Cast iron cookware has been around a long time. It can be traced back to as early as the year 1180.
Cast iron was favored because it could withstand the heat of direct fire cooking. It could be heated well beyond the limits of cookware used at that time.
It is still the toughest cookware in existence today. Most cast iron cookware has been handed down through many generations.
New cast iron cookware is still produced today. The best cast iron cookware is still produced in much the same way it was 100 years ago.
Because cast iron cookware is so durable, with proper care it can quite literally last forever!
Cast Iron does require some care and maintenance to ensure that it will last for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to use.
In this article, I am going to cover some of the best brands of cast iron cookware, how to care for cast iron, cooking tips and much more!
How Is Cast Iron Cookware Made?
Cast iron cookware is made by melting blocks of iron and steel together in a factory. Then chemicals are added to the mixture in order to raise its carbon levels.
Next, the molten metal is poured into a mold made of sand, water, and powdered clay. The cast iron piece is then removed from the mold and cleaned.
The molds can be used many different times. Any cast iron cookware pieces that have imperfections are recycled to be remolded.
The cast iron cookware goes through a tempering process. This process ensures the cookware can withstand the heat of cooking.
This also ensures the cookware does not become soft or brittle. This is one reason why cast iron cookware has such longevity.
Who Still Makes Cast Iron Cookware Today?
Lodge is one of the largest, oldest, and most recognizable names in the cast iron cookware industry today.
Founded in 1896 by Joseph Lodge, Lodge manufacturing is headquartered in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, United States.
Lodge Cast iron cookware can be found in many retail stores that sell housewares. It is still manufactured the same today as it was when the company was first founded.
The Griswold Company, founded as the Seldon and Griswold Manufacturing Company in 1874, became known as the premier manufacturer of high-quality cast-iron kitchen items in the United States.
The Griswold cast iron foundry was based in Erie, Pennsylvania; and until the early 1900s cast-iron items from this company were marked with an “ERIE” logo. In the early 1900s, this was changed to a “GRISWOLD” logo, and it is this logo that is most commonly associated with Griswold cast-iron cookware.
Griswold filed for bankruptcy in 1957, and the company was acquired by Randall Corporation, who had also acquired Griswold’s rival Wagner Ware in 1952.
Randall sold both Wagner and Griswold to the General Housewares Corporation in 1969, and they were the producers of these brands through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. These brands were acquired by the American Culinary Corporation of Willoughby, Ohio in 2000 when WagnerWare Corp. ceased operations in Sidney, Ohio.
The Atlanta Stove Works Company was founded in 1889 (originally named Georgia Stove Company) to produce cast-iron stoves.
Due to the booming business in 1902, an additional foundry was built in Birmingham Alabama. This foundry was named Birmingham Stove and Range.
The Birmingham Stove and Range company produced cast iron cookware up until the 1970s when it was acquired by Lodge Manufacturing.
Milo, founded in 2018 and being one of the newest brands, is a Los Angeles based company that manufactures kitchen essentials. They launched in 2018 with a cast iron enameled Dutch Oven. They sell exclusively online from their website and have a lifetime warranty on their products.
There are several other notable manufactures of high quality cast iron cookware that can be found online.
Best: Cast Iron Cookware
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle. 10.5” Griddle, 8” Skillet, 10.25” Skillet, 10.25” Dutch Oven, and 10.25” Lid
As the world entered a new century, Lodge reinvented the cookware world with Foundry Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware.
Lodge sprays vegetable oil onto the cookware, then bakes it on at high temperatures to create a natural, easy-release cooking surface for everything from Skillets, to Grill Pans, Camp Dutch Ovens and our Restaurant quality serving pieces.
Produced in our Tennessee foundry, the seasoning process won a 2003 Good Housekeeping “Good Buy Award,” leading to a world wide renaissance in Cast Iron Cooking!
The 5-pc collection is a great starter for all the essential cast iron cookware pieces for your kitchen.
Griddles are essential for big breakfasts, quesadillas, roasted vegetables, or grilled sandwiches.
Skillets are great for sautéing, frying, stir-frying, searing and baking on the stovetop, in the oven, and over fires for endless recipes. While dutch ovens are perfect for soups and stews.
Skillet Set – Pre Seasoned 3 Piece Cast Iron set – 6.5, 8, 10.5 Inches By Old Mountain
This Old Mountain cast iron skillet set is pre seasoned and ready to use. The three sizes included are 6 1/2″, 8″, and 10 1/2″.
Cast iron retains heat better than any other cooking media and is the cooking choice of many chefs and home cooks alike. The attractive Old Mountain logo embossed on the bottom of each skillet adds extra style and value.
- Pre Seasoned and Ready to Use
- 10 1/2 inch Skillet comes with assist handle
- All 3 skillets come with Old Mountain logo embossed on the bottom
- Extra-long handles with thumb grip
- Retains heat better than other cookware
AmazonBasics Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 5-Piece Cookware Set
A wonderful cast-iron starter set or addition to any growing cookware collection, this AmazonBasics Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 5-Piece Cookware Set works well for everyday favorites and newly inspired recipes alike.
The set includes a 10.5-inch griddle, an 8-inch skillet, a 10.25-inch skillet, and a 10.25-inch Dutch oven with a matching lid.
Use the griddle for breakfast foods, quesadillas, and grilled sandwiches. The exceptionally versatile skillets come in handy for sautéing, searing, pan-frying, baking, broiling, roasting, and more.
For all-in-one meals, the Dutch oven is the way to go. The cookware moves seamlessly from the refrigerator to the stovetop or oven to the table for easy serving.
How To Care For And Season Your Cast Iron Cookware
With proper care, your cast iron cookware will last forever. One of the biggest things to remember to never store wet or damp.
Rust is the worst enemy of cast iron. This usually occurs from cast iron cookware being left in water or stored while still damp.
If your cast iron cookware does rust, do not panic, it is not the end of the world. The wonderful thing about cast iron is, it can be fixed.
While this is inconvenient, it is not the end of the road for your cookware. You will have to do some heavy scrubbing but the rust can be removed.
It is a good idea to have a scrubber made just for cast iron cookware. This can come in very handy not if but when rust occurs.
Knapp Made CM Scrubber – Stainless Steel Chain Mail Scrubber for Cast Iron Cookware
Quality First – The CM Scrubber is handmade of the highest grade food service stainless steel. Each ring is solid and strong, formed with 15 gauge, 316-grade surgical quality stainless steel.
After scrubbing you will need to season your cast iron cookware. This is not a very complicate process. It can also make your cast iron cookware as stick resistant as teflon or any other non-stick cookware.
Lodge Cookware offers the following recommendation for how to season your cast iron cookware: http://www.lodgemfg.com/use-and-care/what-is-seasoning
- Lodge uses soybean oil to season our traditional cast iron and carbon steel cookware. There are no synthetic chemicals added at all.
- The oil is highly refined, and all proteins that cause soy-related allergies are eliminated. The oil contains no animal fat, peanut oil, or paints.
- Some cookware may have slight variations in the seasoning finish. These variations do not affect cooking performance, and typically even out with use.
- All cooking oils and fats can be used for seasoning cast iron, but based on availability, affordability, effectiveness and having a high smoke point, Lodge recommends vegetable oil, melted shortening, or canola oil like our Seasoning Spray.
- Traditionally lard was used to season cast iron, and while that is still okay, we do not recommend it unless you frequently use your cookware. If the cookware is stored for too long, lard and other animal based fats can go rancid.
- It is very important to maintain the seasoning of your cast iron and seasoned steel cookware by applying a very thin layer of oil after each cleaning. This will help keep you cooking for decades. Our Care Kit includes all the basics for routine maintenance.
Tips and Tricks
- If the seasoning on your pan is sticky, this is a sign of excess oil building up and not fully converting to seasoning. To remedy this, place the cookware in the oven, upside down on the top rack and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Allow to cool and repeat if necessary.
- Occasionally when your seasoning works a little too hard with acidic foods or really high heat, you may notice some dark residue on your towel when cleaning. This is perfectly safe and normal, and will go away with regular use and care.
- Some new Lodge cookware can have a small ‘bubble’ on the tip of the handle or on the assist handle, that can chip away and reveal a brownish color underneath. This is not rust. It is a result of our cookware being seasoned on a hanging conveyor, causing a small drip to form at the bottom. If the bubble makes it through our ovens, it is baked on, and the brown underneath is simply oil that has not fully carbonized. It is perfectly safe and will disappear with regular use and care.
Cast Iron Cookware Conclusion
Good quality cast iron cookware can be used by everyone from professional chefs to homemakers to campers.
The durability of cast iron allows you to use your cookware in many different situation that ordinary cookware just could not handle.
Cast iron cookware has been handed down through many generations as a family heirloom.
Flea markets and estate sales often have many cast iron cookware pieces that can be very valuable.
If you are a fan of cast iron, I advise you to keep an eye out for older pieces at these types of sales. Not only can they be brought back to life with a little work, they could be worth a fortune.
If you are not a fan or are undecided about cast iron, give it a try. I can almost guarantee you will love it!