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Imagine a nonstick pan that has no artificial coating materials yet releases food better than Teflon. You don't have to worry about PFOA, or whether preheating your pan has caused chemicals to be released, or any other chemical nonsense. Now, picture having the same pan in 50 years and having it be better than when it was new. That's the glory of cast iron.

The key to cast iron's anti-sticking ability is in the seasoning. When you first get the pan, it will likely have a factory-applied coating. You can start using the pan with this "pre-seasoning," but many prefer to clean that off and apply their own. If you keep the factory seasoning, the pan will start out with okay stick resistance, but will develop more as you continue to use it in the next several weeks.

After you've used it for a while and cared for it according to the directions it comes with, it'll get enough seasoning on it to easy match Teflon's capabilities. This seasoning will be made of the various cooking oils and fats that you've put in it yourself, so you'll never have to worry about what is working the magic.

What's really great about cast iron pans is that you don't have to worry about the coating starting to flake off into your food. You also don't have to worry about how hot the pan gets. Cast iron's truly an excellent material for pans, pots, and dutch ovens because of how tough it is.

If you've just moved to your first apartment or house, you might not have room for a giant set of cast iron cookware. It's a good idea to start with a skillet and perhaps a Dutch oven. A griddle is another good thing to pick up, especially if you like to cook pancakes. Also, remember that a skillet can also be used as bakeware to make cornbread and other goodies.

Here is a selection of good starter pieces for what is sure to become a collection of cast iron cookware that will last not only through your lifetime, but that of your children and their children as well.

 

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Skillet, 12-Inch, Item L10SK3
This 12-incher is a good all-around skillet for frying. It has plenty of room, so you won't have any problem fitting everything into it.
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Lodge Pro-Logic Square Griddle, 12-inch, Item P12SG3
When it comes to griddles, square is the way to go. A square shape makes it easy to fit bacon strips all the way across or cook 4 pancakes at the same time.
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Lodge Pre-Seasoned Dutch Oven with Dual Handles, 5-Quart, Item L8DOL3
Dutch ovens are great for cooking stews, soup, pot roast, and more. A cast iron pot is great not only at home, but over a campfire or barbecue as well!
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Lodge Pre-Seasoned Square Grill Pan, 10.5-inch, Item L8SGP3
Enjoy pan-fried food without the fat using this square grill pan. The indentations allow fat to run off away from the food and give cooked items that great grilled look.
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