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If you’re reading this post (and you obviously are), you may have done a web search about the benefits of enamel coated cast iron cookware because you have questions. How safe is it? What are the benefits of using it?
You want the very best cookware. But you’re a savvy consumer, and you’re going to do your research first! Good for you! You have found a place that will give you honest feedback and answers to those questions!
We were all taught, Safety First! So let’s address your questions about the safety of this cookware.
In short, the answer is Yes! In fact, enamel coated cast iron cookware is considered superior in safety than traditional cast iron cookware. This is because the enamel coating prevents iron from entering your food.
Rest assured, the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has given enamel coated cast iron a thumbs up on safety. In fact, they also impose strict regulations on enameled cast iron imported from other nations. They ensure that the materials used in the enameling process meet their stringent standards. In addition, they check to make sure the thickness of the enamel is compliant with all US regulations. It the imported cookware does meet their standards, they are not allowed to be sold in the US.
One caveat to the safety…don’t drop enameled cookware on your toes…it’s really heavy!
To fully understand enamel cookware safety, let’s take a quick look at how the enamel coating process works.
Enamel is created using a glass-like material called porcelain. The cast iron is coated with a blend of the porcelain particles and color particles to the desired thickness. It’s applied to both the inside and the outside of the cookware. Then, it’s fired in a kiln at temperatures from 1000 to 1500 degrees. This high heat fuses the porcelain to the cast iron in a very tight, strong bond and a vibrant colored finish.
The cast iron is permanently sealed inside this porcelain coating, so you can cook without the worry of excess iron or rust particles contaminating your food.
Now that we agree that enamel coated cast iron cookware is, indeed, safe, let’s move on to your other question.
Cast iron cookware is considered by many to be their cookware of choice. And with good reason! Here are a few things we love about enameled cookware
Refer back to the paragraph on enamel coated cast iron safety. As we learned, it’s constructed from porcelain, which is not a metal. Therefore, recipes that you could never dream of cooking in traditional cast iron are cooked quite safely in enameled cast iron cookware.
On a sidebar, I once wanted to impress my in-laws with a delightful cocktail that involved hot, mulled apple cider. I put my apple cider and the required spices into my cast iron pot and simmered it. When my guests arrived, I confidently added spirits and this mulled apple cider to gorgeous Spode Christmas mugs. However, I was quickly embarrassed by the expressions on the faces of my in-laws.
You see, the long, slow mulling process a molecular change occurred in my apple cider. It seems the slightly acidic apple cider reacted with the iron in my pot. It turned out I had served them a mulled bitter apples and brandy cocktail. My mother-in-law was shocked that I didn’t know that you should not cook anything even slightly acidic in cast iron. Lesson learned!
Enamel coated cast iron cookware is available in a virtual rainbow. Every color you can imagine is available. From cheerful reds to funky oranges to sunny yellow to lively green to cobalt blues to dramatic violets, you can find it in enameled cookware if you look for it. Whether you like primary colors, pastels, or earth tones, you can have it with enamel.
These are fun to collect in different colors to enhance the beauty of your kitchen while you cook amazing dishes.
In addition to the colors, the finish on enamel coated cast iron pieces is simply gorgeous. It has a beautiful, shiny luster that doesn’t dull with proper care.
Unlike cast iron, enamel coated cast iron cookware won’t rust. Because it’s a porcelain enamel, there’s no possibility of rust. It’s easy to care for. There’s no need to season it, and cleaning it up after use is a breeze.
As with uncoated cast iron cookware, your enameled pieces will heat beautifully and provide you with consistent and even heat. While the enamel cookware doesn’t get a screaming hot as the uncoated cast iron, it is still plenty hot.
I prefer my enamel coated cast iron cookware over my non-stick pans for practically everything I cook. I feel confident of a good outcome when I use it. It delivers consistent results use after use.
Enamel coated cast iron cookware is incredibly durable. My one piece is my daily go-to pot. It has outlasted several generations of non-stick cookware. When you invest in enameled cookware, you can rest assured that you will have it for many years of use.
In fact, my mother recently gave a piece of her enameled cookware to my nephew who just graduated and is setting up his first apartment. She received this dutch oven as a wedding gift in the 1960s. It still looks like the day she took it out of the box. With care, there’s not a scratch, chip, ding, or stain on this dutch oven.
Because of the nature of your enamel cookware, never use harsh abrasive cleaners, scrape it with a metal scraper, or add chemicals to clean it. Enamel is tough. However, small scratches will result from this poor treatment of your pans.
I use my enamel cast iron 4-quart pan for everything from cooking tomato sauce to baking delicious round loaves of sourdough bread. It is a workhorse in my kitchen.
Most of the time, it cleans up with dish liquid and a sponge to like new condition.
However, on occasion, it may come out looking a little stained. This usually only happens if I cook spaghetti sauce, homemade minestrone, or other tomato-based foods. I’ve actually only ever burnt something to it once, and yet with diligence, it came out looking brand new after cleaning.
Here’s what I do to keep it looking clean and fresh.
- 1. Prevent stains by stirring your food. It sounds over-simplified, but it’s true. As you stir, take note if it feels like your spoon feels like food is sticking to the bottom and adjust the heat. It has worked for me for years, and I have had the same enamel cookware for over 25 years. The stirring helps make you aware if you have food sticking.
- 2. Your enamel can get scratched if you use metal spoons or utensils. Stick with a wooden or nylon spoon.
- 3. Wash up your cookware as soon as possible after using it. It will be far less likely to stain if all the food residue is wiped away quickly. While there are times that it’s not convenient to pop up from the table and wash up, make it a general rule to do so.
- 4. Personally, I have never put my enamel cookware in the dishwasher. The original box indicated it was safe to do so. However, it also stated that repeated dishwasher cleanings can dull or fade the brilliant color.
- 5. Wash it out with hot water and dish soap.
- 6. If staining remains, don’t break out any kind of commercial abrasive cleanser. Your cookware will be doomed. Instead, add a good dollop of dish liquid, fill the pan with water, and place it on the stove for a gentle boil. After it comes to a boil turn it off. Slowly…so that you don’t make it overflow the pot…add about ¼ cup of baking soda. Cover it and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Dump the water and try cleaning it again. The stains will lift right off.
- 7. If you do accidentally burn something, try the same dish soap, boiling water, and baking soda technique. If you still have food stuck on, you may need to very gently scrape with a nylon scraper or the rounded end of a wooden spoon. While the food is still heated up after boiling the dish soap, it should come right off.
While all of these steps sound like a lot of work, they really aren’t. They become part of the ritual of cooking in enamel coated cast iron cookware in time. For myself, I love my enamel cookware and don’t mind a bit of the cleanup. It’s worth the even heat and consistent results that I achieve whenever I go to this favorite piece of cookware.
There are a numbe rof brands that make decent dutch ovens check out our article on Staub vs Le Creuset here
As you can tell, enamel coated cast iron cookware is a wonderful investment piece. With proper care, it will last for decades. It will give you amazingly predictable results. In fact, I bet if you invest in even just one piece, it will become your favorite piece of cookware.