Cast-Iron Cookware Makes Comeback

The kitchen might not seem the most obvious place to find cast iron straight from the foundry, but in ecological circles traditionally made pots, pans and kettles are making a huge comeback.

The Oigen Foundry is a traditional Japanese family-run business specialising in the production of cast-iron cookware. Located in Mizusawa, Iwate Prefecture and founded in 1852, the firm draws on the region’s nambu-tekki (traditional ironware) heritage which dates back to the Heian period (782-1191) for inspiration in their extensive range of cookware.

So what are the advantages of cast-iron cookware?

Delicious meals
The innate properties of cast-iron cookware mean it can be heated to a very high, but even, temperature making it ideal for frying food or searing meat in a very short time. The flavour is locked-in, producing food such as roast chicken or fried dumplings which are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Cast iron’s thermal storage properties help retain heat, which enables slow cooking and saves energy as the heat source can quickly be turned down. Moreover, cast-iron cookware is very flexible and can be used on any type of hob: gas, electric, ceramic and even induction, as well as directly over a log or coal fire.

No non-stick coating
Once seasoned properly, the pan will become non-stick and it is possible to cook items such as fried eggs with ease. The non-stick property will improve with time and the pans are easy to clean using hot water and a small bristle brush.

Environmentally friendly
In the past, new items were only bought as a last resort and melting down old and broken pots and pans was a normal part of life. Oigen has continued with this philosophy and their Naked Pan range is made from 75% recycled iron. The lack of chemicals used in the manufacturing process means that the products are 100% recyclable. Moreover, cast-iron cookware can have a very long life if cared for properly, so it can be passed on through generations along with the art of cooking and special family recipes.

Heading up the range of cookware from Oigen is the Naked Pan series which is produced using a combination of traditional methods and modern technology. This advanced cast-iron cookware is not coated with anti-corrosive chemicals, but is baked using a certified casting technique which heats the pans to 900°C (1,625°F) in one hour. This method generates an oxidised layer on the surface which not only protects against rust, but is also organic and eco-friendly. Additionally, during the heating process, carbon in the pores of the iron evaporates, reducing their size. As the bigger the pores, the easier the oil sits in, this process renders the pan much easier to season and less prone to stick. Much less oil is then needed to cook, making the Naked Pan a healthier option all round.

This range covers skillets, pans, grill dishes, roasting pans and woks and comes in a range of sizes and depths. All products are available from the www.greenjapan.com website, along with many other items for the kitchen. All items are made in Japan using traditional, eco-friendly methods.

Top left to bottom right: Roasting pan with grill; Kamado Meiijn; Skillet; Stainless kitchen knife; Two-handle pan; Aomori hiba wood chopping board

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