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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What brand should you get?

There are many brands of cast iron out there, but they are not all the same. Here's a brief rundown of different brands and which ones to look for.

Griswold and Wagner are said to be the best quality, but are no longer made. You can find used ones on ebay-- and cast iron IMPROVES with use, so that's not a bad thing at all, assuming that it's been well cared for.

Le Creuset and Straub are expensive, and as far as I know, only sell enameled cast iron. I don't have any enameled, and don't plan on it.*

*I have since obtained one enameled pot.

I think Lodge is the best currently on the market. It's not made like it used to be, so if you can snag old Lodge cookware at a flea market, then do. Although it's "pre-seasoned", you should still season it, and it will still stick the first few times you use it.

Old Mountain is slightly below Lodge in quality, and the next best thing. They have a few pieces Lodge does not have, including a pie pan, loaf pan*, square baker, and rectangular baker.

*Lodge used to make loaf pans; Occasionally you can snag one on ebay. I found that the Lodge 9 inch skillet is the perfect size for pie.

Emerilware's quality is also slightly below Lodge. They have a vertical poultry roaster, which is nice, that Lodge doesn't have.

Camp Chef (also known as Sante Cabin) is a step down from Old Mountain, and has a few pieces that Lodge does not have, including a pie pan, loaf pan, and 6 inch griddle. For a short time they made cobbler pots, but apparently not anymore!

Camp Chef also sells the ultimate dutch oven, which is a smaller version of the ultimate turkey roaster, which has been discontinued.

Sante Cabin / Camp Chef is the minimum quality cast iron I would buy. It serves its purpose if Old Mountain or Lodge are not available.

Bayou Classic cast iron, I was not impressed with. They do make VERY LARGE pots for huge crowd cooking, that Lodge does not make. Unless you need one of those, I would stick to Lodge.

Any other brand not mentioned here, stay away from*. Some of it isn't even real cast iron, and says so in small print.

*I've since learned that Cabela's cast iron is made by camp chef. So it's OK although Lodge is better.

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