If someone had told me a few years ago that I would soon be cooking with cast iron skillets, I would have looked at them askance. Me? Using a heavy, grungy, cast iron skillet like my grandma? No way! But today I am proudly pontificating about the merits of cast iron cookware.
Maybe I was watching too many of those television cooking shows where the chef throws a well-seasoned chicken breast into a sizzling pan. A few minutes later, he removes it effortlessly, showing a juicy piece of poultry with appetizing grill marks. So one afternoon, in a moment of insanity, I logged onto amazon and carted away a Lodge cast iron skillet.
Apparently, I am not the only one intrigued by cast iron. Statistics show that sales of cast iron, which is practical, affordable and an all around workhorse – saw a 27 percent spike in sales last year, compared to losses of 4 percent and more in other categories of cookware and bake ware.
Why Are Cast Iron Skillets So Popular Now?
“Although cast iron is still a small segment of the bakeware and cookware categories, it gets most of the credit for helping keep these categories healthier,” said Peter Goldman, president of NPD’s Home Industry sector. “Today, cast iron is being offered at many price points, from more economical private label options to higher-end products endorsed by celebrity chefs – they also offer convenience because they can go from the oven to the table to the refrigerator, without any concern.”
How to Get a Deal on Cast Iron Skillets?
So it looks like cast iron is making a comeback. Part of it may be because more people are cooking at home and cast iron is inexpensive and durable. It performs magic in the kitchen, with good conductivity and even, consistent heating. When cared for properly, it can last for years, if not generations. Some of the best deals on cast iron are at thrift stores, yard sales and consignment shops, in case you can’t find one in your attic. With a little bit of cleaning, you can make it good as new. (In fact, the more you use cast iron, the better it becomes). If you want to get a deal on Cast Iron Skillets, you can do a few things:
- Wait until Black Friday – most stores will have great deals and coupons on cast iron skillets
- Wait until Amazon Prime Day – no need to leave the house, free delivery and great discounts on cast iron skillets
- Check out garage and yard sales – even the rustiest cast iron can usually be brought back to life
- Subscribe to the Lodge newsletter – they usually send you a 15% off coupon for signing up
Why else are cast iron skillets so good
Cast iron, I discovered, is the old-fashioned and original fat-free cooking method. Properly seasoned cast iron skillets are naturally nonstick and require no additional oil or butter. (By the way, seasoning a pan means coating the surface with a very thin layer of oil or grease.)
Many chefs consider cast iron precision cooking tools. Because of their versatility, they truly are kitchen wonders. The original “natural” cookware, investing in cast iron will give those concerned about their shedding nonstick coatings a reason to get rid of their Teflon or Silverstone sets.
The Best Cast Iron Skillet Brands
Lodge: It is by far the best for the money $40
Le Creuset: Our choice if you want something that is both functional and gorgeous $120
Zelancio: A newcomer to the scene. Pretty & practical, but requires a tad more care $40
Calphalon: Their ribbed cast iron is fab for making steaks $30
How to care for cast iron skillets?
Caring for cast iron is easy, but there are a few important things to remember. Hand wash all pots and pans with a little bit of mild soap and a nylon brush and then dry thoroughly. Reapply a thin coating of vegetable oil to the surface before storing. Never put cast iron in the dishwasher and always use potholders or oven mitts. Cast iron gets very hot!
Since buying my first grill pan, I’ve added numerous cast iron pieces to my collection and have experimented with dozens of recipes with great success. I just wonder why it took me so long to discover the virtues of cast iron. My grandma really did know best!