An American cast-iron Dutch oven, 1896
In Asia, particularly China, India, Korea and Japan, there is a long history of cooking with cast iron vessels. However, the first mention of a cast-iron kettle in English appeared in 679 or 680, though this wasn’t the first use of metal vessels of cooking. The term pot came into use in 1180. Both terms referred to a vessel capable of withstanding the direct heat of a fire. Cast-iron cauldrons and cooking pots were valued as kitchen items for their durability and their ability to retain heat evenly, thus improving the quality of cooked meals.
In both Europe and the United States, before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the middle of the 19th century, meals were cooked in the hearth or fireplace, and cooking pots and pans were either designed for use in the hearth, or to be suspended in a fireplace. Cast-iron pots were made with handles to allow them to be hung over a fire, or with legs so that they could stand in the coals. In addition to Dutch ovens with three or four feet, which Abraham Darby I secured a patent in 1708 to produce, a commonly used cast-iron cooking pan called a spider had a handle and three legs allowing it to stand upright over campfires as well as in the coals and ashes of a fireplace.
Cooking pots and pans with legless, flat bottoms came into use when cooking stoves became popular; this period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast-iron skillet.
Cast-iron cookware was especially popular among homemakers during the first half of the 20th century. It was a cheap, yet durable cookware. Most American households had at least one cast-iron cooking pan, and brands such as Griswold, which began manufacturing in 1865, Wagner Ware, which began manufacturing in 1881, and Lodge Manufacturing, which entered the marketplace in 1896 as Blacklock Foundry, all competed for market share. The 20th century also saw the introduction and popularization of enamel-coated cast-iron cookware.
Cast iron fell out of favor in the 1960s and 1970s, as teflon-coated aluminum non-stick cookware was introduced and quickly became the item of choice in many kitchens. The decline in daily use of cast-iron cookware contributed to the closure of nearly all the iron cookware manufacturers in the United States. Many went out of business in the 1920s as seen in the List of cast-iron cookware manufacturers. Others were absorbed by other cookware manufacturers, such as the buyout of Griswold by Wagner in 1957, which was then purchased by the American Culinary Corporation. By the end of the 20th century, Lodge Manufacturing was the only remaining manufacturer of cast-iron cookware in the United States.
Today, of the large selection of cookware that can be purchased from kitchen suppliers, cast iron comprises only a small fraction. However, the durability and reliability of cast iron as a cooking tool has ensured its survival. Lodge, Wagner and Griswold cast-iron pots and pans from the 19th and 20th century continue to see daily use to the present day. They are also highly sought after by antique collectors and dealers.
However, cast iron has seen a resurgence of its popularity in specialty markets. Through cooking shows, celebrity chefs have brought renewed attention to traditional cooking methods, especially the use of cast iron. In the 2010s, small startup companies such as FINEX, Element Cookware, Smithey Ironware Company, Marquette Castings, Stargazer Cast Iron and Borough Furnace began producing cast-iron cookware designs for specialty cooking markets.
Post time: Nov-07-2018