A while back we had a customer looking around at all the wonderful culinary things we had, and then he saw the Lodge Manufacturing rack filled with cast iron cookware. “I’m surprised a store like yours carries cast iron!” he said. My reply was “How can you be a serious cooking store and NOT carry cast iron?”
Cast iron has been around for hundreds of years, and some of our customers have inherited pans from their family that are almost that old! And it has survived that long for a reason.
Cast iron is slow to heat up, but once it is hot, it stays hot. This makes it great for long slow cooking, like soups and stews and also for searing and frying, all techniques where you want to maintain constant temperatures.
Cast iron pots come two ways, coated and uncoated. Uncoated cast iron is inexpensive, but it requires some maintenance to keep it from rusting (see below). If maintained properly, it will be virtually non-stick and last a lifetime. Enamel-coated cast iron is much easier to maintain, but the enamel-coating manufacturing process is a difficult one, and that is reflected in its price. We carry Lodge (uncoated) cast iron made in America, and Le Creuset enameled cast iron, made in France. Whichever way you go, you will have invested in cookware that can last generations!
Lodge cast iron pans are pre-seasoned and, with a little care, you can keep them that way. We recommend that you avoid soap and soaking. You can use water and a sponge or brush to clean your pan, then rinse and dry it thoroughly. If you want to go a step further, after rinsing and drying with a towel you can heat it on the stove for a few minutes to really dry it out. After it cools off, you can apply a small amount of mineral oil to help protect it.
For those stuck-on bits, we recommend the Knapp Chain Mail Scrubber because it scrubs away baked on food without soap and without damaging the seasoning you worked so hard to maintain! Recommended by Cook’s Illustrated, it just takes a little elbow grease. Wash, scrub, dry and rub with oil. Done.
You may find yourself needing to re-season your cast iron pan from time to time. Exposure to the elements, soaking in water for too long, or use of kitchen soap will deteriorate the seasoning and can cause the iron to rust. If this happens to you, don’t panic; almost all cast-iron is salvageable. Check out this great video from Lodge for a simple technique!
As we on the Coastside know, rust can develop over time, and if that happens, just go ahead and have at it with some steel wool, wash and re-season as above.