My Scottish Granny loved cooking on her griddle. It had been in the family for generations and she was delighted when she finally inherited it. She called it a girdle, which always made us laugh as that made us think of lingerie, and my Granny wasn’t exactly a “lingerie” type of woman. Her knickers were the type that went over her tummy, and after thirteen children that was a feat indeed. In fact, I only recently found out that Scottish traditional griddles, are indeed, known as girdles.
These Scottish girdles are a type of cast iron flat pan with a large hook that can be hung directly from a hook above the roaring fire. A griddle is an investment that should last more than one lifetime and for that reason I would suggest buying the best you can afford. Of course, with such an investment it is quite essential to maintain your griddle properly, thus maximising its longevity.
Any pot or pan is heated and cooled many times, this results in changes in the solidity of the metal. Warping is a result of one part of a pan subtly changes its shape more often or at a different rate from another. Griddle pans are particularly susceptible to warping because they have no sides as such. The pan sides aid rigidity, because they provide a direction for the pan to go. Thin flat pans often curve under the strain of direct heat.
Following repeated use, soft metals (like copper or aluminum) almost always warp, especially if they are thinly constructed. Harder, more resistant metals, such as carbon or stainless steel, resist warping somewhat, but are also much more difficult to flatten, when they do warp. It is also important to bear in mind that cheaper pans are much more likely to warp than more expensive ones, it really is worth investing in the best quality griddle you can realistically afford.
There really is nothing worse, than investing in an expensive piece of kit and to find it quickly ruined. It is, however, perfectly possible to fix a warped griddle in a few easy steps.
1. Cut a piece of wood (slightly longer than your pan, if it is bowed outwards and slightly shorter if the pan bows inwards)
2. Put the griddle on the stove and heat on medium high.
3. Heat up your Griddle.
4. Allow the griddle to get very hot (this will take around 15 to 20 minutes).
5. Using a pot holder, to remove the pan from the stove (take care not to burn yourself)
6. Place the pan on a durable surface with the bowed side facing up.
7. If the pan bows outwardly, rest the lip of the pan on a flat surface without allowing the handle touch the surface. A stair is ideal for this.
8. Place the wood across the centre of the pans crown (where it is most bowed)
9. Use a wooden mallet to bang on the piece of wood, at the bowed section, repeatedly.
10. Stop when the pan has cooled.
This method really works, however, it is much better to take steps to try and prevent the warping from taking place at all.
The trick to caring for a cast iron griddle, is never to put cold water in a hot pan. It is important to wash your pan in warm water but do not submerge it and never, ever put your cast iron griddle in the dishwasher.
When buying stainless steel, but a good quality heavy base and it will last for many years. As with the cast iron, it’s best to wash your good quality pans by hand, they really do benefit from being treated well.
You may also wish to look into hard anodised aluminium griddles. These are often non stick which is quite an attractive proposition. If you opt for hard anodised, particularly non-stick, steer clear of the dishwasher, otherwise the coating will come off and the pan will quickly look grubby. I find the anodised aluminium pans the most likely of all to warp, even those specifically marketed as anti-warp.
You can’t go wrong with Le Creuset cast iron cookware and their griddle is no exception. I like their large griddle, it is expensive and very heavy but will last forever.
It looks beautiful and a few artistic photos of your fine meals laid out on your beautiful Le Creuset griddle would be fine in a frame for your kitchen. There is nothing more magical than photos of your own culinary creations, except perhaps photos of your children alongside your culinary creations.
Of course, for every chef who loves cast iron, there is one who does not. Hard anodised aluminium griddles are available for every budget and are often marketed as anti-warp. Thicker based anodised aluminium griddles are certainly less likely to warp than their thinner (and cheaper) counterparts and many chefs do favour them due to their conductivity.
However, all aluminium products are susceptible to warping and for that reason alone I prefer cast iron. I do, however have a stainless steel griddle with a thick base and it has lasted me for years. If you opt to purchase stainless steel, look for a professional quality griddle which has a very thick base, the Broil King Professional Griddle is currently the best on the market.
I do hope you find an heirloom griddle that you can pass down through the generations. Nothing makes me smile more than thinking of my Scottish granny’s griddle, except perhaps the picture I have in my mind of making pancakes in years to come with my own grandchildren and my griddle.
There is nothing more special than family in a home kitchen and for that reason alone I would never skimp on cookware and kitchen utensils, high quality products really do stand the test of time. Please share this article and include comments below, especially if you discover the perfect griddle.