Join Date: Aug 2004
There are definite differences in cast iron quality. Unfortunatley, the high-end (read that as high quality) pans quit being made in the 1950's. The brand name was Griswold. They can be found in thrift stores, and garage sales, as people generally don't understand the quality of the pans, and are fairly uneducated about how versatile, useful, and durable cast iron is.
The Lodge pans you find in every hardware store, and big box store are good pans. They work well, and when seasoned, are nearly as slippery as the best non-stick, but unlike non-stick, will last a few lifetimes. Unfortunately, they are heavy. I have seasoned my pans, both in the oven, and on the charcoal grill. I purchased all of my pans before pre-seasoned pans were available.
From watching others though, the pre-seasoned pans need more seasoning to make them perform well.
Maybe a little information might help you. Seasoning refers to a patina of oil that is baked into the base metal (cast iron), that serves to separate the metal from contact with air, and all other substances. It forms a hermetic seal. This protects the metal, keeps acidic, or alkali food from attacking the metal, protects against oxidation, and prevents the metal ions from leaching into foods, giving them a metallic taste. It also make the pan's cooking surface very slick, and virtually stick free.
The seasoning is durable, and if damaged, can be re-applied by simply reheating the pan to bake more oil into it. Teflon, and other non-stick surfaces, when damaged, can't be repaired. The pan becomes worthless.
Disadvantages of cast iron include poor thermal conductivity, heavy, slow to react to temperature changes, hot spots in the pan.
Advantages - very durable, nearly stick free, when seasoned and used properly, oven proof, fire proof, barbecue proof, can be used on any kind of stove, over any kind of fire, great thermal mass, best for getting very hot to sear meat, pan fry chicken, and other such uses, great for making sauces, stews etc., very good versatility, inexpensive.
I believe that I am not alone when I state that cast iron gives you the most value for the dollar.
So, go ahead and season your pan a bit more, or cook some fatty emat in it, such as bacon, hamburger, a couple of pork chops, or fry some french fries in oil. When done, was under hot water with a plastic brush to remove any food debris. Whipe in out with a paper towel, and rub a tsp. of oil onto the inside surface. Put in away until your ready to use it again.
Once you get used to it, your cast iron pots and pans will become your go-to cooking vessels.
Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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