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Friday Favorite: Cast Iron

December 31st, 2010

It’s no secret that I love cast iron, you’ve probably noticed that it crops up in many of my cooking photos. I use old Griswold cast iron skillet more than any other piece of cookware I own. I cook anything and everything in it!

I also have cast iron bread pans and a cast iron pizza pan that gets used as a skillet on the stove top and as a cookie sheet in the oven, along with a collection of smaller skillets and one very small dutch oven.

One of the reasons I love cast iron is that it’s durable, it will last you the rest of your life and you can pass it on to future generations. The skillet you see below, was left by the old man my parents bought they’re first home off of. It’s a Griswold and is at least twice as old as I am.

Cast iron cookware also cooks like a dream. If you keep the skillet properly seasoned you just can’t beat the way it cooks an egg, mushrooms, or a steak. It’s also a healthy option for cooking, because it’s not adding weird chemicals into your food like non-stick and another kinds of cookware does. You want to make sure you buy vintage cast iron or cookware that’s made by a reputable company if you’re buying new otherwise you may not be getting great quality.

The newest additions to my cast iron collection are a few Staub enameled dutch ovens Staub enameled dutch ovens Mr Chiots got me for Christmas. I must admit, they’re as great as I expected. I think they’ll quickly make my stainless steel pots jealous.

Are you a cast iron cookware lover?

58 Comments to “Friday Favorite: Cast Iron”
  1. Nebraska Dave on December 31, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Cast Iron cooking is great. I bought my first set back in the early 70s. I’m still using them today and they are just as good when I bought them. I added pieces to the set through the year from garage sales and relatives that didn’t want them any more. Their loss my gain. As you say they will last for ever and could be passed down through the generations. I’ve been looking at those coated cast iron cooking pans too. They are a bit pricy for me and I know enamel used to chip but I expect that may not be an issue in today’s technological world.

    Have a great cast iron day..

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • Susy on December 31, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Yes, they have come a long way. I’d recommend the Staub brand, made with great quality in France. I had a cheap one from China that chipped, but the difference in quality between that one and the Staub is amazing!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • annie on December 31, 2010 at 7:00 pm

        I have a Lodge enameled dutch oven which has chipped terribly, almost from the beginning too. Next time I’ll do Staub.

        to annie's comment

      • Dawn on December 31, 2010 at 10:08 pm

        I only cook with cast iron. There’s just nothing better for holding heat and you can always count on them to bake a mean boule of country bread. They are plenty heavy though (tough on the wrist action) so I store my ever growing collection on a bakers rack in my kitchen for quick retrieval. No more stooping to grab a skillet or dutch oven.

        Oddly enough, I was just lusting after the Staub Mini Round Cocottes today. I noticed that Williams Sonoma had a set of three 1/4 qt. Cocottes on special for under a $100. Very tempting! Also on the W-S website, an informative video shot at the Staub plant in France demonstrating construction of the pots.They really know how to reel in the cast iron devotees like me.

        to Dawn's comment

      • Dawn on December 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm

        Oops, I just saw that Staub link in Suzy’s post. She links to Amazon who also sells at $99. And… they have free shipping. Better deal.

        to Dawn's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on December 31, 2010 at 7:28 am

    OH YES. Blackrock comes with a set of cast iron pans that were a wedding present to my husband’s grandmother in 1928. They’re as non-stick as non-Teflon gets and I LOVE THEM.

    I must admit to wanting some more enameled cast iron, though, especially a big oval casserole. Maybe next Christmas . . .

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  3. Christine McCormick on December 31, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I love cast iron, but cleaning it can be a pain sometimes. We have two dutch ovens that we cook with in our fire pit, and it’s super super yummy. I love dutch-oven pineapple upside down cake!

    Reply to Christine McCormick's comment

    • Susy on December 31, 2010 at 9:35 am

      I find that a Copper Scouring Pads< comes in quite handy for baked on gunk in cast iron, scrub lightly though to not ruin the finish. Generally I boil water in mine and it comes right clean.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Richard Kolkovich on December 31, 2010 at 12:56 pm

        I almost never have issues cleaning mine that water can’t deal with. An excellent solvent, water; sometimes it just takes a bit of soaking, but it always gets the gunk out.

        I’ve said that I would take my 10″ cast iron skilleelsf I were stuck on a desert island with nothing else. It was given to me by my dad, and it is still my favorite to this day!

        to Richard Kolkovich's comment

  4. Cannedquilter on December 31, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Like you I love my cast iron also. I have many old pieces from various family members including both my late mother and mother in law. I do not own any of the new enameled cast iron but am wanting to try it!

    Reply to Cannedquilter's comment

    • Susy on December 31, 2010 at 9:30 am

      The enameled cast iron is very very nice. I’d recommend saving up and buying Staub, they’re still made in France and are great quality. Many of the other brands are now made in China, like Lodge. I believe Le Creuset is still made in France as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Johua on December 31, 2010 at 3:46 pm


        For what it’s worth, I believe it’s only the enameled cast iron that’s made in China. The non-enameled stuff is still made right here in Tennessee, just an hour or so from my house. Ohhh to be so lucky as to live near a Lodge factory store.

        to Johua's comment

  5. Pammie on December 31, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Thanks for this reminder about cast iron cooking, which is common here in the Southern USA. I have several skillets passed on to me from my grandmother and mother, and enjoy using them every day. One of my favorite uses is to bake cornbread. Heat the skillet in the oven with just a little oil while mixing the batter, pour the batter into the hot skillet and it makes for a wonderful brown and crunchy crust.

    I’ve learned that dish detergent isn’t good for cast iron, only a few drops if absolutely necessary and, of course, never put them in the dishwasher. I have a little plastic scraper-type cleaner that I use when having trouble getting little bits of food off. Remember to dry thoroughly after washing.

    Reply to Pammie's comment

  6. Throwback at Trapper Creek on December 31, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I love my cast iron! I inherited mine and we have added many more Griswold pieces as well. Ours never leave our cookstove.

    I am drooling over your new enameled pots. :)

    Reply to Throwback at Trapper Creek's comment

  7. Denise on December 31, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I just got my first cast iron pan – I hope to add so my collection looks like yours!!

    Reply to Denise's comment

  8. Seren Dippity on December 31, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I love cast iron. I never heard of the Griswold brand though. Most of mine is Lodge Brand and a couple of them are several generations old. I didn’t realize they were now made in China, but I have never actually bought a _new_ one before!

    I have been having kitchen envy over your awesome pizza pan, and came close to getting one with my christmas gift cards. Decided not to because I have a good stoneware pizza pan and couldn’t justify it, but it is still on my wish list!

    Cast Iron is becoming trendy and I’ve noticed that many of the celebrity chefs are coming out with lines made of cast iron. A couple of years ago we received a Mario Batali enameled cast iron lasagna pan that although beautiful is so darned heavy it is practically unusable. Yesterday at BedBath&Beyond I saw a set of just plain cast iron skillets branded by Emeril Lagasse and the 10″ skillet weight at least 3 times the weight of my trusty Lodge 10″ skillet. What’s up with that? I could not lift it one handed even empty!!

    I do love the Le Creuset line! I so want a collection of those in mixed colors. The bright cheery colors are so beautiful. AND they are well made. I have an old white Le Creuset roaster that I inherited from a friend who got it from her grandmother!

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

  9. Kathryn on December 31, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    I have some great cast iron from my hubby’s grandma. I also bought one of the cornbread thingies that make your cornbread look like it is an ear of corn. Not easy to clean, so far, tho.

    When i began learning about healthy living, i got rid of all our non-stick stuff. I decided that the old corningware was my preference. I’m very pleased with it. I cook with that or glass, mostly, tho i do have some stoneware cookie sheets.

    Reply to Kathryn's comment

  10. Dave on December 31, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Cast iron is awesome! We cook a tone of stuff in ours. Bacon in the morning followed by cornbread is a favorite combo. Chicken Fajitas/stir-fry also comes to mind. We’re definitely fans!

    Reply to Dave's comment

  11. Morgan G on December 31, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I am saving up to switch out our Teflon for cast iron. I have read so many articles about the uncertainty of the health risks associated with the PFC family of chemicals used in making Teflon and other types of pots and pans non-stick. Absolutely not worth it, plus, as you prove, the cast iron family makes the food look so lovely!

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

  12. Michelle on December 31, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I have a brand new cast-iron skillet that I have never used! I’m too intimidated for some reason…like I don’t want to ruin it! Maybe I’ll add that to my 2011 List…”use cast-iron”. Not a bad idea… :)

    Reply to Michelle's comment

    • Johua on December 31, 2010 at 3:53 pm


      Don’t be afraid of cast iron. It is ultimately redeemable. Once, my girlfriend took my 6″ cast iron pan and my 12″ square griddle on a canoe camping trip. Long story short, they both got dropped into the river. The current was so fast that she and her friend had to take turns wading up-river, then diving down as fast as they could and trying to grab the cookware as the current carried them past. The pans were eventually retrieved, but when they got back from the trip, they were absolutely covered in rust.

      Here are two ways that you can save cast iron from nearly anything that could happen to it:

      1. Submerge in a sink filled with 50/50 water and white vinegar. You may want to cover the sink with something like plastic wrap to save you from the vinegar smell. Let soak for about 24 hours and scrub at the pan to see if the offending material (rust?) comes off. Let soak longer, up to a few days, if necessary.

      2. If the vinegar doesn’t work, or is inconvenient, another method is to simply put the cast iron into the oven and run the self-clean cycle. This presumes, of course, that you have an oven with a self-clean cycle. The self-clean cycle gets so hot that it absolutely burns up most anything. This will remove 100% of the seasoning on the pans, so you will need to start from scratch with seasoning them, but again, it’s probably better than tossing the pan in the garbage.

      Both of these methods are last-ditch approaches, but the bottom line is this: unless it’s cracked or got a hole in it, cast iron is NEVER ruined.

      Reply to Johua's comment

      • Susy on January 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

        Yes, I find that one of those Copper Scouring Pads works wonders if you ever get any rust spots on them (as sometimes happens on the bottoms of the pans). I simply wet, scrub, wipe dry, rub with coconut oil and bake.

        This is what I use on my cast iron: Chore Boy Stainless Steel Scrubbers: 2 Pack

        to Susy's comment

  13. irene on December 31, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I am definitely a cast iron cookware lover! Can’t think of anything better for cooking or baking in. Great post!

    Reply to irene's comment

  14. Emma on December 31, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Okay, one more thing to add to my to-do list for 2010 – getting and using a cast iron pan. Thanks for the inspiration! I can’t help but be excited about trying it out when I look at your beautiful photos.

    Reply to Emma's comment

  15. Emma on December 31, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Or for 2011 rather. =)

    Reply to Emma's comment

  16. Issa on December 31, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I love cast iron, too. I’ve got a few Lodge skillets, although I’m completely jealous of your bread pan! I’ve been wanting a large griddle piece to use on my grill, too, but the cost holds me back. In the spring I’m going to crawl yard sales looking for people who don’t know what they’re giving up!

    Reply to Issa's comment

  17. […] the mean time, Chiot’s Run has added another to-do to my list — getting and using a cast iron pan.  My birthday is just […]

    Reply to City Roots, Country Life » Blog Archive » New Years Goals Extension – Emma's comment

  18. Stone Soup on December 31, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    We are a cast iron family as well! I have both Lodge and Le Crueset, which I love. I have both enamel coated and plain ole cast iron. I cook everything with them, from applesauce to ebelskiver to beef bourguignon. I find them easy to clean and well worth the price, but I can appreciate Kathryn’s comment about the corn bread pan being difficult to clean, I now opt to cook it in a 10″ skillet instead of the wedge pan. It’s not worth the hassle, which makes me sad that the pan is a complete waste! But my Le Creuset is worth every stinkin’ penny!!! Teflon is over-rated!

    Reply to Stone Soup's comment

  19. denimflyz on December 31, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I have my great grandmother’s cast iron, my grandmother’s from her mother, some are Lodge, some are Sidney, and one Griswold, and they are over 100 years old and still black and slick.
    I love them and will never part with them.
    I recently purchased two loaf pans and a muffin pan from Lodge, they work like a charm.
    Enjoy your blog and look forward to 2011’s blog. Have a wonderful New Year.

    Reply to denimflyz's comment

  20. Rhonda on December 31, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Cast iron is definitely my favorite. Nothing bakes bread like a cast iron Dutch oven. I learned about it in a book called, “My Bread” and it’s wonderful. I’m slowly replacing most of my cookware to vintage cast iron. I love cooking with it and knowing there’s a story and history behind every skillet and pot I cook with.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  21. Lynn Bay on December 31, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    My favorite kitchen tool is a cast iron skillet that my grandmother left me. She use to cook with it on a wood cook stove in a logging camp where she cooked for all of the unmarried men. It will be passed to one of my children when I can figure out which one will use it the best!

    Reply to Lynn Bay's comment

  22. MAYBELLINE on December 31, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Cast iron is fantastic. Truly – it’s an easy “go to” gift for house warming, weddings, etc. If I was getting married, I would register at my local hardware store.

    I didn’t know about cast iron bread pans. I’ll need to try that. Doesn’t the acid from the cherries react with the iron? Please let me know because I keep anything acidic out of my cast iron.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  23. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Friday Favorite: Cast Iron #fridayfavorites #castiron […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention —'s comment

  24. Lona on December 31, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Isn’t cast iron cooking so wonderful. Everything tastes so much better for some odd reason when it is cooked in it.
    Have a Blessed New Year to come.

    Reply to Lona's comment

  25. Johua on December 31, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Can you speak a little bit about your method of maintaining your seasoning? I have the darndest time keeping my seasoning whole.

    I think that I understand the concept: cooked-on fat creates a black, slick, surface. Anybody who’s ever tried to clean a spot of cooked-on fat off of a roasting pan understands how tenacious it can be! But no matter what I do, it seems like my seasoning starts to wear off after just a few meals cooked in the pan.

    This last time, I thought I had seasoning figured out. I wasn’t using hot enough temperature. I read that you want to heat the pans to the point where the fat totally stops smoking and stops being the least bit sticky. In order to avoid filling the house with smoke, I put the pans on the grill. I heated them to between 600 and 700 degrees (thank you, infrared thermometer) and applied shortening with a rag regularly for about three hours, just coat after coat, and then put them back on the fire, as if I was doing decoupage. Afterwards, they looked fantastic! Black. Shiny. Like somebody’s grandma’s mythological pans. But, sadly, after doing a few breakfasts, I can already start to see the surface flaking off in some areas.

    It’s not a tragedy. I still love my cast iron pans. I just wish I could figure out what everybody else seems to know about getting a good, solid seasoning that lasts. I’m not rough with the pans. I don’t scrape them with metal utensils, I don’t clean them aggressively, and so forth. I just have no idea what I could be doing differently than the hypothetical grandma whose hand-me-down pans are so beautiful.

    For the record, my pans are all from Lodge, and I season pretty much exclusively with vegetable shortening.

    Reply to Johua's comment

    • bonnie on December 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      Bless your heart! Believe it or not I actually got rid of a couple of pieces of cast iron, their “indestructible” nature notwithstanding.
      However, I have a skillet now that is doing very well for me. When I complained of the “flaking off” or whatever of one skillet, Mama let me know I was expecting too much of my skillet. The other thing she might have chided me about was, “You ain’t cooking with enough seasoning.” Seasoning means fat of any kind. The final thing is some foods like potatoes, pancakes, cornbread enhance the seasoning, but foods like meat and tomatoes take the seasoning off the pan.

      Reply to bonnie's comment

      • Joshua on December 31, 2010 at 8:19 pm

        Thanks, Bonnie. I love my pans and have always accepted them for what they are. (“It’s okay, little pans. You can have your seasoning flake off. You’re still my pans, and I love you.”) I’ve just always wondered if I was doing something wrong.

        to Joshua's comment

  26. Joy Giles on December 31, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    What did you bake in picture one? It looks great and like something I would like to bake.

    Reply to Joy Giles's comment

  27. Carol on December 31, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I have a few Le Creuset pieces that I’ve either saved up for or found for a steal on eBay. I LOVE them. I know they’re not for everyone (my mom doesn’t like them because they’re so heavy they hurt her hands), but I love mine.

    Reply to Carol's comment

  28. annie on December 31, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I adore my cast iron! I cook with it more than my all clad stainless steel.

    Reply to annie's comment

    • Joshua on December 31, 2010 at 8:11 pm


      When I first got into cooking, I lusted after All-Clad, but couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on it. Now that I’m a bit more settled in, I’m glad I didn’t splurge. I do 99% of my pan-cooking in cast iron, and don’t feel like I’m missing a thing. For $15-30 a pan, I don’t see how you could go wrong.

      I have come to value simplicity and reliability more than whiz-bang technology, even if the technology does have some advantages. It’s funny how technologies that are supposed to make life “simpler” and “easier” somehow end up making it more complicated. Sure, a teflon pan will be non-stick every day until it wears out, no seasoning required, but what kind of a world do we have to live in, to have teflon exist in the first place? Cast iron has been around for hundreds of years, and all I need to season it is a wood fire and some lard. Some people might look at the process of raising a pig, slaughtering it, then rendering lard as incredibly complicated, compared to buying a teflon pan at the local big-box store, but I say there is infinitely more complexity involved in that teflon pan, you’re just not seeing it. I’ll take the kind of “complexity” I can wrap my arms around any day. At least then, I can be sure that nothing reprehensible is being done out of my sight.

      That being said. All-Clad are some beautiful pans, and honestly, they will probably last as long as cast iron unless you run over them with a truck. It’s just too bad they’re so darn expensive.

      Reply to Joshua's comment

    • Joshua on December 31, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      Incidentally, these days, I lust after Susy’s cast iron bread pans and pizza pan. Does anybody know if anybody makes a cast iron cookie sheet? The pizza pan is close, but being round, it’s not ideal.

      I guess I could just buy a griddle, but I bet the pizza pan is thinner.

      Reply to Joshua's comment

  29. Mrs. Santos on December 31, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Yes, absolutely a cast iron girl. Those are lovely (and yummy) photos. Happy New Year to you and yours! I always enjoy my visits to your blog.

    Reply to Mrs. Santos's comment

  30. Janet Anderson on December 31, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I haven’t had any experience with cast iron even though it is very common here in Alberta. I have always been hesitant because of the seasoning process! How do you find a cast iron bread pan works versus a tin or aluminum one? I have never seen one.


    Reply to Janet Anderson's comment

  31. Caroline on December 31, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I bought a cast iron skillet at a yard sale, and it’s easily the best purchase of my life; it really opened my cooking horizons. The skillet and my Le Creuset dutch oven are the only things I’ll use.

    Reply to Caroline's comment

  32. Carrie on January 1, 2011 at 12:54 am

    You mentioned before that you use bacon grease to season/cook with…. how and what do you store it in? I was all set to “christen” our new skillet with some thick cut bacon, but stopped because I wasn’t sure what to do with the grease when I was done!

    Reply to Carrie's comment

  33. Avaril on January 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I store mine in the refrigerator.

    Reply to Avaril's comment

  34. Nancy from Mass on January 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I love my cast iron and like you, I use my Griswold the most. It was at our camp in northern NH and when my mom sold the place I grabbed it. I have a dutch oven, 10″, 8″, 4″ as well as a 6″ and 10″ grilled pan. My MIL handed down to me a tortilla pan she had (but never used) and it was rusty as anything. I spent a few hours cleaning it and re-seasoning it… we use it now for all sorts of things (french toast, grilled cheese, etc). The only thing I don’t own YET is a bread pan. Oh, would I love a CI bread pan. Maybe it will be in the budget this year!

    Reply to Nancy from Mass's comment

  35. Marcia on January 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Some women look at rows of shoes and sigh. I stand in front of shelves filled with Le Creuset at William Sonoma and dream, a forlorn look in my eyes. I own one enameled cast iron dutch oven and I love it, although it is a KitchenAid and not a Creuset. One day…one day

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  36. N. Aultman on January 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    This was an excellent gift for my mother. She would always looks at Le Creuset cookware in Williams Sonoma but would never buy any because of its price. Amazon came through and shipped the item promptly and it arrived in perfect condition gift wrapped.

    Reply to N. Aultman's comment

  37. Holly on April 25, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I use cast iron for everything but making bread. I noticed your picture of bread rising in the cast iron. I would like to know if the bottom and side crusts of your bread come out hard and crispy? I like that for some breads…but, not for the whole wheat sandwich bread I make using freshly ground wheat. My family prefers a softer crust.

    Thanks for any help!

    Reply to Holly's comment

    • Susy on April 25, 2011 at 9:55 am

      I don’t find that the cast iron bakes the crust any differently than any other bread pan when making loaf breads. They are crispy when you first pull them out, but they soften up as the bread cools.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Holly on April 25, 2011 at 10:29 am

        Thank you so much.


        to Holly's comment

      • Holly on April 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm

        Oh…one more question. How much dough does one pan hold? Do they make just one pound loaves or can I fit 1.5 pound of dough in the pan?

        Thank you!

        to Holly's comment

      • Susy on April 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm

        It has a 3.5 cup capacity. It depends on how you like your loaves I think. If you like them with big mushroom tops you can use 1.5 lbs of dough if you like them smaller use 1 lb of dough. I’ve used both with success.

        Here’s a link to the pan if you’re interested: Lodge Cast Iron Loaf Pan

        to Susy's comment

  38. Holly on April 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks so much!!!

    Reply to Holly's comment

  39. Galina Policicchio on February 21, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Real nice pattern and great content , very little else we need : D.

    Reply to Galina Policicchio's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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