Cast Iron Skillet Comparison
Cast Iron Skillet Buying Guide
Why Buy a Cast Iron Skillet?
Cast iron is a hearty, highly durable type of cookware that is made from a virtually indestructible material. When people buy cast iron, it is something that they are going to have for life unless you purposely get rid of it. For this reason, people look at purchasing a cast iron pan or cookware as an investment.
There are many reasons that you will want to get a cast iron pan for your kitchen. We have outlined some of the more common reasons that people purchase cast iron pans.
- Cooks more evenly than thin pans do
- Heats evenly
- The pan’s seasoning creates a natural non-stick surface
- Multipurpose uses: campfire pan, cookie sheet, pizza stone, skillet and more.
- Can go from stove to oven with no worries
- Nearly indestructible, rusting is the biggest concern but this is fixable
- Can be used with metal utensils unlike most nonstick cookware
- Easy to clean
- Lasts forever, plan on passing this down to your grandchildren
Enameled or Traditional Cast Iron?
Some people like the convenience of enameled cast iron cookware which is cast iron that has an enamel coating over it. The reason for choosing enameled cast iron is usually simply to have pans that require less care and maintenance.
Enameled cast iron does not need to be seasoned and can be washed in a sink with warm, soapy water. They can also be used to cook foods that are more acidic and will not put that metallic taste into the food that can happen when using a traditional cast iron pan. Enameled Cast iron cannot go on a campfire because the fire would ruin the coating and the enamel can chip during regular use.
Despite the fact that cast iron needs to be seasoned, it is, by far, the heartier of the two choices since there is no worry about chipping or problems. The care of cast iron is really very small in comparison to what you can do with it.
Skillets and Dutch Ovens
There are two common types of cast iron pans: Dutch ovens and skillets. Larger pans will be heavier so most people choose the smallest pan they can use and still meet their needs sufficiently. If you want to fry or sauté meat often, a skillet is a good choice to make. They are also very good for making pancakes and other foods as well.
If you love to make a lot of sauces, soups, roasts and stews, you will love the Dutch oven. Dutch ovens are deep and have a cast iron lid as well. The most common size used is the 5 or 6 quart size. It can usually hold 8 servings of whatever it is you’re cooking. If you are looking for a good pan for the campfire or over coals, a Dutch oven with legs, called a spider, is an excellent choice.
Considerations when Purchasing a Cast Iron Pan
- Weight – Cast iron pans come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and uses. Weight is one of the considerations people make when looking at the different styles available. A cast iron pan that is heavy and cumbersome can be a pain to use, even though is cooks the food well. No one wants to have to get two people to help lift a pan. So be certain to choose a size and weight that you can lift. Something to keep in mind is that the heavier weight items will hold heat longer
- Handles – Handles are very beneficial in moving the cast iron pan from one place to another. The cast iron pans and skillets you purchase need to have handles that are easy to use and that don’t create an increase in burns for the cook. When dealing with cast iron you must ensure that the items you are cooking with have a cover over the handle so you don’t get burned. Some cast iron has covered handles but if you are looking to use your cast iron for camping and cooking on campfires, covered handles will not work.
Building the Initial Seasoning for Your Cast Iron
We have outlined the steps involved in seasoning cast iron and keeping it in excellent condition. None of the steps are difficult and don’t require any special ingredients or skills. It is important to do these things to keep your cast iron cooking at the optimum performance level.
- Pour a half cup of kosher salt into the cast iron pan. Using a paper towel, start rubbing the salt around the inside of the pan to get the dust and impurities that may be in it removed. Wash with hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly and carefully.
- Oil the pan by taking a paper towel and soaking it in highly unsaturated oil such as canola, corn or vegetable and rub every surface of the pan.
- Put the cast iron pan in the oven and heat it up for 30 minutes. It will smoke but that is okay. When the surface is blacker than it was when you started, you can take it out of the oven.
- Repeat the oiling and heating steps 3 to 4 more times until the cast iron pan is pitch black. Place it on the stove top to cool and you’re all set.
Once a good solid layer of seasoning is on the pan your cast iron pan becomes somewhat bullet proof. It can’t be scratched out with metal utensils or washed out with soap. There are just a few steps that you will need to do to maintain that excellent seasoning.
Maintaining Your Cast Iron Pan
- Use the cast iron pan often, especially for frying and searing which will add to the polymer layers.
- Clean the pan immediately after use, never let it “soak” and don’t let it sit with dried food in it for any length of time. Removing the food debris is much easier to do when the pan is hot. Don’t cook liquid based dishes in the frying pan until there is a good level of seasoning on the surface.
- Avoid tough abrasives including metal scouring pads and cleansers that have abrasives like Comet and Bar Keepers Friend. Most things can be cleaned off with the scrubby part of a two sided sponge.
- Dry the cast iron pan thoroughly, reheat it and then oil it before putting it away. Let it cool before storing. Doing these things can easily become habit so you don’t have to even think about it, you’ll just do it as part of the cleanup process.
Cast iron has been the go to cookware for decades, dating back far into the late 1800s/early 1900s. It is durable, lasts forever and does a great job of heating evenly and cooking food to perfection. Even though there are some steps involved in taking care of cast iron, this has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm that people have for cooking with it.
The information we have included in this buyer’s guide will help you choose the right cast iron pan for your kitchen but will also help you season it properly the first time and teach you how to maintain the condition of your pan for as long as you have it.
When you have the right information about the product you’re interested in, it makes sorting through the choices much easier. You’ll be able to make an informed decision as to the cast iron pan you want and feel confident in that decision.
- Lodge – https://www.lodgemfg.com/