Posts Tagged ‘cast iron skillet’

Don’t Cast Off Grandma’s Black Iron Skillet

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

And here yet another piece from one of our readers. If you’d like to share your thoughts on cookware too, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

I have very fond memories of cooking with my Grandmother. Grandma’s house was often filled with the good smells of chicken frying on her stove. Her black cast iron skillet was used frequently and really was an integral part of her kitchen.  However today we are trying to eat a healthier diet. We rarely eat fried food.  So, when Mum offered me grandma’s black iron skillet, I took it for sentimental reasons, not because I thought I’d use it. Boy was I wrong!

This black beauty is a reliable performer and has some unique features not found in modern cookware. Grandma’s fryer is big and it is great for frying.  This summer we enjoyed a couple of fish fry’s with friends.  I don’t like the smell of fish cooking inside, so we used the outdoor gas grill to fry the fish. The cast iron skillet worked like a charm.  The black iron skillet is the only pan that can stand that kind of total heat treatment. We even closed the grill lid to get maximum heat utilization.   Okay, I admit fried fish isn’t that much healthier then fried chicken. However, our summer fish frys were a fun. This was an inexpensive gathering with friends we would have missed without grandma’s iron skillet.

Grandma’s skillet also makes great oven baked corn bread. Corn bread made in a cast iron skillet seems to have better flavor development and browns very nicely.

Finally the cast iron skillet has become our preferred pan for pancakes. Every Sunday morning we enjoy homemade pancakes.  This skillet provides even heat distribution and our pancakes cook perfectly.  Of course Grandma’s iron skillet is well seasoned so just a little added oil is required.

A black iron skillet does require care. We clean the skillet immediately and we never soak this skillet.   After washing, we dry the skillet on the stove over low heat.   While still warm, I season my iron skillet by rubbing a little oil on the surface when required.

I think of my grandmother when I use the skillet.  I hope with a little care and a lot of love this skillet will provide many years of service to my family for another generation or two.

I hope you enjoy this wonderful article. For more articles on cast iron cookware click here (including how to handle cast iron cookware, different kinds of cast iron cookware and more).

Back to the Future with Cast Iron Cookware

Monday, October 13th, 2008

As a little girl I remember my grandmother cooking with her heavy cast iron cookware. Although they were cumbersome, she had used those same skillets for many years, and she certainly knew how to use them to cook up a fantastic meal.

In those days before processed foods and slow cookers, the majority of the food we ate was fried, and cast iron skillets were excellent for frying. The other major method of cooking was roasting, and cast iron roasters turned out wonderful pot roasts and chickens.

You just couldn’t beat cast iron for dispersing the heat evenly. Sometime in the late 1950s, however, my grandmother did away with the cast iron cookware in favor of more modern, aluminum pots, pans, and roasters. Even though Teflon hadn’t been introduced yet, and everything stuck to the aluminum cookware, she wanted to keep up with the times.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I started seeing cast iron pans in mail order catalogs again in the 21st century. The Lodge Cast Iron company, the premium maker of cast iron cookware, is still very much alive and well in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. In fact, they’ve been in business for over one hundred years. They still offer a line of cast iron cookware that looks just like the old pans my grandmother used to use, but with a modern twist. The old time pans needed to be broken in, so to speak. They had to be used over and over and over again before they developed a desired patina known as seasoning.

For 21st century users, however, the pans now come pre-seasoned as Lodge has now developed a coating which seasons the pans and makes them perfect to use new from the box. If you ever get down to southeastern Tennessee, you’ll want to be sure to visit the Lodge plant. They have an outlet store where you can purchase high-quality cookware for a fraction of its mail order price along with all the accessories you’ll need to use it. You still can’t beat cast iron for even heat, and it makes excellent cookware for campers and people who like to barbecue.In spite of innovations Lodge has introduced over the years, it’s a part of our American heritage that’s changed very little except to get better and better.

High Quality Cast Iron Cookware

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Cast iron cookware is not just for your grandmother anymore. Cookware manufacturers have researched and developed cast iron cookware for decades and have improved a lot on what cast iron used to be fifty years ago.
Cast iron cookware is still great for comfort foods, but there’s much more than that to it.

Let’s look at the “new and improved” cast iron cookware first:

Enameled Cast Iron Cookware has a porcelain enamel coating covering the surface. As with all coatings this makes cleaning a lot easier since the coating is much less sticky than the old school cast iron cookware. In terms of health that’s also an added benefit, because you will be able to cook and fry with much less oil. You don’t need to go through a whole seasoning or conditioning process with enameled cast iron cookware neither – it’s ready to use right out of the box. And one of the main drawbacks of cast iron cookware in my opinion (that it absorbs the taste of the foods that it has cooked previously and thus might alter the taste of the foods that you will cook next time) is non-existend with enameled cast iron cookware – no taste absorption!

Now let’s do it the old school way: I still love a good piece of tradition cast iron cookware. It’s kind of like with jeans or high quality Japanese lacquerware – the older it gets and the more you use it, the better it gets!
First when you get a traditional cast iron pan, skillet, casserole or griddle then you have to season it (another word used for seasoning is curing). You’ll have to rub some grease or shortening into the cast iron and bake the whole thing in the oven. Cast iron has lots of pores and these pores fill up with oils. With time a natural non-stick surface develops and you will be able to cook without any oil whatsoever! It’s kind of built-in oil. (But don’t worry – it doesn’t taste like old, greasy oil! The pores are so tiny that only the pure oil can get in there).