Cast Iron Cookware

What is cast iron?

Cast iron is a metal compound comprised of melting of pig iron with iron, carbon, limestone while adding sulphur or phosphorous to it while it is being smelted together. The heat helps to burn off the sulphur or phosphorous but the chemical composition has been changed to make the pig iron into cast iron. Cast iron is often fired in an oven called a cupola or in an electric induction furnace then the iron is poured into what is called a ladle.
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Cast iron was also used for other purposes as well. It was used for ploughshares, weapons, pagodas. It was so versatile and cheaper to make than bronze that it became popular for a large variety of items. Toward the beginning of the Iron Age, Henry VIII ordered his iron workers to make cannons to be placed on the Imperial Navy, this gave the English a decided advantage over their adversaries because the English cannons could handle charges that were heavier and cheaper to make than their opponents could. They were able to inflict more damage in a shorter amount of time giving them a decided edge in battle.

When Cast Iron Cookware became Popular

Cast iron cookware became popular at the beginning of the 18th century, when Abraham Darby found a method where he could cast pots thinner than any of his competitors. His pots came in a variety of sizes from the small pot that we now call a sauce pan up to a cauldron but the most popular was the tri-legged pot that could either be suspended from the hearth or could be placed directly on the fire. The pot was often left there suspended to let the meal simmer to allow the ingredients to blend together mostly into a stew. This allowed for ease of use when it was pulled from the fire to serve the meal. One item that made it very easy to pull pots and cauldrons from the fire was the use of the iron hook. There was also the shovel designed for the fireplace(hearth) and the poker used the move the logs around to keep the fire burning at a specific height or to dampen the fire for the night or when leaving the house for the day.

Advantages of Cast Iron Cookware

Some of the advantages of cast iron cookware is its ability to heat evenly throughout the entire pot, pan or oven.The American Dietic Association has done some research on the use of cast iron cookware and found that for those people who suffer from iron defiency that cast iron cookware was beneficial to them since iron was leached from the pot and cooked into the food. This lead to the introduction of the “iron fish” that were placed either in tea kettles or into cooking pots to increase the amount of iron that was absorbed into the food.They also found that those people who suffered from too much iron in their blood should avoid the use of cast iron cookware.
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Seasoning Your Cast Iron Cookware

Before you begin to use your cast iron cookware, there is one step that you ABSOLUTELY do. You must season your cookware before you use it. To SEASON your cookware you must coat the inside of your cookware with vegetable oil or animal fat(lard) then cook your cookware. Let your cookware cool then, wash your cookware with HOT water and a strong detergent to clean all of the seasoning oil off the surface. Once you have done this, you must dry the inside of the cookware. Once again, apply a light coating of vegetable oil to the inside of the cookware and place in the oven with the open side up. Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 30 minutes for the seasoning to occur. This makes your cookware nonstick and helps to retard rust from occurring. Some of cast iron pots and pans come already seasoned. Always check to see what the manufacturers warranty states. DO NOT DO ANYTHING THAT VOIDS THE MANUFACTURERS WARRANTY.

Some the More Popular Cookware Pieces and Companies

These are some of the most popular cast iron cookware pieces that I have found: skillet, dutch oven, griddle, grill. These all come in a variety of sizes and colors. My personal favorites are the griddle and the medium pan with lid. I find that for 2 people these are the best sizes to use. Some companies that supply cast iron cookware are as follows: Lodge, Griswold, Vollrath, Wagner Ware, Favorite, Atlanta, Stove Works, Wapak, Le Creuset. Some of these are also made with an enamel coating.


Here are a couple of recipes that I have already used.

Pork Chops serves 4

4 center cut pork chops (bone-in)

1 small green or red sweet pepper

1 small onion cut lengthwise

6 potatoes diced
salt and pepper to taste

Old Bay Seasoning

10 inch cast iron pan with lid(10 skillet)
vegetable oil

chicken stock

heat your pan for about 10 minutes on the grill (roughly 275 degrees F)
coat the pork chops with the Old Bay Seasoning

pour enough vegetable oil in your pan to coat the bottom and allow it to heat completely

sear 2 pork chops on both sides setting them aside in the lid to keep warm

sear the other 2 pork chops setting aside

place your potatoes and vegetables in the bottom of the pan

salt and pepper to taste

place your pork chops on top of the vegetables and pour chicken stock in(3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup) no more than 1/4 cup or you will have boiled potatoes not steamed. Cover pot with lid.

Place on direct heat for about 45 minutes then check doneness of potatoes

if the potatoes are not done place on indirect heat for about 15 minutes.

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Tools for Grilling

The tools  for grilling have basically remained the same for thousands of years. In the beginning, the tools used were a sharpened stick that would have been partially or completely pushed through the carcass. The carcass would have most likely been laid on stone near the fire to cook. There would have been a stone knife used to cut the carcass into pieces after it had finished cooking. There may have been a crude bowl filled with aromatic herbs and spices used to pour a mixture over the carcass before and during cooking thus enhancing the flavor of the meat.

The Advancement of Tools

When mankind found that different stones(what we now call ore) could be melted and formed into a variety of different tools and weapons, cooking tools were among those created. He found that instead of a stone knife that one made from metal was far superior and could be used longer. He also made spoons, basically a length of metal that had one end flattened and part of the flat end had a depression in it that became the spoon. He made a skewer that would go all the way through a large animal that was cooked over a pit of hot coals for several days. Hooks were often used that could be placed on lengths of metal next to the fire which could hold ceramic bowls that were used to cook at lower temperatures than over the fire. Ladles were another tool which was used in cooking. Among some of the other tools made were the ash box, the chimney, and the shovel for the grilling area.

How the Iron Age Revolutionized ToolsGrilled Vegetables, Grilled, Grilling

The Iron Age truly brought about changes in tool manufacture. Now there was a metal available that was not only harder but

was able to keep its shape longer. Brass, bronze and copper are soft metals that lose their shape and use much easier than iron. Also, iron was not as toxic as the aforementioned metals. With the advent of iron, the manufacture of tools was easier and the availability of the ore was more abundant. Craftsman were able to size tools down without losing the tools effectiveness of the tool. Now that iron is on the scene, craftsman were refining what would one day become household items into the forms that we still use today.

Cast iron cookware became popular and is still popular today for the grilling and camping enthusiast.
Some of the most popular cast iron cookware are the Dutch Oven, Griddle, and Skillet. Each of these can be used in the home or at the campsite. An example of using the Dutch Oven is to make bread. Put all of your ingredients together in the pot, cover the pot with hot coals and leave for the desired length of time for the bread or sweet treat to cook the rake the coals off to check for how well your bread cooked. If you have done everything right you will be amazed by the quality of your bread, you can easily become addicted by it. I normally use the Jiffy mix. Some people say that the only thing you can use a griddle for is frying bacon. I have used it for pancakes, hash browns, and fried potatoes. I place my griddle on two flat rocks next to a campfire(can be done on a grill as well) and do my cooking there. I also leave a spot for my coffee pot. Now I will admit, usi

ng a skillet is much easier than a griddle. A skillet is much deeper than a griddle but not as deep as a dutch oven and it is not as long as a griddle. A skillet depending upon its size can offer a variety of cooking methods. It can fry, boil, simmer(very slow boil) and bake, depending upon what the food is.

Variety of Tools for Grilling

There are a variety of tools available today to the modern grillmaster. These tools are available from a variety of places. From your local grocer to large chain stores not to mention all the websites that offer tools in a range of style, color and price. Some of the tools are tongs ranging in price from $10.00 to $150. Spatulas that range from $8.00 to $50.00. Grills that range from $50.00 to thousands of dollars. Grills come in all shapes and sizes. It all depends upon what your tastes are and the size of your bank account. These prices do not account for the custom-made tools. Plus you have a variety of cookbooks available to you as well. There are videos on how to as well.

The Importance of knowing the History of Grilling

Ordinarily I do not care that much about history but, I found that once I started learning about the history of grilling I began to understand why we cooked the way we do. The use of modern cooking devices has made it more convenient to cook than we have ever had in the past but, we have lost almost lost the art of cooking the way we have cooked for centuries. That just made me more passionate for grilling and I will never give it up. The thrill and joy for grilling is something that I am trying to share will everyone. Everyone should be able to grill since it is human birthright. Grilling, barbecuing or roasting give us the flavors and textures that for the most part have been lost to the modern man because of the convenience of using modern cooking techniques for the sake of saving time. When you grill today you are actually rewarding yourself, family and/or guests with the flavors, smell, taste, and camaraderie
that otherwise have been lost. They become postmarks in time. Times of love, laughter, closeness and a longing for the days when you will be together again. Grilling gives you a unique opportunity to pass on your heritage to not only your children but to your grandchildren as well. The oneness that you gain with family and friends is a bond that cannot be broken easily.

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