Cast Iron Chronicles: Expensive (or New) Isn’t Necessarily Better

Cast Iron Skillets
Field Company (left), Lodge (center), and Victoria (right) cast iron skillets

Back in June of last year, we told you about how we’d ordered a couple of cast iron skillets from the new Field Company and were excited to discover for ourselves if they were superior to our existing stock. To our chagrin, we found that the “pre-seasoned” skillets rapidly lost their non-stick properties, despite using good amounts of fat when cooking, and soon, everything was sticking to the pans. In addition, unlike our other cast iron cookware (we use primarily Lodge, but have recently added a Victoria skillet to the lineup), the Field Skillet began to show a weird section on the bottom of the pan that appeared strangely smooth and discolored. The pans also heated very unevenly, despite being allowed to come up to temperature for 15-20 minutes prior to cooking in them.

Displeased, we contacted the company, only to be advised to just keep cooking in them to build up the seasoning. They also informed us that all cast iron heats unevenly and will have “hot spots”, and included a link to an article written by a chef. Really?? That’s the best you can do, to advise us to “stay the course”?? The company’s response is attached below for your entertainment.

Field Company's response
Field Company’s email response to our concerns

Frankly, we were annoyed at Field Company’s blithe response and with the pans themselves. These skillets were nearly four times the cost of the ultra-dependable Lodge cast iron we use daily. It was really looking like a bad buy. We stuck the skillets in a cupboard and figured we’d use them for camping someday…or send them to the scrapyard.

Recently, however, we decided to try re-seasoning the pans, just to see if it made any difference. Ultimately, it did make a difference – after thoroughly scrubbing off all residual seasoning and performing the seasoning process four times. Yes, four times! With our Lodge pans, one round of seasoning is all we have ever had to do to get a solid base layer.

The Field Skillets now seem to perform as we originally expected: food cooked in lard or oil will slide fairly easily. Are we happy with the pans and would we recommend them to others? No, for the following reasons: the pre-seasoning didn’t perform as expected; the overall value; and the company’s response.

One of the reasons we were interested in Field Skillets in the first place was the claim that they were lighter than standard cast iron. We weighed the three brands’ #8 sized (10″) skillets and they came in as follows:

  • Field Skillet: 4 pounds, 5.2 ounces
  • Lodge: 5 pounds, 4.8 ounces
  • Victoria: 4 pounds, 9.5 ounces

As you can see, Field Skillets are lighter than the other two (though not much lighter than the Victoria), but we think the “pro” for lighter weight is offset by the “cons” of (1) the lack of pour spout and (2) the poor pre-seasoning.

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Looking for some cast iron that we can recommend as a good value? Lodge (made in the USA) makes great cast iron products: pre-seasoned pans keep their seasoning, they heat evenly, and they even offer enameled cast iron options, which are great for cooking acidic foods like spaghetti sauce (we have both). Another company worth looking at is Victoria (made in Colombia) – we recently purchased one of their skillets and have been pleased with it. Victoria’s skillets have a slightly longer handle and more prominent pour spots than Lodge’s, which is helpful, and are priced competitively. Both are solid choices, and will keep cast iron enthusiasts happy. While a minor inconvenience, we have noticed that the Victoria pan’s pebbled surface seems rougher than Lodge’s, so it will pick up lint residue if you don’t use a lint-free cloth to wipe them down (i.e., a paper towel will lint it up).

Want more information about cast iron skillet brands’ performance? Read Epicurious.com’s evaluation of six brands here: https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/best-cast-iron-skillet-pan-reviews-article.

Our review is based solely on our experience with the cast iron mentioned – we neither receive any compensation from nor have any relationship with any of these companies.

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