Worth paying for preseasoned cast iron?
Hi, I realize there was a similar thread recently, but my question is somewhat different.
I would like to buy a new cast iron skillet, and while I've heard good things about Lodge preseasoned products, I've found a no-name unseasoned pan for half the price. The weights and designs are nearly identical. Since I'm on a rather tight budget, I'd rather pay less.
Since I don't mind seasoning the pan myself, is there any real advantage to buying the preseasoned pan in the long term? Is there really such a thing as better and worse quality cast iron cookware?
YES!! It's not that much expensive and the pre-seasoning is a GREAT start! The thing is, just because it's pre-seasoned, doesn't mean it's all ready to go. It just takes to the actual seasoning process SO much better. After usin it to fry a few things, it got all inky and black and slick almost as good as grandma's cast iron...
I found this out for myself when I bought a pre-seasoned 12" Lodge pan about a year ago. I tried using it right away, and found a few weeks later that it had actually rusted in the cupboard. After cleaning it up and going through to season it properly, I haven't had any other problems with it.
What size and style of pan are you looking at? A preseasoned Lodge 10" skillet sells for around $10. Original finish is about the same, depending in part on the store discounts. At that price, why not go with the preseasoned?
If you find something else for much less, try to compare them side by side. How does the weight and finish compare? If it comes with a lid, how well does it fit? From what I've seen on web sites that specialize in dutch oven cooking, I doubt if there is a better quality current brand than Lodge (we are not talking about enameled European brands).
The preseasoning isn't a big deal. If you have never bought or used cast iron (or a steel wok), it may reduce the initial pain of seasoning and using it. Preseasoning starts you on the way, but you still want to work at building up a good working coating of your own.
I don't think I'd pay extra for preseasoned personally. As for differences in quality...I have one large cast iron skillet that belonged to my grandma, no idea where or when she got it. I wanted a smaller one so picked up a cheap one. After a few uses I was pulling some cornbread out of the oven and the handle snapped right off in my hand. Since that time I just make cornbread in the big skillet :)