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Cook It In Cast Iron

Cast Iron Basics:

What is Cast Iron?

Centuries Old, and as Good as Ever

Cast iron is experiencing a renaissance centuries in the making.

What is Cast Iron?

The cast iron manufacturing process originated in China in the sixth century BCE and has barely changed since. Cast-iron skillets are made by pouring molten metal into a sand mold, which is broken apart when the pan cools, allowing the pan to emerge in one piece, handle included. The only major difference in modern manufacturing is that machines are used to partially or fully automate the work of pouring the insanely hot molten metal into the molds—it gets up to over 2,500 degrees at some points in the fabrication process!

Due to its affordability and durability, cast iron was the material of choice for cookware in America until the early 20th century, when aluminum became cheaper and more widely available and subsequently took over as the cookware material of choice. By the end of the 20th century, nonstick skillets had become more common than cast iron in most homes. However, as worrying reports about the effects of chemical nonstick coatings on the environment and our health came to light, more and more cooks returned to the original “green” pan, the cast-iron skillet, as an alternative and rediscovered all the advantages it has to offer. This began a new era in the history of this unique pan.

Pixley Pour Over

This renaissance has also been a visible force in cast iron manufacturing. At one time, there were dozens of American companies making cast-iron cookware, but because of the embrace of new materials in the early 1900s, those numbers dwindled and now there is only one major company producing cast-iron cookware in the United States: Lodge. Many of the pans currently available on the market are made in China. However, in recent years a new wave of American companies has begun producing small, artisanal batches of this classic cookware. Manufacturers in the United States and elsewhere have also experimented with innovative design tweaks to handles, shapes, and coatings in an attempt to modernize the classic bare-bones skillets, all of which has helped to bring this timeless pan firmly into the 21st century.


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Get 120+ recipes and innovative techniques that will earn this humble pan a permanent starring role in your kitchen.

“The book makes the case for cooking in cast iron, including the fact that it is one of the few kitchen tools that get better with age.” 

Houston Chronicle

What About Enameled Cast Iron?

One of the most noticeable changes on the market has been the increasing presence of enameled cast-iron skillets. On an enameled skillet, the rough surface of the pan is cloaked inside and out with the same kind of porcelain coating found on Dutch ovens, and they’re available in a rainbow of colors.

Enamel promises a cast-iron pan with advantages: The glossy coating prevents the metal from rusting or reacting with acidic foods. The coating lets you thoroughly soak and scrub dirty pans with soap—generally taboo with traditional pans since too much soap and soaking will remove the patina, or top layer of seasoning on the cooking surface. While a handful of expensive enameled skillets have been around for years, new models are now appearing at lower prices.