When it comes to cooking, one of the best items you can have in your pantry or on your rack is a good solid cast iron skillet.
Cast iron is one of the most durable forms of cookware around, and if you know how to use it, it can provide some of the best tasting foods you can imagine.
My family has used cast iron cookware for as long as I can remember and there is just something nostalgic about cooking with it, regardless of whether I am cooking eggs over a campfire or baking biscuits in the oven.
There are some big benefits of using a cast iron skillet…
Some cast iron skillets are still in use today that were crafted well over a century ago. With proper care, there is no reason that your skillet shouldn’t last at least several decades.
Cast iron skillets can be used over an open flame, on a grill, on a gas range, in the oven, and even on electric ranges. I have found that cast irons work best over a flame, but I have an electric oven and it works quite well on that too. This is one of the best factors when thinking about keeping cast iron in your survival supplies. You can cook with it no matter what heat source you have.
- Heat Retention and Dispersion
A properly made cast iron skillet will evenly disperse the heat and allow for cooking without worrying about hot spots unlike aluminum and steel cookware. This is a huge deal if you have to cook over an open flame where the flames will only kiss the bottom of the pan and not have the constant regulated heat of a stovetop.
Cooking on a cast iron skillet will leach a bit of iron into your meals, up to a few milligrams per item cooked. In a survival situation you will need as much iron as you can get, especially if you are in any way anemic.
The first cast iron skillet that I bought was an 8” flat bottom skillet from Lodge, simply because they are a made in the USA product and Lodge has been crafting cast iron skillets since 1896. They are pretty much the name in cast iron and readily available at most stores.
They are also relatively inexpensive, the 8” skillet bringing in a whopping $10.00 bottom line. My skillet has lasted me about 3 years so far, and aside from a little mishap with olive oil (see below) I have never had any problems cooking with it.
Lodge makes a very well-crafted product that will last for decades or longer with proper care.
A little note on proper care…
It is good practice to re-season your cast iron pans about once a year.
When re-seasoning your pan NEVER use olive oil, always use oils and fats with high smoke points. I prefer to use Crisco and I like to season my pans inside my grill to avoid any mess.
Olive oil has too low of a smoke point to be an effective seasoning agent. It will create an acrid smoke and absolutely ruin the season and finish of your skillet. If you do use olive oil, all you will need to do is strip and re-season your pan.
Never use soap on your cast iron. Soap will ruin your seasoning on the pan.
Never take your pan from a heat source and drench it in cold water, doing so will shock the pan and cause it to crack or shatter.
The major drawback to cast iron skillets is size and weight. I chose the 8” flat bottom skillet from Lodge because it has a “light” weight of about 4lbs with a small size that is easily storable. Lodge makes a large array of cast iron products, and if you have the space to store them and are okay with their weight (i.e. you don’t plan on carrying them far), a cast iron skillet is a necessity when it comes to prepping your survival kitchen.
Ready to get cooking with cast iron? Check out these 20 mouthwatering cast iron skillet recipes. And if you’re still not satisfied, these cast iron skillet dessert recipes are sure to please your sweet tooth.