Enameled cast iron cookware has been used for over 100 years, and is a durable and long-lasting form of healthy cookware. It can withstand high cooking temperatures, making it ideal for searing and frying. When cooking with cast iron, the heat is evenly spread throughout the entire cooking surface, and holds that heat for a long time.
The one drawback to regular cast iron cookware is that some iron can leach from the pan into the food you are preparing, especially if the food is acidic, such as tomatoes, lemon, etc. The small amounts of iron that end up in your food is minimal, and can actually be a slight benefit to those who have iron deficiencies. However, some people are sensitive to excessive iron, and excess iron in your food can lead to a "metallic" taste. An alternative to plain cast iron is to use enameled cast iron cookware.
Due to its tough and durable baked-on enamel finish, enameled cast iron cookware does not have the same leaching effect as plain cast iron. This tough enamel coating prevents rusting, eliminates the need for seasoning, and makes cleanup just as easy as plain cast iron.
Keep in mind that when looking to purchase enameled cast iron cookware you will be paying for more than just regular cast iron, as the process of enameling adds to the price, with the more durable enameled pieces usually sporting a higher price. However, the quality and brilliance of the color of each piece cannot be beat, and it will retain its beauty and value for many years with proper care. Lower priced versions more likely to chip or flake, even with normal use.
There are several brands of quality enameled cast iron cookware available today. Some of the more popular brands include Le Creuset, Lodge and Staub.
If you want top-of-the-line enameled cast iron (and are willing to pay top dollar), Le Creuset cookware is the way to go. It is heavier (and thus sturdier and provides better heat distribution) than most of the less expensive models. It will withstand temperatures up to 450°F and if you care for it properly, such as being sure not to use metal utensils or steel wool that could scratch the enamel, it should last in good condition for many years.
Le Creuset cookware does tend to be heavier than many other enameled cast iron pots, but that is a positive feature, as it allows for the most even heating of your food, preventing "hot spots" where some food can burn. The bottoms remain flat, and the flush edge between the lid and edge of the pot allow for a tight seal. The beauty of Le Creuset's brilliant colors means your cookware can go from stovetop or oven directly to your table since they make elegant serving dishes as well, and your food will remain warm due to the cast iron's excellent heat retention.
Le Creuset's customer service is reported to be excellent, and they are good at honoring their products' lifetime warranty, even when the enamel has just worn down due to normal wear and tear over the years. This is essentially what makes the higher price worth the cost.
Lodge cast iron cookware began manufacturing in the 1800s and is a family owned and operated business. Their claim of making the best cast iron cookware in the world is backed up by the fact that some of the frying pans and Dutch ovens they made over 100 years ago are still in use today. Lodge cookware has a reputation for making quality durable cookware that lasts for years.
Lodge manufactures several lines of cast iron cookware, from their basic line, known as Lodge Logic, to the top-of-the-line enameled cast iron known as Lodge enamel. This series has all the classic qualities of cast iron coupled with style and color. The enamel coating on Lodge cast iron cookware is supposedly chip resistant and can be used on just about any cooking surface. It can even be placed in the refrigerator or freezer. However, they do not advise using it at temperatures over 400°F.
Staub cookware may be the best of all worlds, offering high quality enameled cast iron cookware at a slightly more reasonable price than Le Creuset.
Staub gets consistently high marks for its durable enamel coating, tight-fitting lids and excellent cooking performance. Its lids also have condensation spikes to evenly baste your food, which the Le Creuset doesn't. In addition, the knobs on Staub cookware lids are made from either nickel or brass, so it can withstand very high oven temperatures, unlike the Le Creuset's bakelite knobs. Of course, you can always replace the Le Creuset knobs, but when you are already paying top dollar for their enameled cast iron cookware, why should you?
Cleanup is reported to be a breeze with Staub's matte black enamel interior, which will not show stains as some white enameled interiors will, and becomes even more non-stick with use.
Search this site: