reason. After years of use, they provided the first non-stick pans. They can be used nearly anywhere too- range top, in the oven, over a campfire, on the potbelly stove,… And they are simple to clean. What more could you ask for?

New Isn’t Always Better

If you do a little research on new non-stick surfaces added to new cookware, you quickly find that there is a good bit of evidence to suggest that it is not safe to use, much less to prepare food in. As it heats up, scientists have found that toxic vapors are given off that are harmful to breathe. Further, as you’ve probably experienced yourself, the coating on the pan eventually degrades or scratches off and you have to get a new one in a few years. Any guesses where the coating went?

Iron, on the other hand, is a mineral that your body needs and many of us don’t get enough of it. If you scrape some tiny bit of the iron into the food as you stir, so much the better.

A Good Investment

With all these benefits, why don’t more people use cast iron pans? I think mostly because they just don’t’ know their value. We’ve grown up in the age of aluminum and throw-away items. We are accustomed to the idea of buying a cheap item and using it for a little while, then replacing it with another. This is not really economical, nor does it provide a durable item that will serve you well for a long time. It also assumes an endless supply of new items and low prices.

I argue that the investment in a quality skillet, Dutch oven, and a few other pans will more than pay for themselves. In the time since Joe’s grandparents first began cooking with the ones they eventually gave me, I’m sure most other people have thrown away at least 10 inferior quality ones of questionable safety.

Recommendations

There is a very reputable brand called Lodge that sells high quality cast iron cookware. They are available online, in many Cracker Barrel restaurants, and even in farm supply stores sometimes. Most come “pre-seasoned,” though I always give new items an additional treatment for good measure. Other brands may be alright also.

A few years ago, we bought a set of unseasoned American Camper brand pans exactly for that purpose. We didn’t want to take along our “good stuff” and risk it rusting or being lost, so we took a gamble on those instead. They didn’t feel as smooth or well-made as some other brands, so we weren’t sure how they would work. As it turns out, they took “seasoning” even faster than some others and have turned out to be some of our best pans.

More To Come

In a future posting, we will give information about how you can successfully season your own cast iron dishes and start a collection to pass down to your grandchildren.

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13 Comments on “Invest in Cast Iron Pans”

  1. Jarhead Survivor Says:

    I love cast iron pans. My wife doesn’t care for them as much because they’re so heavy, but in the time she’s gone through four or five of the non-stick pans I’m still using my cast iron frying pan. Not only is it a better surface to cook on the value of these pans is awesome especially after you’ve used them for thirty years (like the pans your grandparents gave you.) I love hearing stories like that.

    Reply

  2. SurvivalWoman Says:

    I purchased a 12″ Lodge skillet about six weeks ago and it has become the most used pan in my cupboard. Yes, I still love my good stuff – Analon Professional – but when it comes to a quick stir fry or some burgers, the cast iron skillet scores every time.

    Next on my wish list is the Dutch Oven. Can’t wait to get one.

    Oh – one more thing: I purchased the pre-seasoned skillet but just for safe measure, am adding a very light coat of oil when I use it. After a few more months, I should no longer need to do so.

    — Gaye

    Reply

  3. Jeff Says:

    You should try Griswold cast iron items. I find them in antique stores in small rural communities for a great price. IMHO the quality is superior to Lodge. A little Internet research will tell you which ones are the preferred models. I recently bought an 8qt Griswold large logo Dutch oven for $40.00.
    Anyway, I enjoy your blog so keep up the good work. I’ve learned a lot.

    Reply

  4. Fasthomecooking.Com Says:

    If you desire to get a good deal from this post then you have to apply such strategies to your won website.

    Reply

  5. Debra Says:

    Can you tell me anything about the brand “American Camper”. I purchased a used cast iron griddle and can’t find any info on this maker. Thank You

    Reply

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