Whether you're cooking breakfast for the family, grilling up some ribs for a picnic, or brewing a kettle of water for afternoon tea, cast iron cookware fits the bill. Cast iron is extremely durable, so you can count on any piece you add to your collection to last for years and even get better with age. It keeps an even temperature as you cook to help prevent burnt meals, and it retains heat better than most materials, keeping your food warmer longer. The material is also naturally nonstick, so you don't have to use unhealthy oils or concern yourself with dangerous Teflon coatings that can flake off into your food. Cast iron leaches iron into food as it cooks, helping to fortify your meals and increase your iron intake. Overstock.com offers a wide selection of cast iron cookware in a variety of types and sizes to suit your cooking needs, and you can choose from many color options to match your existing dishes or kitchen decor. Browse top-quality brands that include Cuisinart, Chefmaster, Bayou, La Cuisine, and Lodge.
Types of Cast Iron Cookware
Tapered saucepans are commonly used for cooking sauces and other liquids at low temperatures for long periods of time. They feature flared sides that make stirring easy and a smaller bottom for less exposure to heat. A straight-sided saucepan has a wider bottom diameter for greater exposure to heat, and a lid may be placed on top to speed up cooking. These pans are used for cooking vegetables or reducing sauces. A frying pan, also known as a skillet, is typically used for frying, searing, or scrambling foods. It features curved sides to allow for easy stirring of foods and sliding contents out of the pan. Braiser pans are often used for simmering meats and vegetables in liquid for long periods of time; they're wide, shallow, and feature a tight-fitting lid.
A wok is used for stir-frying and is noted for its deep, curved sides. Woks may feature one handle or two; some have a flat bottom, while others have a round bottom and are used with a wok ring. Stock pots are tall and marked by a small yet thick base that makes them ideal for simmering soups, stocks, seafood, vegetables, and pasta. Dutch ovens are large, heavy pots ideal for braising foods or cooking stews and soups. They often feature a tight-fitting lid and may be used on the stovetop or in the oven. Casserole dishes are large, deep vessels typically used to cook casseroles in the oven, and they're often also used for serving. Many casserole dishes are round or oval-shaped, and most of them include a lid.
A griddle is a flat pan with a small lip designed to keep fat in the pan and is commonly used for cooking and grilling. Square griddles feature a long handle and fit on one stove burner, while larger, rectangular griddles often have two handles and fit over two burners. Grill pans have evenly spaced ridges ideal for grilling meats and other foods; their sides may be flatter like a grill or deeper like a frying pan. A sauté pan is used for sautéing or frying foods; it typically features short, straight sides, a long handle, and may come with a lid.
A tea kettle boils water for brewing tea. After the water is heated, it's transferred to a teapot that contains tea leaves. The tea brews inside the teapot. Unlike tea kettles, teapots are not typically capable of withstanding the high temperatures needed to boil water.
A roaster, sometimes referred to as a broiling pan or broiler roaster, consists of a walled rectangular pan and a lid with open slats or holes; it's often used to broil meats. Food is placed on top of the slatted lid, and drippings collect in the pan below. Roasting pans are commonly used to cook meats and include a rack insert that keeps the meat off the pan's surface, so it doesn't soak in its own juices
Fondue sets include a pot and a heat source that's placed below the pot to melt chocolate, cheese, or other dips. Skewers are used to dip bread, fruits, vegetables, and other foods into the warmed dip. A tagine is a two-piece cooking vessel used for making the North American dish that's also called tagine. Tagines feature a tall cone-shaped lid sitting tightly atop a wide, shallow base. Steam gathers inside the tagine, rises into the thin neck, condenses, and then drips back down into the dish.
Most cast iron cookware is safe for use in the oven as well as on the stove top, in the broiler, on a grill, and even directly into a fire. You can prolong the life of your cast iron cookware by seasoning it after each use. This involves adding vegetable oil to the heated dish until smoke forms.
Some cast iron cookware is designed to be safe for cleaning in the dishwasher. Other pieces require hand washing. Cast iron should always cool sufficiently before it is cleaned, and you should never use steel wool on cast iron cookware.
Induction cooktops use an electromagnetic field to conduct heat rather than thermal conduction or an electrical element. While many cookware materials are not safe to use with induction cooktops, cast iron commonly is compatible because it is magnetic-based.
Enameled cast iron cookware is lined with a ceramic enamel, reducing the need to season pieces after they're used. Enameled cast iron cookware typically comes in an attractive array of colors, and these pieces are commonly safe for use on the stove top and in the oven. While most traditional cast iron cookware should not be used to heat acidic foods, such as tomatoes or lemons, these are safe for use in enameled cast iron.