Cast Iron Skillet : 9 inch
Most valuable, most versatile, most comfortable. Steak and eggs to apple pie - our 9 inch cast iron skillet can do it all. And the lid from our Dutch Oven will fit here as well.
Our cookware has actually been designed with ergonomics in mind, and it shows. The handle on our 9 inch skillet has been called the most comfortable available on a cast iron skillet, meticulously sculpted to fit both left and right hands of every size. More length makes for better balance, and also keeps things cooler for longer.
The interiors of cast iron cookware from Nest Homeware are machined smooth, which makes for an incredible cooking experience. Each handle captures the gesture of a branch from a cherry tree, abstracted into a form that's pleasing to the eyes and the hands.
Every year, food blogs, cooking magazines, kitchen resources, and chefs will make their line up to decide which is the best cast iron skillet. The recommendations from these articles often rate its value with the following criteria in mind: price, quality, design, ergonomics, hand feel, size, weight, ease of use and cleaning.
You’re likely to see many of the same brands, year after year, ubiquitous in their familiarity, available for purchase everywhere from high end kitchen stores to Walmart. Lodge and Le Creuset come to mind, specifically, and reasonably so. They are two very well known brands, trusted for their lengthy history and extensive cast iron cookware collections. They are companies built on tradition, and trusted for it. While these two companies exemplify the wide price range and most common differences of utility in traditional iron cookware, to look at them, they look incredibly similar, almost interchangeable, save for their color and finish.
This most notable similarity between them is because of their adherence to a very traditional design that has existed [and not changed] for over 100 years. Why no change? Some people might suggest that there’s been no change because there’s no need to, that a skillet is a skillet and will be forever… And perhaps, for utility’s sake only, that can be true. But I’d humbly venture to say that this design doesn’t effectively address some of what I’d consider the most crucial points of value in a cast iron skillet. Tradition is obviously valuable - but so is evolution.
Looking at our 9” skillet, it’s incredibly easy to notice a stark departure from the ordinary in our design approach. The most noticeable differences inquired about are the smoothness of the cooking surface, the color of the cookware itself, and the design of our handles.
The cooking surface is certainly notable - machined smooth all the way up the sidewalls. Its contrast to the textured appearance and feel of the exterior surfaces catches the eye for sure, but it also greatly improves performance. Every piece of our cast iron cookware is machined smooth on its interior. Until just under 10 years ago, this would have been a crazy idea, but now it’s the benchmark standard for premium iron cookware - and we were among the first companies to do it. In machining the interior surface, we smooth it out entirely, removing the sandy texture that is so frequently associated with food sticking to it. A smooth surface on cast iron will help your food release easier, which not only improves performance, but also eases cleanup. If food doesn’t stick, cleanup is a breeze.
Next, the color: a lustrous bronzey hue. While this color sometimes invites the question of our cookware's metallurgy, I can assure you, dear reader, what you’re looking at is truly a cast iron skillet, through and through - not a bronze one… The color of our cookware is a result of our seasoning process (To learn more about seasoning, click here). We pre-season our cookware with two rounds of organic flaxseed oil, so that it's ready to cook with, right out of the box. We do this at a temperature of 425º F, which gives us a color that stands apart on a shelf. In use, this color will change, deepening and darkening over time as layers of seasoning build, eventually reaching a rich black.
Perhaps the most differentiated feature of our skillet to any other is our handle.
Upon first look, one can see that it is longer than average, both in absolute dimensions and in proportion relative to the dish of the basin. Functionally, a longer handle does two things: It creates a more even balance of weight [when held], and it slows the transfer of heat to the handle when cooking. Our handle also meets the skillet basin in a forked joint (rather than a butt joint). This increases the surface area of the source of heat transfer in contact with air, which creates a type of heat sync, also adding to the cooling effect (or at least slower warming effect). The combination of the advantages in this design is that there will be less strain on the users’ wrist, handling the inherent weight of cast iron, while simultaneously keeping their hand cooler for longer as they cook, for some meals eliminating the frequent need for oven mitts. Not bad...
As mentioned earlier, skillet design has barely changed in the last hundred years, and this includes not just the length of the handle, but also the shape of the handle, which is short, flat, and oriented in such a way that it dictates the user to rotate their wrist into a position that limits blood flow, pinches nerves, and often strains muscles. For a cooking tool that is likely to be used every day, this is an area that was ripe for improvement. To quote Jeffery B Rogers (The Culinary Fanatic) “The handle is one of the most comfortable available.”
That comfort due to a very specific design approach as well… It goes without saying that handle looks quite different from any other. Long, forked, asymmetrical, and curved, with subtle edges and contours that catch light and invite a touch. These handles were designed to resemble the beauty and grace of cherry branches. Not a direct likeness, but an inspiration of and toward beauty. They were sculpted with that DNA at their root, and made to actually fit the human hand. This is a big deal. Hands are adaptable and will work to hold nearly anything, but good design can facilitate the grip and ease any potential pain points. Our skillet's handle was meticulously sculpted and tested in a variety of people’s hands, both left and right, large and small. It’s a source of pride on our end - we’re incredibly confident in the comfort we provide in the design of all of our handles, our 9” skillet handle being the most iconic in our collection, and arguably the most beautiful in its class.
Beauty itself is not simply a result of these design choices - it is at the heart of them. Cast iron is just that - cast. Meaning that it is molten, liquid metal, poured into a mold and able to take whatever shape it is intended to by its designer. Being able to take any shape, it still stayed the same for over a hundred years, with no attention to form beyond function, let alone any improvement to function. It’s with this understanding that I started my journey into designing cast iron cookware that would be aesthetically worthy of its lifetime as not only a product, but an artful object, an artifact. We state in our mission that we work hard to make products that will feel great in your hands, look at home in your home, and work as well as they should, forever. And we believe that if something is going to last forever, it shouldn't just work well - it should be beautiful.
Beauty is an intangible, subjective criteria by which to judge any cookware, but I’d assert that it’s important. Performance of any tool is paramount for the pragmatic user, but performance does not have to come at the cost of ergonomics and aesthetics. In fact, I’m of the opinion that cookware that is seen as beautiful and feels good in the hand will actually improve a user’s approach to cooking itself. The questions of “How does your cookware feel in your hands? How will it look in your home? How do those things actually make you feel?” can be overlooked when set against a list of performance features and price. But we shouldn’t forget that cooking is often social and can be an extension of an emotional event or experience. Cooking for yourself is self care, in the same way that cooking for someone else can be an act of love. The way your cookware makes you feel can enhance that in wonderful ways. And to that, I’d suggest that a beautiful cast iron skillet is the best cast iron skillet, hands down.
A Few Collected Facts
We've been asked so many questions about our own cast iron cookware, and cast iron in general over the years. We decided to assemble a heap of answers to some of the the most common (and less common) musings and curiosites about this material that we love so much.
Cast Iron Cookware:
- is the most versatile cookware. It can be used for baking, frying, searing, and more.
- is made from a class of iron–carbon alloys with a carbon content more than 2%. Its usefulness derives from its relatively low melting temperature. Cast iron in cookware from Nest Homeware is sourced from and produced in the United States.
- is made from iron that has been melted, poured into a mold made of sand, and allowed to solidify into its final form.
- is prized for its versatility, lasting durability, and even heat distribution.
- is very reliable and resilient and can last for many years with proper care.
- is often passed down from generation to generation.
- is known for its even heat distribution, which means that food will cook evenly across the entire surface of the pan.
- needs to be seasoned before they are used. “Seasoning” is word used to describe both the process of seasoning and the coating created by the process. During the seasoning process, a thin layer of oil is applied to the skillet and heated to a high temperature. This helps to create a natural, non-stick surface, or “seasoning.”
- can be used on all cooking surfaces, including stove top, oven, and grill.
- is typically heavier than equivalent sized stainless steel or aluminum cookware.
- will stay hotter for longer than equivalent sized stainless steel or aluminum cookware.
- typically weighs between 4 and 12 pounds, but the actual weight will depend on the size of the pan.
- weighs between 3.5 and 4 pounds on average (for a skillet or pan). The 9" Skillet from Nest Homeware weighs in just under 4 pounds.
- benefits from a good cleaning and seasoning routine to keep it performing its best.
- should be cleaned with hot water and a stiff nylon brush, sponge, or scrubby cloth..
- should never be cleaned in the dishwasher or soaked for a long period of time.
- can actually be cleaned with soap from time to time, even though some people are vehemently against it.
- can rust if it's not properly seasoned or if it's not dried after washing. Immediately after your cookware is dry, but still warm, add a few drops of oil and use a paper towel to lightly coat the entire interior. Oil protects the cast iron pan from rust and adds to its seasoning.
Cast Iron Through History
- Cast iron cookware was first used during the Han Dynasty in China, around 220 A.D., although cast iron artifacts date even earlier from the early 5th century B.C. in the Jiangsu province.
- Cast iron slowly made its way to Western Europe via the Silk Road.
- Casting techniques became widespread in Europe by the 16th century.
- In 1707, the Englishman Abraham Darby patented a method for casting iron into less thick/ heavy pots and kettles, making them cheaper to manufacture.
- Cast iron cookware was brought to America by the early colonists.
- By the 19th century, cast iron cookware was ubiquitous in both Europe and America
- During the mid 1800’s, three iconic American cast iron cookware brands, Griswold Manufacturing, Wagner Manufacturing, and Lodge Manufacturing were founded, solidifying cast iron’s popularity across the US.
- Neither Griswold nor Wagner make cast iron cookware any more.
- Lodge Manufacturing continues to operate two foundries in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
- Nest Homeware is among a few newer brands manufacturing cast iron cookware in the United States.
About Cast Iron Cookware
What is a cast iron skillet?
Most simplistically, it's a pan made from cast iron! It usually has a round basin and a singular handle so that it can be easily moved around on the stove. They're great for cooking because they conduct heat very well and can be used on any type of stove, including induction cooktops. They can even be used in the oven or oven an open flame.
Cast iron is made from an iron alloy with a carbon content greater than 2%. Iron is created by smelting iron ore in a blast furnace, where the iron is separated from the impurities (primarily carbon) in the iron ore. The carbon combines with oxygen in the blast furnace to form carbon dioxide, which escapes from the furnace. The iron is then poured from the furnace into molds, where it solidifies.
What are the benefits of using a cast iron skillet?
Cast iron cookware is incredibly versatile and can be used for a variety of cooking methods from searing, browning, frying, simmering, to baking. They are also very durable and can last for many years with proper care. Chefs and home cooks alike appreciate that they conduct heat very well so food can be cooked evenly and at a consistent temperature. They can move from the top of the stove to inside the oven depending on what you are cooking.
What's seasoning, anyway?
"Seasoning" describes a hard, protective coating that's formed by heating thin layers of fat (like oil) on the cast iron. As the fat/oil is heated, it bonds to the metal in a process called polymerization. The result, is a hard, blackened coating that protects the metal.
At Nest Homeware, we pre-season all our cast iron cookware with two rounds of organic flaxseed oil, at a temperature of 425º F. All of our cookware is ready to use right out of the box.
How can I season my cast iron cookware?
The best thing to do is start cooking!
Because cooking always involves the use of oils and fats, multiple interlocking layers of seasoning will build up over time on your cookware as you cook, further protecting it from rust, and improving performance. To that end, there is some amount of seasoning that is passive - it simply happens as you cook!
You can also spend dedicated time just seasoning your pan as well. Follow these steps:
1. Wash your pan and dry it completely.
2. Apply a very thin coat of oil to your pan (you can use flax seed, grape seed, coconut, or even canola). Wipe up all of the excess oil and place the pan in your oven upside down.
3. Turn your oven on, and set the temperature to 400ºF, allowing the pan to slowly heat with the oven. When the oven reaches 400ºF, bake for 1 hour.
4. Turn your oven off, and let your pan cool down slowly and naturally inside.
We have some of these details outlined here as well!
How can I clean my cast iron cookware?
While your pan is still warm, gently scrape off any food bits with a spatula, and wipe out any excess oil with a rag or paper towel, then rinse under warm water.
Don’t be afraid to scrub if you need to. You can use coarse salt to help as well. If you’ve got a tough mess, it’s ok to use a dab of soap* along with a nylon brush, sponge, or scrubby cloth. * Some people never use soap on cast iron, and that’s just fine!
After washing, make sure to dry your pan completely. Use a towel - don’t air dry (remember, rust is iron oxide. Wet cast iron plus air equals rust). You can heat your pan on medium low over the stove to help it along if you like.
Ideally, after your pan is dry, and while it’s still warm (not hot), add a few drops of oil and use a paper towel to lightly coat the entire interior. Work it in evenly, wipe off any excess, and let it cool before storing. This thin coat of oil protects your pan from rust and adds to its seasoning.
We have some of these details outlined here as well!