Enameled cast iron cookware includes a range of products from saucepans to Dutch ovens. The enamel coating makes the cookware easy to clean and maintain. You don’t have to worry about seasoning your pans or coating them with oil to prevent rust. Food won’t react to the enamel as it does with cast iron.
Properties of Enameled Cast Iron
Enameled cast iron maintenance is easy, food doesn’t stick to the enamel and resists burning and crusting. Many premium brands of manufacturers feature an enameled cast iron line of products. Staub and Le Creuset rank at the top of these brands. The awesome benefits of enameled cast iron include:
- Blocking iron flavors and reactions from affecting food
- Ability to conduct high heat for searing
- Long-lasting life expectancy of many years or decades
- Conducting heat evenly, which makes it great for soups, stew, chili and baked items
- Easy to clean because enameled cast iron resists sticking
You can find out more about the benefits of this cookware by watching the following video. As you can clearly see from this post at the Pampered Chef, the cookware is stunning. You can use it to cook and serve an amazing variety of food. However, knowing how to clean and maintain the cookware is critical to years of carefree service.
Cast Iron Cooking Properties
Cast iron and its enameled version are known for their ability to conduct heat evenly across their surface. Though cast iron can heat slowly, this often leads to a more uniform heat distribution, reducing the chance of hot spots. Uneven heating can occur when the burner is too small or the pan is heated too quickly.
The vitreous enamel glaze is baked on the metal to create a slick, glass-like surface. The pigments that are used in the enamel process are also baked into the finish. That means that vibrant colors won’t fade and will always appear bright.
Staining is a common problem, but you can deal with stains by scrubbing gently with a nylon brush. For the most stubborn stains, you can use a good enamel or ceramics cleaner. Follow the directions of the cleaner’s label for the best results. Simple cleaning adds extreme value to enameled cast iron cookware because you can use it for years to serve food directly at the table.
Cleaning 101: Simple to Clean Enameled Cookware
Cleaning and maintaining your enameled cast iron cookware only needs a light touch and warm soapy water. A nylon scrub brush is recommended, though dishwasher safe, hand washing is preferred. Avoid citrus-based cleaners, which can dull the exterior appearance of the cookware
How to Clean a Burnt Enameled Pot
You can use the following steps to clean a burnt pot:
- Always let the pan cool before plunging it in water, or the enamel might crack.
- Wash the pan normally in warm water using a scrubber sponge to remove debris without scratching the enamel.
- Soaking the pan for a time helps to loosen burnt-on food.
- Remove stuck-on food using a silicone scraper.
- Rinse and dry the cookware.
You can use ceramics or enamel cleaner to remove stubborn stains. However, you can achieve great results with a home remedy for treating stains. Mix together baking soda and water to form a thick paste.
Apply the paste to the stained area using clockwise or counterclockwise motions. The paste has become mildly abrasive and removes stains as you scrub. The abrasive action won’t damage the enamel.
Seasoning Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
Unlike traditional cast iron, seasoning enameled cast iron isn’t necessary, and generally not recommended, due to its enamel coating which provides natural non-stick properties. Check out the following YouTube video on how to season enameled cast iron. Seasoning makes the cookware even more resistant to sticking and great for pancakes and eggs.
Unfortunately, the enamel isn’t considered to be a truly non-stick surface. Although the baked glass surface greatly resists sticking, it doesn’t work like Teflon. These surfaces were designed to be non-stick, but even those can develop sticky spots over time. Seasoning your enameled cast iron surfaces can improve their non-stick performance.
How to Season an Enameled Cast Iron Pan Against Sticking
After continuous use, the non-stick properties of any pan, regardless of its surface type, can start to diminish. Enameled cast iron has a baked-on finish like glass that should easily repel food. However, you can still season the pan to eliminate sticky spots and improve its performance.
The first step of the process is washing and drying the pan. Seasoning your enameled pan begins with applying a thin layer of oil to the surface. Heat the oil over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, and let it cool to room temperature. Wipe out excess oil with an absorbent paper towel, and you’re good to go.
The seasoning process helps to close small pores on the enamel’s surface. You can repeat the process whenever the pan begins to stick. Seasoning the pans reduces the need to add extra fats and oils for frying. There is a place for copper, carbon steel and even traditional cast iron in a well-equipped kitchen. Enameled cast iron offers many advantages over other types of cookware.
Among those advantages, the ease of cleaning, even cooking and stain and sticking resistance top the list. Health-conscious cooks love that foods resist burning and caramelize well. Seasoning the cookware allows you to cut the fat content of food.
7 Tips to Make the Most of Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
It’s important to test any cleaner on a spot of enameled cookware to be sure there aren’t any harsh, damaging abrasives. Cleaning enameled cast iron cookware can be managed with a mild detergent and a soft sponge.
Tips for cleaning and maintaining your enameled cast iron cookware include the following approaches:
Tips 1. Dutch Ovens
Dutch ovens are often used for slow cooking processes like stewing and braising. What do you do when your favorite baked bean recipe bakes on the side of the pot? You can’t use steel wool and abrasive cleaners because they scratch the enamel.
Try soaking the pot in water for a couple of hours and periodically removing the caked-on crust. The final wash in clean water with detergent and a silicone scraper should restore the natural beauty.
Tips 2. Cleaning Stains
It’s quite likely that you ignore small stains that don’t affect the cooking process. Enameled Dutch ovens are especially vulnerable to regular staining. That’s not a problem unless the bottom of the pot darkens so that you can’t determine the browning level.
You can clean older stains by boiling water in the stained pot. Boil water for 2-3 minutes. Turn off, let cool and clean with a paste made of baking soda.
Tips 3. Soft Cleansers
Soft cleansers work fine for removing burnt food. It’s the soaking process that enables easy removal of food from the glass-like enamel. Any mild cleaner will work just as well without taking the risks of harsh cleansers.
Tips 4. Avoid the Dishwasher
Although safe for dishwashers, enameled cast iron is best washed by hand. Leaving the cookware throughout the dishwasher’s drying cycle can result in several problems. These include spotting and developing sticky spots. You need to season your cookware after running it through the dishwasher, which defeats the purpose.
Tips 5. Avoid Some Metal Utensils
Although simply stirring with a metal spoon is okay, avoid using other metal utensils. Metal spatulas designed to lift food can easily scratch the enamel. Using a knife to cut food is certainly not recommended. The best idea is to stick to nylon, wooden or silicone utensils for enameled cookware.
Tips 6. Don’t Use High Heat or Dry Heat
Protecting your valuable enameled cast iron cookware makes sense. You don’t need high heat because of the even heat distribution, so don’t use it. Enameled surfaces, which aren’t truly non-stick surfaces, should not be used for dry cooking. You need some water or a small amount of oil or fat.
Tips 7. Maintain Classic Le Creuset Cookware
When you invest in a premium cookware brand, it’s important to protect your investment. That doesn’t mean you have to buy rubber utensils. You can use spoons typically as long as you don’t bang them against the finish.
However, you should take care to avoid rapid temperature changes that could crack the finish. Don’t heat an empty pot unless carefully monitoring the seasoning process. Only use high heat temporarily when bringing water or other liquids to a boil.
The Magic of Classic Cookware
You can create magic with enameled cast iron cookware by using this advanced way to cook. Enamel-coated cast iron was probably the first non-stick surface. Engineering is just as effective today with hundreds of new techniques for enamel. Combine the best benefits of cooking with cast iron with the benefits of non-stick cooking.
Michael Johnson is the founder of Pan Mastery, Inspired by his blacksmith grandfather’s legacy has a deep appreciation for hand-crafted pots and pans, he provides invaluable guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your culinary journey.