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Griswold Cast Iron Skillet is perhaps one of the most sought after cast iron cookware around. Their cast iron skillets often goes for 100 plus on ebay. What they are most prized for are their light weight construction and smooth interior. Collectors see this as a sign of an even more nonstick cookware. However, those characteristic are actually a sign of a bad cast iron skillet. If you compare it with a modern day lodge skillet, you will see how it is actually inferior in terms of performance. This review will take a closer look at how Griswold designed their skillet. We will see how it stacks against lodge.
Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Review Quick Summary
|Categories||Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Number 8|
|Compatibility||Gas, Electric, Halogen, Glass Top, Induction|
|Country of Manufacturer||USA, Erie PA|
|Thoughts||One of the most sought after cast iron skillet by collector. However, the lighter construction and smooth finish actually makes it perform worse. The Chef Series by Lodge will actually perform better.|
Griswold Manufacturing History
Griswold Manufacturing was a cast iron manufacturer that was around from 1865 to 1957. It was founded in Erie Pennsylvania by Matthew Griswold. They made a wide variety of products such as hinges, thimbles, stove furniture and more. It wasnt until the 1870’s that they started manufacturing cookware for home use. The company soon developed a reputation as one of the finest cast iron manufacturer in the world. They expanded their products to Kettles, dutch oven and even waffle irons. Unfortunately in the 1940’s competition from rival manufacturer put the company in financial constraint. The company was eventually closed in December of 1957.
Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Design
This section will discuss the design and construction of Griswold Cast Iron Skillet. We will go over general shape and performance. The Skillet Model that I have has a italicized griswold lettering with Erie Stamped on the bottom.
Over the years, the shape of a cast iron skillet seems to have stayed the same. They all have that same tall side wall with two spouts on either side. The problem with this is that it is not a true skillet. A skillet should have low flaring side that helps in the evaporation of liquid.
Their design actually resembles more of a saute pan than a skillet. They are more suited for braising and shallow frying food. But in terms of searing, the tall sidewall can actually trap moisture.
More modern design cast iron skillet design like those from Lodge Chef Series actually fixed this. Those skillets have a lower sidewall and a rounded corner. This lets you flip and turn food more easily with a spatula.
The handle is quite interesting as well. Both the modern lodge and griswold skillet uses these dinky little handles. What is different is how smooth the griswold is. The sides have no unfinished burr like you will get with a modern day lodge skillet. At first glance, this may seem like a good thing. But a little texture is actually important in improving grip. If anything, the smooth finish is counterproductive and can cause it to slip if its greasy.
One interesting thing to note is that the griswold skillet has a divot on the bottom. I wonder if it is there to improve the grip.
Griswold Cast Iron Skillet Thickness and Weight
One of the most notable thing Griswold Cast Iron Skillet is how light it is. It comes in at a mere 3.8 lb. Compare it to a lodge skillet of equal size, that weights 5.2 lbs. That is over a lb difference in weight. In terms of thickness the griswold comes in at a thickness of 3.15 mm. While the Lodge skillet has a thickness of 3.88 mm.
There are a few issues with making a lighter weight cast iron. Namely is heat distribution. Contrary to what the marketer will tell you, cast iron are poor conductor of heat. They develop a lot of heat spots and takes a long time to heat up. One easy way to overcome this is by making it thicker. This way when the pan comes up to temperature, it will have an even heat and hold it better. By having a lighter pan, you are reducing the benefit of having a heavy thick cookware.
Non Stick Performance
Cast Iron skillets are known as the original nonstick. They develop a film called seasoning. It is a polymerization of fat on the surface of the metal. The seasoning will protect the pan from rust and make it nonstick. You can cook eggs in cast iron and make it move around like a hockey puck. Overtime, it will only improve in performance.
Collectors out there will tell you that the smooth surface will make the pan more nonstick. This is not true. What makes the cast iron skillet nonstick is actually the seasoning and not the smooth surface. A rough surface actually helps the pan hold on to the seasoning better. That is the reason why modern day cast iron skillet have a rough surface. They hold onto the seasoning better. While it is true that a smooth surface might perform slightly better. The bulk of it is from the seasoning. For the average consumer, a rough surface is better.
Is Griswold Cast Iron Skillet the Best?
Based on my observation far from it. Modern day skillet from manufacturer are much better. The biggest different that I see is the fit and finish that you get from the older skillet. The griswold skillet is just more well refined. The skillet feels nicer and has less burr. However, in terms of real world performance, the edge goes to Lodge. Its thicker and it holds onto the seasoning better. I imagine the only reason why it goes for such a high price is rarity. Collectors value things that are more rare more. If you want a skillet for everyday use, I recommend that you get a lodge skillet.
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