My mother had a cast-iron skillet that she used religiously. I think her appreciation for this skillet came from the fact that it was virtually non-destructible and could be used for most anything from searing to simmering to deep frying.
I now own this skillet and I can honestly say that it is the most practical item in my kitchen. Lifting it is a chore, especially for my wife, but it is a small price to pay for the perfect food that comes out of it every time!
The really cool thing about cast-iron is the “seasoning.” When oil seeps into the surface of the iron over time, it creates a non-stick surface. Not so long ago, we decided to bring in a line of cast-iron to our FRESH housewares department. It is made by Lodge, the largest maker of cast-iron cookware in the United States.
Joseph Lodge opened his first foundry in 1896 and his legacy lives on through his great grandsons who now run the company. They continue to expand plant capacity to keep up with the strong demand for their products.
Lodge actually pre-seasons its cookware at the factory. They bake vegetable oil into the iron at a high temperature versus using a chemical nonstick coating. This process enables use of your cookware for 100 years or more because you are able to maintain and repair the seasoning as needed.
To maintain the seasoning, you simply need to wash out your cookware with hot water and a sponge. Dishwashers, strong detergents and metal scouring pads are not recommended, as they remove seasoning.
Always be sure to dry the cookware completely so that it does not rust, then apply a light coating of oil to restore the sheen. Do not put so much that it creates stickiness on the surface.
Some other basics to follow, per Lodge, are:
• Gas flames should not extend up the sides of cookware.
• Match pan size to burner size.
• Don’t use in the microwave.
• When deep frying, fill cookware only to 1/3 of capacity.
If you are looking for a unique yet perfect gift this year, take my advice and buy some Lodge cast-iron.