An Introduction to Cast Iron Cookware
Photo Credit: Skeppshult
Whether it’s buttery soft leather or knicked steel there’s something special about items that tell a story. When it comes to the kitchen, there’s no better story told in patina than on a cast iron pan.
Cast iron has been around for centuries. Developed in 6th Century China, BCE, it was made from pouring melted steel into casts crafted from sandstone. Though some of the machinery used to melt and pour the steel has been modernized over the years, the process of creating cast iron has largely remained the same. In fact, each of the brands featured on Kaufmann Mercantile, that produce the cast iron, from Le Creuset to Skeppshult and our own Turk Pans, all have craftsmen and women putting their hands on each piece throughout the many steps of production. Once the cast iron pan travels from their hands to yours, the pan’s transformation continues.
Photo Credit: Skeppshult
One of the ultimate benefits of cast iron cookware is the process of bonding fine layers of oil from cooking with the metal of the piece, called seasoning. As the pan becomes more seasoned, it naturally gains the properties of a more modern non-stick pan without the potential danger of harmful chemicals that some cheaper, modern aluminum pans contain.
11" Grill Pan from Skeppshult, $205
This seasoning process is rewarding as it makes the pan better with every use, but it comes with some additional maintenance. Before using your pan for the first time, give it a light rub with a cooking oil, such as canola oil. After use, wash by hand with hot water and, most importantly, without dish soap. Dish soap will strip away the seasoning you’ve worked to add and might increase the risk of rusting. Likewise, avoid the dishwasher. Immediately after rinsing the pan, dry it and apply a thin layer of canola oil. The pan can then be set on the stove on high heat to dry more effectively. After 10-15 minutes the oil will be bonded with the cast iron, and your pan will be ready for action!
6.75 Qt Signature Dutch Oven from Le Creuset, Now $250 (Was $380)
Le Creuset found a way to make the process of caring for cast iron cookware even simpler. By coating their cast iron pans and dutch ovens with enamel after the initial casting process. Their products, such as the grill pans, are safe to use dish soap on. After using the pan, just allow it to cool slightly and place it in a sink and rinse away any large pieces of food. Then fill the pan with about half an inch of water and a few drops of mild dish soap and gently scrub with a nonabrasive sponge or brush. After drying the pan thoroughly it is ready to be stored. Like the Skeppshult or Turk pans, enameled pans from Le Creuset will still develop a patina over their surface and will gain that coveted look of heavy use that tells your culinary story.
Double-Handle Criss-Cross Turk Pan from Kaufmann Mercantile, $129
Think of these extra maintenance steps as a meditative daily ritual that makes their use even more special. After all, these steps are worth it for the properties that cast iron pans offers such as maintaining a high heat that makes them ideal for searing anything from thick hanger steaks to slabs of fresh ahi tuna.
Whether you choose a more traditional cast iron option from Skeppshult, a modern enameled option from Le Creuset, or one of our own hand forged Turk Pans, cast iron cookware is sure to become a valued friend in your kitchen.
Shop ALL Cast Iron Cookware.
Note: Le Creuset product ships within the continental U.S. only. International shipping is not available at this time. Learn more about our shipping and returns policy here.
Written by Connor Roe. With source credits from Le Creuset, America's Test Kitchen & Skeppshult.
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