Have you watched food shows and seen them working with a piece of cast iron both on the stove top and in the oven? There’s a reason why this material is one that is coveted by cooks everywhere whether on the line or in the kitchen. It works. Here’s some information about the best cast iron cookware and why you will want that on your wish list.
Why It Works
Cast iron conducts heat like no other material. Its versatility has it moving from stove to oven effortlessly and it lasts. Some cast iron pieces have been passed down from generation to generation and, short of using it as a hammer, it will last longer than you’re alive.
Caveat: Not all ranges are suited for cast iron. For example, a glass topped range may not be an ideal surface for using cast iron on the stove top. Why? That stove top can get scratched easily.
Types of Cast Iron
You can buy two types of cast iron: Bare and enameled. Bare pieces do not have any colorful enamel coating to them and need to be “seasoned” in order to make them a non-stick item. These bare pots and pans are the ones you’ve probably inherited from family.
Enameled, on the other hand, costs more but also typically come pre-seasoned. Make sure to check the coating carefully because if a particular piece “sheds” it’s coating you’ve just paid a lot for what is, essentially, a piece of bare cast iron. Also, uneven coating will lead to uneven heating.
You’ll want this coating to be thick enough to stand up to utensils you use in cooking and be scratch resistant. Enamel or porcelain has a reputation for scratching easily when using sharp tools which can mess around with the uniformity of heating.
One of the premier makers of cast iron in the U.S. is the Lodge Company. Their pieces are also affordable and can be purchased in stores like Wal Mart and Target.
Before buying your first piece of cast iron, determine the size and type you are looking for. Lodge makes large, medium and small skillets and most of them come with an extra handle for easier lifting.
You can also buy a cast iron griddle/grill combo – it’s flat on one side and has a grill pan surface on the opposite side. Lodge bare cast iron pieces can be had for under $30.
Le Creuset makes a line of enameled cast iron but you may end up paying as much as $150 for one piece.
Staub is a reputable maker of cast iron cookware, but can be a bit pricey. Their Dutch oven costs around $200.
Whatever manufacturer you choose, make sure to do your homework on style, price and the pieces you think you will want. Buying them one at a time and seeing how well they work for you may be the best option before buying an entire set.
Who do you think makes the best cast iron cookware?