Take a peek inside any kitchen in the world and the most cherished item inside is likely to be cast iron. No matter its form, cast iron is a metal for the ages. The first records of cast iron being used to cook with come from China as early as the 6th century BC. India, Korea and Japan also have a strong and well-documented history of using cast iron to prepare meals well before the rest of the world.
Cast iron is known for its durability and ability to retain heat evenly. These qualities are what made it popular when it was eventually discovered by the Europeans. The first mention of the a cast-iron kettle in the area appeared around the year 679 but was most likely used well before then. While there is evidence of metal casting in the Americas before being colonized by the British, Europeans brought more advanced techniques helping make cast-iron a kitchen staple in the colonies
Before the arrival of the kitchen stove, meals were cooked over direct fire. Early cast iron pots were made with either handles, to allow them to hang over the fire, or legs to stand in the coals. As stovetops became popular around the late 19th century, the flat-bottomed cast iron skillet was introduced.
Cast iron cookware was in its heyday during the first half of the 20th century. It was cheap and durable, making it the ideal kitchen commodity throughout the United States. However, cast iron took a hit in the 60’s and 70’s as other types of cookware, such as teflon and aluminum, were introduced to the public. Cooks were impressed by these new non-stick pots and pans putting cast iron on the back burner in many kitchens for decades.
While much of America was falling for the latest and greatest in cookware there was a small amount of cooks, especially in the south, who never stopped using their beloved cast iron. They knew that there was only one metal that could go from the stove to the oven to tha campfire without a scratch. These cooks cherished their cast iron and passed it down for future generations to enjoy. Kitchens today all across the country are using the same cast iron cookware as their mothers and grandmothers. It’s not just another kitchen gadget but a beloved keepsake that holds cherished memories of sunday dinners and family celebrations.
Recently, there has been a revival of cast iron in the kitchen. Both the internet and the rising popularity of cooking shows have brought attention back to its versatility and affordability. It is quite possibly the only kitchen tool that can literally last forever if properly taken care of. People are also taking a closer look at the health benefits of cast iron. It is well-know that cast iron can add iron to your diet and is absent of the chemicals found in non-stick cookware such as teflon.
There is a reason that cast iron has been around since before the birth of the modern kitchen. While some things are better left in the past (we’re looking at you hand mixers and salad spinners) there is room in every kitchen for cast iron. The proof of its superiority is in its history.