“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” ~ William A. Foster
We’ve all done it – headed over to TJ Maxx or Ross and picked up a $10 fry pan because the one we had just wasn’t working anymore. It warped from the heat, the teflon flaked off, or it just wouldn’t come clean anymore. However, as with most things we buy for cheap and spur of the moment, that $10 fry pan “bargain” probably won’t last very long before it too needs replacing.
In the past, households had one, maybe two, pans to use for all kinds of cooking. Today we have 15 different pans for 15 different things we like to cook, with most of them lasting a few short years before needing replacement. Added up over time, millions of cheap pots and pans end up sitting in a landfill for all of eternity. That’s not sustainable and it’s not a smart use of materials or money. A better idea is to buy products that will last forever, and cast iron cookware can be handed down to future generations for them to enjoy.
Cast Iron is what all pots and pans used to be made out of, and for good reason: they last forever. With proper care (to be discussed below) cast iron cookware can last hundreds of years. What used to only come in one form, cast iron is now available as woks, frypans, dutch ovens, grills, and skillets. Why should you purchase and stick with cast iron cookware? The reasons are many:
- No toxic teflon to contend with
- Fully temperature-resistant, meaning they can be used on the stove top or in the oven
- Very easy to clean
- Properly seasoned, cast iron pans are nonstick
- Inexpensive, especially given how long they last
- Does not scratch, so you can avoid using plastic utensils in all that heat
The important thing to remember about cast iron cookware is that it requires some care. It’s easy to do, but you definitely have to do it in order to protect your investment and insure that the pan(s) last forever. Here’s how to care for your cast iron:
- It must be seasoned. If it’s new and wasn’t seasoned prior to delivery, you need to season it. Here’s how. But even after you’ve owned it for a while, you still need to season it on occasion. Frequency depends on what you are cooking with it.
- Once done cooking, clean it with water – no soap. If food is cooked onto the pan and won’t come off, fill the pan with some water and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat, dump out, and clean with a stiff nylon brush or another stiff cleaning product. Anything left should come off easily. Steel wool can even be used, but re-seasoning will be 100% necessary afterwards.
- Towel dry or place back on the heat until all moisture is gone from the pan. If necessary, season a little with vegetable oil. Make sure the item is DRY, as cast iron can rust if put away wet. Luckily, any rust that shows up can be sanded off using sandpaper or steel wool.
Told you it was easy. The key is the seasoning. Keep your cast iron seasoned and dry, and it should literally last hundreds of years.
Lodge Cast Iron sells cast iron cookware made here in the USA, should you wish to buy quality cast iron from a company based in the U.S. Like colors rather than plain ole’ black? Companies like Le Creuset sell quality enameled cast iron everything in plenty of beautiful colors. It’s expensive – kinda like designer cookware – but word to the wise: sometimes TJ Maxx and the like sell Le Creuset products at way below market price, so be on the lookout if that’s your thing.
Pick up one decent-sized cast iron pan and you will have one that serves most of your cooking needs and will be used by your grandchildren. When it finally is in need of discarding, the entire thing can be recycled. It is a lifetime (inexpensive) investment and will never need replacing. Ever.
Buy Once, Buy For Life. Stop buying cheap crap.
See all the articles in the Buy Once, Buy For Life series.