Are you tired of flimsy pans and dangerous Teflon? Does your stainless steel skillet burn your food? Read on to discover the wonder of cast iron. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good idea what is the best cast iron cookware set for you personally.
Rookie cooks have so much to learn.
It seems so long ago: my soon-to-be husband and I were on a giddy date to the store to register for wedding gifts. We timidly headed for the kitchen section, registry scanner in hand, and randomly selected a few generic pots and pans, too embarrassed to ask our friends for anything that was very expensive.
After the wedding, as I opened my super-light – and super cheap – aluminum cookware set, I was so blissfully happy I didn’t mind the wobbly handle or the fact that the pans were about as cheaply made as I have ever seen. I was in love. I was in charge of this kitchen. I would be a superstar.
A few gifts later, I unwrapped a huge Lodge cast iron skillet. After glancing over the label that listed all the things I’d have to do before using it, I stowed it under the oven and decided I could make do with my el cheapos. Surely cast iron was overrated. It was definitely too heavy, I thought.
Oh, the ignorance of youth.
Whether you are one of the innocents who believes that anything that must be seasoned or requires muscles is too much work, let me share. After a year of burnt-black dinners, I finally dug out the under-appreciated skillet.
I smeared it with oil; no big deal. I set it in the oven at 350°F; I let it bake for an hour or so.
No big deal.
And then I began cooking with it.
Let me tell you: the difference was bigger than going from eating slimy, canned asparagus to crisp, fresh asparagus. It was like going from eating mud pies to chocolate caramel turtle pies.
Now, so many years wiser, I can tell you for sure: if you’re looking for a durable cooking surface that will make your food taste the very best it possibly can, cast iron is what you’ve been seeking. It gives biscuits that buttery resistance that protects that feather-soft inner biscuit. It makes the perfect bacon that’s neither brittle or limp. It makes eggs that are perfectly light, not at all rubbery or runny.
You can cook almost anything in cast iron; some say to avoid using it with tomato or other acidic foods as the iron can darken the food. Actually, that’s just another great reason to use the cast iron. Many people who struggle with iron deficiency will cook tomatoes in their cast iron skillet for the express purpose of ingesting that iron. Unlike aluminum, iron is a necessary mineral, and cooking in cast iron affords us an easy way to enjoy more iron in our diets.
Once a cast iron pan has been properly seasoned, it’s as nonstick as Teflon, only with none of the health risks. Teflon and aluminum pans may seem like a good deal, but the health problems they can cause aren’t worth the few dollars you save.
Cast iron becomes more non-stick the longer it’s properly used, and as the seasoning develops, the pan actually transmits an almost-imperceptible richness of flavor.
Another benefit of cast iron is its versatility. What other pan cooks equally as awesome whether it’s on the stovetop, in the oven, or over an open campfire?0 I can’t think of a single on better than cast iron.
Cast iron pans have been cherished for hundreds of years. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy a skillet that lasts the rest of your life. Many families enjoy cast iron cookware that’s been handed down from generation to generation.
If you’ve been thinking it’s time to get started on your expedition into the world of cast iron cookware, we’ve gone ahead and found five cast iron cookware sets that we think you’ll adore.
What Can You Expect When You Purchase Cast Iron?
Depending on the price, your cast iron purchase can be a light gray, porous pan like my wedding gift that required pre-seasoning; in some cases, the skillets come pre-seasoned. Still, they’ll benefit by undergoing a bit more seasoning. Especially if your skillet hasn’t been pre-seasoned, never skip the seasoning. Skillets that are well seasoned are as impressively non-stick as unseasoned skillets hold to cooked-on food tenaciously.
What are the different types of cast iron pans?
Although through the years cast iron manufacturers have gotten plenty creative in their cast iron molds, there are three main types of cast iron pans. They are:
•Perfect for frying or sauteéing
•Great for browning ground beed
•Can be used over a campfire
•Great for burgers or pancakes
•Are often reversible
•Rectangular models won’t work on glasstop stoves
•Great for stews
•Perfect for camp cookery
•Can be unwieldy
Enameled Cast Iron: The Elite of the Cast Iron Realm
Another, even more quality form of cast iron is enameled cast iron. Among other things, it’s:
•Doesn’t require seasoning
Here’s a few of the best cast iron cookware sets. We believe any of these could transform your meals.
1. Skillet Set – Pre Seasoned 3 Piece Cast Iron set – 6.5, 8, 10.5 Inches By Old Mountain
Set Contains: Three Cast Iron Skillets: one 6.5-inches, one 8-inches, one 10.5-inches.
Set Contains: Two cast iron skillets, one cast iron Dutch broiler, one cast iron frying pan, one cast iron lid.
This pre-seasoned set offers strength and durability. While the pots aren’t the largest, they’ll definitely serve a small family. You’ll love the even heating and dependable browning and searing.
3. Lodge L5HS3 5-Piece Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Cookware Set
Set Contains: 10.5-inch round griddle, 8-inch skillet, 10.25-inch skillet, 5-quart Dutch oven, 10.25-inch iron cover
Sometimes, a trusted name makes the extra money worth it. Such is the case with Lodge cast iron cookware. This set is perfect for almost any recipe, and the Lodge quality offers you a smooth shine that can last for a century. You’ll also love the comprehensive cast iron education the Lodge brand offers online.
4. Le Chef 6 Piece Enameled Cast Iron Red Cookware Set
Set Contains: 6-quart round Dutch oven, 1 3/4-quart round Dutch oven, 10-inch round deep skillet, 11-inch rectuangular roasting dish
This cherry-red enameled cookware far outshines the plain black of the typical cast iron. Although the price tag is also noteworthy, you’ll love the beauty of this heavy cookware set for years to come.
5. Le Creuset MM14AM24-59 24-Piece Cookware Set, Marseille
Price: $$$$ Set Contains: 4.5-quart round French oven, 9-inch skillet, 1.75-quart saucepan, Enamel-on-Steel 8-quart stockpot, stoneware 4-quart covered oval casserole, (4) stoneware 8oz. round coquettes, Mini Coquette Cookbook, 6-piece utensil set
Le Creuset is the king of enameled cast iron, and the price tag proves it. Although the heat distribution is excellent in almost all cast iron pans, there’s something about food being as much a pleasure to the eye as the palate that makes it understandable why Le Creuset is so very successful. Food that looks so good deserves to be eaten.
As you shop for the best cast iron cookware set, take your time and determine what your goals are for the pans. Do you want something rustic to hang on the wall? Do you simply want to make great food? Are you looking for a pan that will work on camping trips? Do you need stellar presentation for food blogging or photography? Depending on what your goals are, you might want to save up and buy one of the enameled sets. Regardless which you choose, remember to eat the food you prepare on the best cast iron cookware you can find – with thankfulness.
After all, a thankful attitude makes anything taste better.