What kinds of appliances and tools belong in a sustainable kitchen?
First off, what do I mean by sustainable? This term gets kicked around very loosely these days, especially when corporations and government need to greenwash something that is in reality quite unsustainable. When I say sustainable, I’m looking at several factors, some of which include:
- Is it dependent upon electricity or other power source?
- If so, how much power does it use?
- What materials is it made from?
- Where was it made?
- How long will it last?
The first bit of kitchen tools that I am chomping at the bit to cover is cast iron cookware. I’m in love with cast iron. I can’t get enough of it! Here’s why I love cast iron cookware in another bulleted list (of which I am also fond of using):
- Seasoned cast iron provides a non-toxic, non-stick surface superior to synthetic non-stick surfaces which can leach poisons into food.
- Cast iron provides a very evenly-heated cooking surface.
- Clean up is ridiculously simple- and requires no scrubbing and no soap.
- It is widely available both used or Made in the USA.
- Durability? Come on- it’s cast iron. It’s not going anywhere.
- The non-stick qualities of cast iron improve with use over time- you will be handing these pans down to your kids.
- Need to keep something warm for a while after cooking? Cast iron is excellent for holding heat.
Granted, cast iron is heavier than your average modern skillet. But, it’s worth the extra weight.
Clean up is about as easy as it gets. Scrape any food bits out of the pan, rinse it off with hot water, wipe dry, and wipe with a lightly-oiled cloth to protect the iron. Soap would remove the seasoning and the non-stick properties of the pan. This saves my soap for other items. Reducing consumables is a good thing in my book!
One of the biggest reasons that cast iron belongs in your kitchen is it’s source. New cast iron made by Lodge Logic is almost entirely made here in the USA. They do have their enameled cast iron manufactured in China, but all of their other products (as of this writing) are still made right here.
Another great option for cast iron is to purchase used cast iron on eBay. Cast iron cookware used to be machined until very smooth, and that added a great deal to being a non-stick surface. New cast iron isn’t as smooth. You can feel tiny little bumps in the surface if you glide your finger over it. Please keep in mind, however, that those bumps are tiny, and while not the glass-like surface of older cast iron, it is still exceptionally non-stick. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it. (My two favorite pieces pictured above are actually new cast iron.)
If you want to try out a cast iron pan, a 10″ pan is a good place to start. Check around on eBay, especially for the name “Griswald”. You may have to re-season it (not hard to do), and there may be a shipping fee, but Griswald is a great name in cast iron. You can read more about them here.
If eBay doesn’t have the size or shape pan or dutch oven you want, or if you want a pre-seasoned pan and don’t want to pay for shipping, check on Amazon. Lodge Logic sells just about any kind of cast iron cooking item you could want, and it qualifies for free “Super Saver” shipping. I’ll make it easy- here’s a link!
Cast iron from Lodge Logic