Ever since the cave dwellers discovered fire it has been used to prepare meals. This brought about the need for cooking vessels. The earliest known cooking vessel was made of pottery 15,000 years ago in what is now Japan. Analysis of the pottery determined it was used to cook seafood, possibly salmon.
Cast Iron is one of the oldest known metals for manufacturing cookware. Englishman Abraham Darby is credited for revolutionizing cast iron cookware. He patented his method in 1707. His method made it possible to forge thinner pots and kettles making them cheaper to manufacture and more affordable to buy. However, cast iron artifacts date as far back as the 5th century.
As indoor stoves became more widespread in the late 18th and early 19th centuries cookware began to evolve and flat bottom cast iron skillets became a staple for kitchens in Europe and the USA. Industrialized manufacturing made cast iron cookware cheaper and available to more people. I love cast iron cooking and occasionally am teased about my pioneer pots. I have lived through owning club aluminium, waterless stainless steel, all the nonstick pots and pans, and even corning ware glass cookware only to return to my time-honoured cast-iron skillets and Dutch ovens.
Cast iron heats evenly and cooks well. It can go from stovetop to oven and table in a lot of households. Griswold and Wagner are original American-made brands with Griswold presently being very collectable. Cast iron dipped in popularity when Aluminum cookware and electric skillets became popular in the mid-20th century followed by stainless steel and Teflon coated pots and pans. But through it all cast iron never became obsolete. The most common brand found at thrift stores and garage sales is American-made Lodge with an occasional rarer brand waiting to be found in a thrift store, garage sale, or estate sale.
Cast iron is gaining popularity with younger cooks. Most new cast iron cookware comes seasoned and with care instructions. If you are not familiar with the proper care of your cast iron, here you go:
- Scour & rinse well, okay to use mild dish soap
- Dry completely with a paper towel or heat on a stove burner
- Coat all surfaces well with cooking oil
- Wipe off excess oil with a paper towel or soft cotton
I often get asked if it’s safe to use metal utensils on cast iron and the answer is absolute. There are some dishes that are better in cast iron. One of my first and favorites is cornbread. Here’s one of my favorite scratch cornbread recipes. I hope you enjoy it.
Southern Honey Cornbread
Melt a stick of butter over medium heat in a #10 skillet then set aside
Preheat oven to 400
In a medium bowl mix the following
½ t salt
Dash cayenne pepper
3 T honey
Mix well then add the following
1 ½ C Buttermilk
½ the melted butter leaving another half in the skillet
Pour into a hot buttered skillet & bake for 25 to 30 minutes
Serve warm or cold