- Food and Cooking
Enamel Cast Iron Cookware
Enamel Cast Iron Cookware is Sturdy to Cook With and Pretty in Your Kitchen
Enamel cast iron cookware is really good to cook with because it is relatively heavy and the heat coming up from the stovetop diffuses evenly. It's much less likely to burn than conventional pots and pans. It can go in the oven for baking... it's so attractive that you can serve from it at the table... and you can store food in it in the refrigerator.
Available in a variety of designer colors, this cookware comes in a range of prices. There are quite a few brands, and my favorites come from the American company Lodge and from the top-of-the line French company Le Creuset.
It lasts and lasts, too! Great for wedding gifts, birthday and holiday presents, or your own kitchen. Dutch Ovens (also called French Ovens... by the French!) are one of the most popular products.
Who isn't it for? It's not for anyone who would have trouble working with somewhat heavier pots. These are pretty heavy. But otherwise it's an excellent choice.
I became introduced to this cookware when I had just graduated from college and I was living in a small town in France. They had weekly street markets, and at one of those I bought a bright and cheerful small frying pan. It was enameled whilte on the inside and a multi-toned orange on the outside and on the lid that came with it. I carried that frying pan around Europe in my backpack and eventually brought it home. Soemwhere along the line, I gave it away, but I have some others now.
All photos credit: Amazon.com
Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Ovens - Versatile, for stovetop, or oven! Probably the most popular kind of these products...
Dutch ovens are incredibly versatile. I use mine just about every day. They are good on the stovetop and also in the oven. The American brand Lodge offers better prices than the French Le Creuset.
My first one came to me when a friend was cleaning out her storage unit. I helped her, and she gave me a nice Le Creuset one, bright yellow. I used it for years and eventually gave it away.
The one I have now, I have had for quite a few years and I expect to hang onto it. I use it on the stovetop more than in the oven, but I've done both. One of my favorite dishes uses up summer squash, whether I have way too much from my garden or buy some: slice and simmer the squash with an onion until it is about done. Beat 4 eggs, pour them over the veggies, turn the heat way down low, and wait... not too long. Yum!
The largest of this group.
A low one, good for dishes like that squash one I described.
Larger, of course it holds more!
Same as the blue one above.
Dutch Oven Cooking and Recipes
How to cook with a Dutch oven? You can use it in many of the same ways you would any large pot on the stovetop... I use mine for stir-fries and soups all the time.
For stir-fries, I can use little or no oil if I put in a dash of water in the bottom. When I do cook only with oil, it takes less than in my conventional cooking pots because of the heaviness of the bottom, which makes burning so much less likely that I can't remember the last time I scorched anytime.
But you can also use your Dutch oven for making great casseroles in the oven. Just below here I list a cookbook with a unique and very easy way of making one-pot dinners with a Dutch oven.
Also, in the oven you can do all sorts of baking. Cakes are my favorites.
A Dutch Oven Cookbook - It Has a Lot of One-Dish Meals, Easy to Make
Dozens of readers like this cookbook! Some do point out that Dutch oven manufacturers may say to use their products up to 400 degrees in an oven, where the author often recommends 450. Me, I'd go with 400 and a few more minutes...
PROS and CONS
Can be expensive
Too heavy for some people
A Couple of Square Cast Iron Enamel Skillets - Great for frying, stir-frying, egg dishes, bacon and more! Here are some at Amazon:
The square shape is fun... you can use the same space as a round one on the stove top but cook a good bit more. Nice for bacon as it starts out in long strips.
Cast Iron Cookware: Enamel or Plain?
It's partly a matter of personal taste whether someone likes their cast iron cookware plain or enameled. And here are some facts about the two kinds that can help you choose:
Although the porcelain enamel process used in making the enameled cast iron cookware involves extremely high temperatures and is very durable, you do have to be somewhat conscious of how you handle the enameled pots, or else they could scratch or chip. The lower the quality of the cookware, the more likely this is to take place. (Of course if it does, it's just plain cast iron underneath and you can still cook with it.)
On the other hand, the plain cast iron cookware rusts easily if it is left wet, even briefly. We have a plain cast iron skillet, and often when we cook in it, we just can wipe it out with a paper towel and it's ready to use again. But if it needs some cleaning with water, once we are done, we always put it on the stovetop, turn on the flame, and dry it immediately that way.
There are methods of "curing" a plain cast iron pot, and lots of opinions on what the best way is. Figuring out what method you like and doing it can be a hassle.
In my mind, the plain cast iron wins hands down for campfire cooking. I don't take my enamelware camping but you can. If you do, some liquid dish soap rubbed on the outside of your Dutch Oven will keep it a lot cleaner -- and do be aware that it can't go right in the coals as it can't take the extreme heat that just plain cast iron can.
But in my kitchen, give me enamel cast iron every time!
Why Le Creuset and Lodge are My Favorites
Likely some of the other brands are good too...
Le Creuset is the French company that began making enamel cast iron cookware, back in 1925. It is still made in France at their foundry, and there is a video below here showing the process. From what I have read, Lodge and most likely other companies use essentially the same process, though they may not go to quite the high temperatures in the enameling process -- this matters because any possible toxicity of minerals in the enamel will be less accessible at the higher temperatures.
So that is one reason that I like Le Creuset a lot. Also, it happens that my first enamel cookware was of that brand, so I have a lot of happy memories, and I trust it.
But what with the extra care taken with their pots at Le Creuset and what with the salaries in France being higher than in China and what with the Euro not being a bargain compared to the dollar.... Le Creuset cookware does end up expensive. Don't go into debt for it! But it is proven to be so very durable that it is a great investment that you and future generations can use for a good long while. It comes with a lifetime limited warranty for the original purchasers.
I've been reading all over the internet about different brands of cookware. What I noticed that Lodge is a very trusted brand. Now there are other brands that people like, but I chose to just stick with these two because I am convinced of their quality and their safety. Yes, Lodge does have their enamelware manufactured in China, but the process appears to be well monitored.
Something else I really like about Lodge is their eco-resposibility. I like this kind of cookware in general because it's good for the environment in being a durable product, so the way that Lodge describes how they recycle and do other sustainable practices is another plus for them. That link on "eco-responsibilty" goes to the page on their site that explains this.
Their cast iron cookware without enamel is excellent too.
How Le Creuset Cookware is Made
This video, made by LeCreuset, shows the manufacturing process. Interesting to see why each pot is unique!
Please note that if you click through to Amazon.com from here and if you buy something, Squidoo and I may share a commission, at no cost to you. Clicking on some of the other links might also yield me some commission. I appreciate the income, as it enables me to spend time doing writing like this.