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help! my le creuset is ruined!

  • s

I thought it wasn't possible. I have a 5 qt french oven bought back in 2001 and that I absolutely love using. The last thing I did was boil penne pasta in it last night, and a few pieces of pasta bits stuck to the bottom and dried a bit. We got lazy and left the dishes for this morning. Hubby let the pot soak a bit in water then scrubbed as usual with dish sponge (scotch brite kitchen sponge). Next thing I knew, there are white spots along the interior bottom which upon closer look was where enamel had been chipped away! I know we've had food stuck on it before that came off with a little light pressure and was cleaned and ready to go. What did we do wrong this time? Is there any remedy or do I have to invest more money in a new one?

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  1. First of all, you can certainly use good enamelware with chips in the enamel. So I wouldn't panic. Then, next time, I'd soak it for 24 hours and, if that didn't do the trick, I'd boil it furiously until the bubbles did the trick of lifting away the cooked on food.

    Then, if neither of those makes you happy, I'd head to Costco to pick up one of the 8 quart Le Creuset cocottes they have for $159.

    I have a 5 quart that's been terribly abused over the years. There are rust stains on the enamel from when I've stored the pot on the lid and bleached out spots on the colored enamel where I tried to soak out the rust stains. There are chips in the enamel too. But I can't ever give it up because it has the flat top that they no longer make that makes a very fine gratin or galette on its own.

    1. I actually think that it is very peculiar that the enamel would have been removed by using the dish sponge to remove some stuck on pasta. I'd be tempted to call LC and ask them about it - I think this stuff has a guarantee etc. I've had mine for a good ten years, lots of gunk stuck on and scrubbed off w/o any difficulty.

      1. Get some oven cleaner or Dawn Power Dissolver. What you have there is pasta residue. Just spray on and let it sit for awhile and then using a mild scrubby like a Scotch Brite or a nylon Dobie scrub gently. This has been used to gently remove burnt on cheese on an LC fondue pot. Unless you are seeing the cast iron (black) no real damage has been done and in any case it is still safe to use. This is nothing like the tin lining wearing off copper cookwear which can be poisonious.

        1. I had the same thing (or similar) happen to me with my 20 year old Le Creuset pot and brought it back to the store where I bought it to ask for an opinion about fixing it...But much to my surprise they handed me a brand new one, saying they have a lifetime guarantee...

          1. I have no suggestion for repair, but for stuck food take dish soap and water, fill it and make it soapy and stick it on medium heat. It's like braising meat, and the stuff falls apart. If you have ever known sailors, you will know that they are inherently lezy in that they will not ever put more effort into a job that is needed to get the results they want. A pot of soapy water on the stove is soon a clean pot, and I learned that on board.

            1. A few months ago Le Creuset shipped me two new pots to replace ones that were purchased 25 to 30 years ago. The enamel had just worn off from normal use. They were very accomodating, no questions asked.

              8 Replies
              1. re: desantmj

                Did you send them your old pots? Or just speak to them? I have some old ones on which the enamel is wearing down/off....Did you see black iron? Or was the enamel just thin & somewhat discolored?

                1. re: fauchon

                  Do you have the address or the web site. I have a set that is at least 25 years old and is chipped and has worn enamel. Would love to see if my set is still under warrenty and if they would replace like they did for you.

                    1. re: A Ron

                      Many thanks, will let everyone know if they took care of my problem. again thanks.

                      1. re: birdog

                        Received a complete replacement. Great doing business with a real company. You get what you pay for. A little different in styling but same great quality that you see the top chefs use.

                2. re: desantmj

                  Did they send you back the pots in the original color?

                  1. re: bryan

                    Yes, I did have to send them the old pots. You could see a ring of the metal on one of them, but the enamel wasn't entirely worn through on the other. They had discontinued the very 70s orange color though.

                    1. re: bryan

                      Yes the same, the pans did not have a wooden handle like the orginal but I think its better. Now I can sear on the range then finish in the oven without any worry.

                  2. how about baking soda with water as a mild abrasive?
                    I've used that on my poor battered Creuset when I've done something evil like burn oil...

                    I actually keep one very old Le C frying pan for oil burning occasions - it's very liberating. Someone else burnt the hell out of it before me, and it still works great as cast iron.

                    I don't think I could want or expect the company to take it back - they don't make the wooden handled turquoise sets anymore.

                    1. I had a large stockpot that I always used to make tomato sauce. Over time I noticed that the enamel wore off. I assumed that it was due to the acidity of the tomatoes that I cooked. I sent a letter to Le Creuset and they responded by telling me to return the pot for replacement. Excellent customer service.

                      1. Thanks to everyone who posted the cleaning tips! I left my little Creuset saucepan with milk in it on a low flame for at least an hour. It was black and baked on when I finally realized what I'd done. I tried scraping off with a plastic spatula after it cooled down - it was stuck on there bad, I thought the pan was ruined. I read this post/comments and made a paste of baking soda and water, very thick, and left it on over night. The next day, I simply wiped that pot clean, didn't even have to scrub, and it looks brand new. Not even a stain. Amazing! I told my cleaning lady to use baking soda in the oven from now on. To think of all those years so many of us have been using those horrible, harsh, poisonous chemicals in products like EasyOff, etc. Our mother and grandmothers had it right...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: gorgeousblue

                          This is why Staub is a better product in my mind to LC. As I posted in another cookware thread - I was a 10 year lover of LC - but as the years wore on so did the enamel finish on my pots. They were no longer non-stick and dark and stained. I switched to Staub and I'm so happy I did. I don't have any of those issues anymore. Plus the Staub finish becomes more and more non-stick over time unlike LC.