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Beyond Cast Iron: Homestead Cookware That Will Last Forever

Beyond Cast Iron: Homestead Cookware That Will Last Forever

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The homestead lifestyle is generally one centered on frugality, self-reliance and going back to basics. These characteristics can all apply to the kitchen. Just visit any cookware or kitchen supply aisle in a store and you will see a huge array of gadgets all promising to make cooking easier.

More often than not, though, these gadgets or “must-have” appliances don’t work as well as marketed or they end up living in the back of a drawer or cabinet because you really never use them. Perhaps you do enjoy them but find that they break easily or that nifty non-stick coating on your favorite pan is already chipping. You can save a lot of money in the long-run and improve your cooking experience by investing in simpler, basic cookware and kitchen utensils – some of which your grandparents or great-grandparents used.

Everyone has their own way of cooking or preferences for certain types of cookware. But in general the following kitchen equipment will be used quite often in the homestead kitchen.

1. Cast iron cookware

Cast iron definitely has its place in the homestead kitchen and honestly, even just cooking with cast iron makes you feel a bit like you’ve gone back in time. It also has a lot of benefits, such as:

  • It isn’t expensive and will easily last many generations.
  • It is naturally non-stick (when properly seasoned).
  • It retains warmth very well.
  • It is extremely versatile (on stovetop, in oven, over campfire, etc.).

Cast iron doesn’t really have any disadvantages, but there are some things to keep in mind. First off, most basic cast iron pans aren’t going to have some type of handle to prevent you from burning your hand like other pans. Even I have made the mistake of grabbing the handle while I was busy cooking and not paying attention.

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Secondly, some novice cooks complain they don’t like cooking with cast iron because the food sticks badly, it’s difficult to clean, or their pots/pans started to rust. This is unfortunate because all of those issues are solely due to improper care. Simply put, cast iron cannot be treated like other metal cookware. These pans must be seasoned and cleaned in a specific way. If you care for your cast iron cookware properly you will find they are great cooking tools.

Check out articles here and here on how to care for your cast iron.

2. Stainless steel cookware

Aluminum pans are cheap but stainless steel pots and pans are what you should invest in. Stainless steel is more expensive but you will get a heavier pan that is better at holding in heat. A well-made stainless steel pan is thicker and will sit much better on a stovetop. Stainless steel is also non-reactive, so you don’t need to worry about pitting from salts or acids if you use common sense.

3. High-quality knives

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A dull knife isn’t just a pain to use but also can reduce the quality of your food by crushing while cutting. A dull knife is also more dangerous than a sharp one – the reason being is that you have to apply more force with a dull knife and if you slip, you are more apt to cut yourself.

If you enjoy cooking, you really need a good set of knives and a knife sharpener. There are a lot of different kitchen knife brands out there, so I recommend doing your homework before buying. Good kitchen knives are an investment. They aren’t cheap, but they will easily pay for themselves. Good knives should outlast your lifetime easily. You don’t need to break the bank to get new knives. I recommend replacing your underperforming knives with new ones over time, starting with whichever style of knife you use the most.

4. Glass or ceramic bakeware

If you are someone who loves baking your experience in the kitchen will be much more pleasant with high-quality bakeware. Although you can find really great bakeware that isn’t a brand name, there are two name brands that are exceptionally impressive – Pyrex glass bakeware and Corningware. You can often find Corningware that is still in great shape at thrift stores or garage sales. Heavy, thick and well-made glass or ceramic bakeware is going to last for many generations.

Bonus Advice

Finally, I like wooden cooking utensils. The sound of a wooden spoon stirring around a pan is quite lovely, plus you don’t need to worry about scratching metal or non-stick cookware. Wood won’t react with acidic foods while cooking, either.

Some people do worry about bacteria in the wood grain, but the same can happen in plastic or metal utensils. Just wash your wooden utensils after use and be sure they are dried immediately. Wood spoons can easily last a lifetime when cared for properly.

What are some of the most-used pieces of cookware in your kitchen? Please share in the comment section below!

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  1. Agree with your choices. I have cast iron cookware, all le Crueset which is ceramic coated, that has been used daily for almost 40 years. Recently, due to some arthritis I have had to add a 2 qt stainless steel saucepan.

    Wooden spoons I received at a bridal shower some 48 years ago are still going strong altho they are no longer rounded at the end, seem to have gotten a little worn on one side.

    My knives are Chicago cutlery, again from a bridal shower. Have added a full tang serrated edge bread knife.

    • I loved my Le Crueset until I accidently burnt spaghetti sauce and it pitted all over the bottom! I’m afraid to use it again. Is this a normal reaction to acids? I’m really mad because this was my go to pot for years!

  2. If you can find “old” pyrex glassware it’s fine. However, after the Pyrex name was sold (China) the glassware has a tendency to “explode” if it’s dropped, jarred or hit wrong. We had a “new” measuring cup fall out of the over counter cabinet, hit the sink and literally explode into powder and glass shards, all over my wife and the floor. Took quite awhile to mop up all the powder, shards (sharp!) and pieces. We immediately discarded all the new Pyrex brand items we had purchased, and replaced them with plastic.

  3. I have been slowly switching over to cast iron pans and getting rid of my non stick pans. I already noticed a huge difference in cooking times (cast iron is quicker because it retains heat better) and I enjoy cooking more with them.
    I was a chef by trade so cast iron cookware was a given in any well equipped kitchen.. Keeping the pans clean is a snap.

  4. Cast iron is cheap??? maybe the junk made in china stuff, which is thin and not worth owning. Only buy Lodge, or other heavy duty made in the USA cast iron ware. Antique stores are a good place to look. Lehmans has a good line of quality cast iron cookware. they are veeerrry heavy, so if you’re used to walmart cheap chinese aluminum junk, you may be put off. We cherish our CI cookware, and our grandkids will too if they’re smart. Or, you can keep using your aluminum junk cookware, and contribute to Alzheimers in your family. Your choice.

  5. Yes good cast iron lasts & lasts till your daughter leaves in the campfire in the woods to rust thru… I too have a deep dish pie plate that was my grandmothers’. Don’t make like they used to. Somewhere either on line or in magazine, I read that wooden utensils have the woods natural anti-bacterial properties. But if you accidentally leave on the burner-they’re no good anymore. Even Chicago Cutlery doesn’t stand up to grandkids chopping drawers.

  6. “Aluminum pans are cheap but stainless steel pots and pans are what you should invest in. Stainless steel is more expensive but you will get a heavier pan that is better at holding in heat. A well-made stainless steel pan is thicker and will sit much better on a stovetop. Stainless steel is also non-reactive, so you don’t need to worry about pitting from salts or acids if you use common sense.”

    I spent over 20 years as the executive chef at first class hotels and private country clubs.

    You do not want stainless steel stockpots,or saucepans due to the fact that any time you cook a dish like chili,or a heavy tomato sauce for pasta,beans,stews,etc. the foods will stick to stainless steel pots and pans unless you stand over them stirring constantly.

    That does not happen with heavy bottomed commercial kitchen grade aluminum pots and pans.

    Try cooking over a fire,or on a woodstove with stainless steel pots and pans-you’ll either only do so once,or you have the time to stand there constantly stirring whatever you are making,and doing nothing else,you will not be able to let it simmer as you perform other food prep/cooking,or cook more than one thing at a time.

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