We pretty much answered our own question there! Yes, cast iron pans, skillets, and dutch ovens are super strong and sturdy. There's not a lot you can do to truly damage one permanently, as evidenced by the fact that many of us are using skillets inherited from grandparents. But the reasons don't stop there!
• Strong and Sturdy - Cast iron cookware will definitely last a lifetime and then some. Just try and put a dent in one of these things! Seasoned cast iron is impervious to rust and will actually improve during years of use. Even if you let your cast iron get a little rusty, all you have to do is scour off the rust, re-season the pan, and you're off and running.
• Even Cooking - Cast iron is an incredibly dense metal that heats very slowly as compared to metals like copper and aluminum. But once heated, cast iron will hold that heat for a long time. The metal also gives a steady heat that helps foods brown beautifully and cook evenly.
• Nonstick Cooking without Nonstick Coating - The seasoning on a cast iron skillet does more than protect it from corroding, it also gives the surface a naturally nonstick coating. We can cook pancakes, omelets, skillet breads, and a host of other delicate foods without fear that they will stick. A newly seasoned cast iron skillet might still have some sticky spots, but the surface will become more nonstick as the pan is used over time.
• Stove Top to Oven - We also love the versatility of cast iron cookware. We can use it over the highest flame on the stove top, keep it at a medium heat in the oven, or stick it in the coals of a campfire. This kind of flexibility is ideal for recipes that start on a burner and then finish in the oven, like seared steaks or frittatas.
• Multi-Tasking Tool - Cast iron can wear a lot of hats in the kitchen. We've used our big skillet to replace a roasting pan, to make pizza on the stove top, and as a burner plate when simmering something on very low heat. We even once used it to improvise a cooling rack for bread! If you have limited storage space in your kitchen, investing in just a few pieces of cast iron can help cut down on the clutter.
• Inexpensive - With prices on just about everything creeping steadily upwards, it's nice to find an honest-to-goodness real deal out there. You can find a large skillet for around $30, and other products ranging above and below depending on what they are. Check out Lodge Cast Iron Cookware for some good products.
Ok, those are all the reasons we can think of why we love cast iron. What about you?
Related: Home Hacks: How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet
(Image: Flickr member thedabble licensed under Creative Commons)