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How to Care for Enameled Cast-Iron Cookware

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Between the ragù article and the chili story, our enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens have seen a lot of use lately, but they still look almost new. Here’s how we keep them that way.

Let a hot pot cool before plunging it into water for washing; otherwise, thermal shock may cause cracking in the enamel.

Soak the pot in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes before washing, especially if it has heavy cooked-on food residue.

Don’t use steel wool or other abrasive pads, which may scratch the enamel.

Instead, try Bar Keepers Friend (a scouring powder available at most supermarkets) or Le Creuset’s enameled cast-iron cookware cleaner. Or try boiling 2 Tbs. white vinegar with 3 quarts of water in the pot for about 15 minutes; then cool, rinse, and wash with soap and water.

Looking for a reason to pull out your pot? Browse a recipe slideshow of cozy One-Pot Meals.

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  • user-220522 | 10/23/2014

    I have a blue enamel cast-iron Dutch Oven that has developed mildew spots on the enamel. I tried baking soda but the spots are still there. Any suggestions what to do? Thanks.

  • BrianFlaherty | 10/20/2014

    Whoops! There's a typo in the last paragraph of my comment: It should read "tweaks" and quirks. . .

  • BrianFlaherty | 10/20/2014

    I cook a lot in both enamel cast iron and clay (or, ceramic). . .And, when cooking with enamel cast iron, I borrow from the clay "bible". . .NEVER pre-heat your oven! It will almost certainly crack the clay; and, would you believe it will also crack enamel? (smile) I always place the pot or "dutch oven" in a COLD oven and let the pot heat up with the oven! I also use an initial heat of about 250; then, increase the heat after a few minutes. In order to compensate for the warm-up period, I simply add a bit to the cooking time. It's worked quite well for many years. . .And, I am using enamel cast iron pots (and, clay pots, too) for close to 50 years and they are in fine shape.

    Another suggestion: Make a list of the various pots in your collection re: size; composition; etc; and, write down any "quirks" or conditions that each pot may have. . .I keep info like this in a loose-leaf binder; same as recipe "teaks" and quirks. . .

    Give it a try. . .you've got nothing to lose. . .

  • Bigbang | 02/13/2013

    elizabeth1 have you tried using dryer sheets? I saw it in Dear Heloise one time. You put water in (was used for glass bakeware and worked. i tried it and got all the brown baked on spots off my glass bakeware. couldnt believe it) in your pot and add the dryer sheet. let it sit overnight. the less water the better because this means more concentrated softness from the dryer sheet. the softness from the sheet is what makes this work i think. ive tried it on my new cast iron enamel i just bought. i accidently had the heat up too high ( enamel cast iron newby here. HOLLA! lol) and caused more than a few black spots that were hard to scrub off. i put 1 gain dryer sheet in it with water, no soap. let it sit overnight. i got it off the next day. i still had to scrub a little, but all of it came off. since yours is soooo stubborn, try seveal dryer sheets. even let it sit for several days. it shouldnt hurt anything. i did use my pot right after and did not have any dryer sheet smell in my food just in case anyone would wonder that. of course, i did wash with soap and water after scrubbing the black off and before cooking in it again. i think, from what im reading online, is that enamel cast iron is best used with medium temps. you can still brown like that. you would just have to wait a little longer until the water dries out from whatever youre cooking. lets say a steak. sear with medium heat. eventually, anything cooking left in a med heat pot is going to dry out. right? common sense. so will the side of steak cooking in the pot. so you can still brown something. just may take longer. whats great about the pot is that your steak will stay moist while waiting for the searing because of the heavy lid keeping in all the moisture. also, from what ive read. do not put anything cold into enamel cast iron while its hot. i think this causes the cracks in the enamel inside bottom of the pot where the food sits. put cold into cold pot, or hot into hot pot. i believe its ok when browing occurs(carmelizing) and you want to make a gravy or to just get the brown off the bottom of the pot, to use room temp water i.e. tap water. the pot is already so hot that the minute the water touches it, it almost instantly becomes warm/hot too. it is not good, like ive said previously though, to add cold to med/hot pot. its a shock to the enamel. i have only cooked two times in my pot. the impression im getting with mine, is that they are made to make a very moist dish due to the heavy lid which keeps in all of the moisture. so, what comes to mind would be smothered chicken, or roast, or anything that requires a lot of moisture. plus, i think med or med/hi heat is all you need with this kind of pot. they absorb and hold the heat so well that hi heat is almost too much. but this is a newby to enamel cast iron talking, but im not a newby to cooking in general. good luck, and may everyone's enamel cast iron last many many years.

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