You cannot realize the importance of a good pan until you have one. All these cooking problems that you’re struggling with now may seem normal to you, but with the right cast iron pans, you could actually reduce them significantly.
A skillet is a shallow, flat-bottomed pan with flared sides that can stand up to high heat which makes it a perfect piece of cookware for frying, searing, roasting, and more. The right one can become your best friend for a lifetime.
However, it’s not an easy task to find it, especially if you’re new to the cookware market and you’re not sure what you’re looking for. So what should you take into consideration while choosing an iron skillet?
Types of iron skillets
There isn’t only one type of a cast iron pan – it just couldn’t be that easy. When you start your research, you will see that you can find basically three main types: antiques, modern rough surface and modern smooth surface cast iron skillets.
Many people claim that you can’t find anything better than the antique. Companies used to make iron pans thinner, lighter and smoother than they do it today, thus the antiques are more enjoyable to use. It’s not the case with the modern ones anymore, because, in the old days, pans were manufactured with the use of fine-grained sand that caused lung damage to foundry workers.
However, there are many of them still in circulation, so if you can afford it, it’s definitely worth buying. Be careful, though, and try to avoid pans that are damaged by rust (minor rust can be dealt with, but major rust damage is irreversible), cracked or bowed in any direction.
Since they’re not manufactured in the same way, they behave differently as well.
- Modern rough surface – e.g. Lodge – they are ideal for searing and braising. Iron is able to maintain even the highest temperatures for a long time so there’s no risk of any fluctuations. Unfortunately, it also means that it can be hard or impossible to use these kinds of skillets for fine temperature control cooking. The rough surface is also more sticking.
- Modern smooth surface – e.g. Finex – they are also great for searing and braising, but, thanks to the smooth surface, they are perfect for searing delicate products like fish or scallops without many problems. It’s not 100% non-stick surface, but it’s more so than the rough one. They tend to be lighter as well.
What to consider?
- Weight – whether it’s a new pan or a used one, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it’s important to choose a skillet that will meet all your needs and expectations. Iron cookware tend to be even extremely heavy and while it’s sometimes true that the heavier the pan, the better it is, it’s not always the case. You should know your own limitations to avoid struggling in the future. However, if you’ve never cooked with iron cookware before, you will probably have to get used to the weight anyway.
- Handle and knobs – it’s something that you shouldn’t forget, especially considering the weight of iron cookware. It’s always more or less heavy so it’s important that it’s also quite easy to maneuver. What’s more, you need to choose a pan with a handle that doesn’t take the heat in; otherwise, you will get burned every time you cook. Bigger pieces of cookware should have handles on both sides and both of them should be covered with heat-resistant material.
- Cost – it’s essential to do thorough research because a cheaper pan is not always less effective. Costs of iron skillets can vary from relatively cheap to really expensive. It’s worth investing money in good cookware, as it can last a long time and serve you well, but make sure that you’re not overpaying. Also, consider your needs – maybe you don’t really need the best, the most heat-resistant pan.
It seems like a lot to consider before shopping, but you can be sure that it will all be worth it. A good iron skillet is truly a God-sent and with proper care, it can stay with you for a long, long time.