Cast iron skillets are fantastic to have in the kitchen. Whether you’re frying a steak or sealing in some lovely flavour on a salmon fillet, there is no better choice of cookware than a cast iron skillet.
However, cast iron skillets need to be good quality in order to get the best out of them. So, how can you tell if your skillet is good quality? Well, let’s find out.
A Quick History of Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron has been used in the kitchen for hundreds of years. The first known piece of cast iron cookware (that looks very similar to the cast iron skillets we use now) was made about 1,800 years ago in China.
However, in the 16th century, casting techniques evolved enough to make the use of cast iron cookware widespread in Europe. There are some extremely rare and early examples of cast iron cookware that are worth a fortune.
A skillet known as the “Spider Skillet”, which was made in the 1890s, was sold a while ago for nearly $8,000. So, that is properly a very good skillet, but how can you tell if yours is?
How to Tell if Your Cast Iron Skillet Good Quality
1. The weight
Cast iron skillets are heavy, and they should be. This weight means there is plenty of metal in the pan. This metal holds the heat in nicely while you are cooking.
However, it is also a sign of quality. You see, if the cast iron is thin, it means somewhere along the way someone was trying to save money on metal rather than providing you with a good pan.
So, the heavier your pan is, the better quality it is. Also, the thinner cast iron is, the more brittle it is. So, a thicker pan will last longer.
2. The price
Buy cheap, buy twice. This isn’t always true, and cast iron skillets aren’t massively expensive when compared with other cookware.
However, a good quality cast iron skillet isn’t going to be that cheap either. Anything from about £50 upwards is generally considered by most a good price to pay for a good quality cast iron skillet.
3. The manufacturer’s logo
If you have an old cast iron skillet and want to know if it is a good one, you may find a maker’s mark on the bottom of it. Type the name into Google, and you should be able to see if your cast iron skillet was made by a quality manufacturer.
Just because you don’t find the name, though, don’t worry. Typically, most old cast iron skillets are very good quality, and if it is has survived this long, it is probably very good. It may not be worth $8,000, but it will still cook a steak to perfection!
4. The handle
The handle of a cast iron skillet must be made in the mould. It mustn’t be riveted or screwed on after the fact. Cast iron skillets are extremely heavy, as we’ve mentioned, so a riveted handle will not last that long.
5. The pan’s surface
The pan’s surface is a really good indication of how good quality the cookware is. You see, cast iron skillets are moulded from molten cast iron. This means that they have a slightly raised, bumpy texture in the bottom of the pan and around the sides.
The underside of the pan is usually ground so that it doesn’t scratch your hob. So, make sure the skillet you buy has that very slightly bumpy surface, and you’ll be on to a winner.
That is about it. Most cast iron skillets will provide you will hundreds of hours of enjoyment in the kitchen, but get the right skillet, and it could last your family for hundreds of years!
Scott is a writer and a passionate home chef. His passion for cooking began when he was 10 years old. Scott has been writing professionally for over five years now and loves to combine his passion for cooking with his day job.