It is no secret that I use cast iron for almost everything. I only use cast iron, glass and stainless steel to cook with. You won’t find any of those “non-stick” things in my house. I was taught how to cook with cast iron from my dad, who learned from his mom and grandma and so on. When I went to college, my dad gave me my first cast iron skillet of my own. It was my great aunt’s 6″ Lodge skillet that was seasoned with generations of love. Ever since then I have been collecting and restoring cast iron skillets, dutch ovens and pots, some of which I have given to my friends in an attempt to convert them to the iron side. I even use cast iron when I’m cooking Hobo Pies 🙂
The first thing you need to do when you are looking at getting cast iron is realize that newer isn’t always better. You can buy new of course, but you can also look at yard and garage sales, thrift stores and flee markets. I’ve gotten some pretty awesome deals this way. Then you need to look at what type of cast iron is going to be for you. There are several different finishes you can get including the traditional all medal, all enameled and a mix of the two with the inside medal exposed and the outside is enameled. I know that in my experience the enamel tends to chip on me and then it just looks bad and I get irritated with it, so I stick with the traditional; but if you are a bit easier on your cookware maybe enameled will be best for you.
After you have decided what type of cast iron you want to go with, then you have to look at brands. I know that most places you look with tell you that you need to have Griswold, and they are the best but I feel too expensive due to their collectability, but there are also other good American brands like Wagner Ware and Lodge (most of what I have is Lodge). I, being the daughter of a steel worker, prefer American made cast irons as opposed to the cheaper stuff you can get from China and other countries. The quality of the newer iron used in the cookware made overseas tends to be less and it is harder to take care of, but please do your own research on your own and make the decision for your self.
Next, check out this video about how to restore cast iron, even if you think it’s too gone. My husband and I found a skillet that was all pitted and rusted, but we bought it and were able to restore it. It still has small pits in the bottom of the cooking surface, but we keep it well seasoned and it is one of my favorite skillets now; so don’t just dismiss something because it looks bad. The video says “skillet”, but this method works for all cast iron products.
The last thing you do before you start cooking is to see my Cast Iron Care for Beginners post for your everyday care needs. Don’t worry…I use soap 😮 …I know, I know, but trust me it works. I hope that this will help you to see that cast iron is no big deal to care for and that if you have some laying around that you got from an old family member you can almost feel them there as you cook. I love cast iron!