How to care for an enameled cast iron Dutch oven
The popular Dutch ovens produced by Staub and Le Creuset are enameled cast iron pots. Enameled cast iron cookware is covered with a vitreous enamel glaze coating that eliminates the need for seasoning and prevents rusting. An enameled cast iron piece can be washed more thoroughly that bare cast ironcookware because of the coating.
Here are some basic tips for the maintenance of enamel cast iron Dutch ovens:
• Prefer hand washing to dishwashing: Even though most enameled Dutch ovens are dishwasher safe I would recommend you hand wash them. It doesn't take so much time to do it, especially because enameled Dutch ovens are almost nonstick. The repeated use of the dishwasher (and the dishwasher detergents) may eventually dull the enamel finish of your Dutch oven. This doesn't mean that you cannot use your dishwasher for washing your Dutch oven but do it from time to time.
• Don't use abrasive cleaners and metallic pads: Although enamel cast iron can be washed more thoroughly than bare cast iron, there is a limit to it. Please be gentle to your pots because after all they are a valuable asset. Abrasive cleaners and metal pads can damage the enamel. It's wiser to use nonabrasive brushes or sponges. As we already have said quality Dutch ovens are almost nonstick so you won't need to use force very often to clean them. I have read that some people use bleach to clean the stained interior of their Dutch ovens, but don't do this. I know that Dutch ovens with a light colored interior get stained with use (and there is nothing you can do about it) but bleach contains chlorine and it will dull the enamel and damage it. Still, if there are some resistant food residues left after the cooking just fill the pot with warm water and leave it to soak for 20 – 30 minutes and then wash it using the above mentioned method.
• Don't wash it before it has cooled down: before you begin washing your Dutch oven make sure it has cooled. The contact between the cold water and the hot pan can cause thermal shock causing cracks in the enamel. A Dutch oven that has cracks will eventually start to rust and you will have to replace your pot with a new one.
• Always dry your Dutch oven before storing it away: after you’re finished washing it dry thoroughly your Dutch oven. You can use absorbent paper or a cotton towel and wipe the remained water and moisture. I would advise against drain drying. Don't store your Dutch oven away while it's still damp. For storage choose a dry and clean location, and store the Dutch oven with the lid off to ensure air circulation.
Cast iron Dutch ovens are very durable pieces of cookware that can last for generations. Following the mentioned procedures you will be able to pass your beautiful enameled cast iron pots to your grandchildren.