Cast iron has been around for much longer than you may think. Artifacts have been found that date back to 5th century B.C. China. Areas of Asia, such as India, Korea, and Japan also have a long recorded history of using cast iron cooking containers. A version of an English cast iron kettle appeared in the late 600’s and the word “pot” arrived shortly after in the 1180’s. The first patent of a cast iron cooking pot came on the scene in the 1700’s.. It was credited to Abraham Darby. From there, indoor kitchens developed and in the 18th and mid-19th centuries, cast iron skillets became standard across Europe and in the U.S. In 1865, Griswold and Wagners became one of the first manufacturers of American cast iron cookware. Lodge Manufacturers followed shortly after in 1896, and their popularity spread across the country.
The use of cast iron cookware significantly declined in the 1960’s. The introduction of teflon and aluminum non-stick pans quickly changed the skillet of choice in many American kitchens. This led to many of the cast iron cookware companies closing and going out of business. By the end of the 20th century, Lodge Manufacturing was the only manufacturer of cast iron cookware left in the U.S.
When using a cast iron skillet it should be of a good quality and thickness. Additionally, it can take some time time to get your skillet seasoned properly. I recently found a skillet that is a quality cast iron skillet and also includes a silicone cover on the handle to make it easier to pick up and move when the skillet is hot. This is a really good option when you are looking to purchase a cast iron skillet.
More recently, cast iron has made a comeback in popularity. Some cooks believe cast iron is the best choice to add extra flavor into dishes. Others like the flexibility that it offers when searing food and then being able to transfer it directly into the oven. One consideration when using cast iron is the seasoning. Most modern skillets come pre-seasoned, but it is still necessary to know how to season a cast iron pan in the event the surfaces wears down over time and you need to re-season. It is a simple process and once completed, your pan will be just like new.
Overall, cast iron skillets may have the reputation of being “old fashioned”, but you can’t deny the benefits and reliability. Nowadays, there are many different skillet choices on the market. From color coated non-stick pans to stainless steel, the options may feel almost endless. How do you really know what is better for you? It depends on what you are looking for as they all have their advantages. My vote is for the tried and true cast iron skillet and here are three major reasons why:
- Cast iron is made with natural materials and chemical free. It is very easy to clean no there are no added synthetic chemical coatings. Non-stick coatings have heightened safety concerns, especially when cooking at high heats above 500 degrees. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reported that one chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has been labeled “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. So, why risk it?
- Cast iron is really hard to damage and gets better with age. The durable iron wins when it comes to longevity. Even better, a cast iron skillet improves with each use due to the seasoning of the pan. Seasoning refers to the technique in which oils are applied and cooked into the cast iron skillet. This creates a stick resistant layer that allows food to come away easily.
- All-purpose use. You can take it from stovetop to oven and even outside over the fire. Cast iron skillets can serve as formidable baking dishes that create delightful pies and one pot suppers. Just don’t forget the oven mit! Additionally, there is another added bonus! No time to get to the gym? No problem! With the average large cast iron skillet weighing in between 3-5 pounds without food you can easily develop some muscle over time hoisting that skillet from stove to oven to table.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
As the only full line of American-made cast iron cookware, Lodge boasts quality that has been unmatched for over a century. Even heating, a natural easy-release finish, versatility and durability are the hallmarks of our great cookware. We don’t just make cast iron; we make heirlooms that bring people together for generations.