Cast iron cookware has excellent heat retention properties, and can be produced and formed with a relatively low level of technology. Seasoning is used to protect bare cast iron from rust and to create a non-stick surface.
Types of bare cast iron cookware include panini presses, waffle irons, crepe makers, dutch ovens, frying pans, skillets, bakers, deep fryers, woks, flattop grills and griddles.
Cast iron has been used for cooking for over 2,000 years. Cast iron pans were used as early as the Han Dynasty in China (206 BC – 220 AD) for salt evaporation. Cast iron cauldrons and cooking pots were treasured as kitchen items for their durability and their ability to retain even heat, which improved the quality of cooking. In Europe, before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the middle of the 19th century, meals were cooked in the fireplace, and cooking pots and pans were designed for use over a fire. This meant that all cooking vessels had to be designed to be suspended on, or 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 up in the fireplace. In addition to dutch ovens, which were developed with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, a commonly used cast iron cooking pan called a spider had a handle and three legs used to stand up in the coals and ashes of the fire. Cooking pots and pans with legless, flat bottoms were designed when cooking stoves became popular; this period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet.
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