Lodge Cast Iron Buyers' Guide
Lodge Manufacturing began establishing itself as a leading manufacturer of cast iron cookware when it was founded in South Pittsburg, Tenn., more than a century ago. In recent years, the company has developed innovative techniques to make cast iron accessible to a wider audience and introduced new lines that offer different styles of cookware, such as enameled cast iron and seasoned steel. The company has an extensive list of offerings that guarantees you'll be able to find the perfect addition to your kitchen, whether you're looking for a traditional cast iron skillet, durable camping gear, a beautiful enameled Dutch oven, seasoned steel pans, or cooking accessories.
Cast Iron Cookware
Traditional Lodge cast iron cookware is what first made the company a household name, particularly because these pieces are known for being long-lasting family heirlooms that can be passed down from one generation to the next. Lodge began pre-seasoning cast iron in 2002 and released those pieces as part of the Lodge Logic series, but pre-seasoning is now a standard practice for all Lodge cast iron products and within the cast iron industry. Pre-seasoning a piece of cast iron at the factory means that it ships with a layer of non-stick seasoning already baked on, allowing the cookware to be used as soon as it arrives. Because seasoning cast iron cookware can seem like a daunting task to cooks who aren't familiar with the process, this innovative technique has helped make Lodge cast iron more accessible to a wider audience.
Lodge cookware is available in a variety of styles and sizes to suit your specific needs. Cast iron skillets can be as large as 17 inches and as small as 5 inches, although even smaller skillets, considered mini skillets, are available for cooking and serving individual portions. Cast iron griddles and grill pans, some of which have a ribbed bottom that creates grill marks on the food, can be square, rectangular, or round. These pieces are available with one long handle, a long handle on one side and a looped handle on the other, or two looped handles, and might also come with one or two pour spouts built into the wall to assist with removing grease or liquid. Lids for these pieces are made of tempered glass or cast iron. Cast iron lids might be self-basting, which means they have spikes that consistently drip water, created from the trapped steam, onto the food.
Lodge is also known for producing quality Dutch ovens, which are popular and versatile vessels used for making bread, soup, pasta, roasts, and a variety of one-pot meals. Dutch ovens, which always include a tight-fitting cover, are available with or without legs and in capacities as large as 10 quarts. Cast iron bakeware is ideal for making bread products with a crispy crust, and it's no surprise that Lodge also offers pans specific to baking bread, including loaf pans, muffin pans, wedge pans, biscuit pans, and an aebelskiver pan for making Danish pancake puffs. Other specialty cookware includes fajita platters and wooden under-liners, a wok-style pan, a country kettle, a guitar-shaped skillet, and a pizza pan.
Dishwasher-safe Cast Iron
Lodge's most recent innovation has helped produce a line of cast iron cookware that can be cleaned in the dishwasher without rusting. This is achieved through a unique treatment process that changes the material's molecular structure, removing oxygen from the surface layer and replacing it with nitrogen. Dishwashing these pieces after every use isn't recommended, but test pieces were put through 200 dishwasher cycles without showing damage. Cookware from the Lodge heat-treated cast iron line includes round, oval, and rectangular mini servers, as well as 61⁄2-inch and 8-inch skillets.
Enamel Cast Iron
Lodge enamel cast iron is produced in conjunction with a partner foundry that adheres to the company's strict standards and quality control inspections. To create this type of cookware, cast iron is finished with frit, a glass particulate, which is baked on at high temperatures to create a bonded porcelain surface. Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, which can be round or oval, are available in beautiful shades of blue, green, purple, red, and white, giving you a versatile piece of cookware that's as functional as it is attractive. Lodge also produces enameled cast iron skillets and pans that have a brightly-colored exterior finish and a matte black cooking surface.
Lodge seasoned steel skillets and griddles are made from carbon steel, which helps make a pan with many of the same advantages as cast iron. Carbon steel pans also provide a non-stick surface when seasoned, but are lighter, thinner, and more quickly heated than their cast iron counterparts. These skillets are round and range in size from 8 to 15 inches, but you can also pick up a square grilling pan or an 18-inch by 10-inch griddle.
Because cast iron cookware is durable enough to be used on an open flame, it has become a popular choice for outdoor cooking and grilling. To make it even easier to use cast iron pots and pans while camping, Lodge outdoor gear includes a hibachi-style grill and a cooking table, as well as scrapers, covers, and totes to keep your equipment in good condition.
Whether you'll be using your Lodge cookware in your home kitchen or outdoors, it's important to invest in accessories that will help you safely handle the cast iron once it heats up. Oven mitts are commonplace in any kitchen, but silicone handle holders are designed specifically to fit on the long or loop handles of pans, griddles, and Dutch ovens. Trivets will protect your countertops from damage caused by hot cookware, allowing you to remove it from the oven or stovetop and set it out to cool. These are available in several colors, including black, blue, purple, and red, to complement your décor.
Other Lodge accessories are available to transform the way you use your equipment. Parchment liners are frequently used for baking, as these facilitate the removal of delicate desserts and make clean-up even easier. Round fry baskets, designed to work with your Dutch oven, make the removal of fried foods safer, while a splatter screen can be used while frying bacon, sausage, and other foods to keep grease in the pan and prevent it from splattering onto your countertops or arms.
If you're not sure what to make with your cast iron cookware, Lodge cookbooks cover a variety of topics and offer recipes for Dutch ovens, outdoor cooking, indoor grilling, making cornbread, and more.