Cast iron cookware has long been lauded for its durability, versatility and ability to heat evenly, and for the fact that it gets better the more you use it. It was used as early as the Han dynasty in China, where it was used to evaporate water for salt harvesting. While some have ditched cast iron for lightweight non-stick one-and-done pans, the truth is nothing compares to the quality of cast iron. These three pieces of cast iron cookware come pre-seasoned, which means that it has a natural stick-resistant layer that is created by oils and fats. Over time, these fats soak into the pan, preventing the food that you’re cooking from interacting with the iron and seeping into your dish. The fats and oils also help to protect the pan from rusting — allowing cast iron pans, skillets and dutch ovens to last for centuries.
Iwachu 410-555 Iron Omelette Pan
Most Versatile Pan: Iwachu is the Japanese equivalent of Lodge or Griswold cast iron. The method that the company uses for crafting the pans consists of 68 steps — each contributing to finely and delicately shaping the iron. Iwachu employs the traditional nambu tekki style of crafting cast iron, which traces back over 400 years and is unique to the Iwate Prefecture. This omelet pan measures eight and a half inches in diameter and is perfect for cooking eggs, but don’t pigeon-hole it to just that. Its gentle curves make it ideal for stir frying vegetables.
Finex 8-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Best Skillet: Portland, Oregon-based Finex makes high-quality cast iron in traditional American fashion — with a modern twist. For starters, they polish all of their cast iron to give the already non-stick surface even less friction. Then there’s the shape. As opposed to the more typical circular silhouette, Finex opts for an octagon. The result, they say, is a skillet that make it easier to pour sauces and jus without spilling. The skillet is also deeper than most on the market, which helps it to better brown meat and sauté vegetables.
Griswold Erie Flat-Top Dutch Oven
Best Dutch Oven:The classic heritage quality of Griswold cast iron simply can’t be replicated in modern iron. Though Griswold closed its doors in 1957, its skillets and Dutch ovens can still be found at yard sales and on internet auctions for a steal. Best Made Co. has also been known to refinish heritage Griswold pieces and sell them on their site (though none are available currently). As mentioned before, cast iron only gets better with age, and each Griswold piece is at least 58 years old. This Dutch oven can be used on the stove, in the oven or placed over a campfire — or, if you’re a skilled backcountry cook, a twiggy fire can be built on top of the oven in tandem with a heat source from below, to cook evenly from both top and bottom.