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Purchasing Cast Iron Dutch Ovens

I am looking to purchase a good quality Dutch oven. I am well aware that Le Creseut and Straub are the best but I am not willing to spend over $200 for one. I am debating between a Mario Bartali ($99.95) and a Schulte-Ufer ($39.99), both from Homesense. Anybody have an opinion?

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  1. If you don't want to spend the $ on Creuset I would stay away from enameled cast iron and go with regular cast iron. I have 2 creuset and they are well worth the investment. Friends and colleagues have gone with lower end ones and have had problems, especially with Chinese made enameled cast iron. Another problem they encountered was getting warranty work done when the enamel bubbled or the pot developed a crack. Most of them ended up buying Creuset in the end therefore not saving any money.

    Don't forget that Homesense often gets discounts by buying defective items and by also agreeing not to return defective items to the company. They buy the lot as it. That being said you can get some great deals there.

    4 Replies
    1. re: applejuice

      Lodge also has a line of enamel coated- https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefron...
      Prices for Lodge products are usually much better at Amazon than from them directly (and better shipping costs) but don't know if they carry these (they are often out of stock of many of Lodge's odd sizes and shapes).

      I've seen a different set of Lodge branded enamel cookware at Wal-Mart recently (I only go in there to buy grapefruit soda but I do look around [g] ...). These were very cheap and Chinese-made which surprised me considering Lodge's usual PR. I *thought* the ones in the link were US made- certainly the price difference suggests that.

      1. re: JessKidden

        I e-mailed Lodge and asked where their Enameled Cast Iron was made. Ms. Reba Wooden of their customer service dept. wrote back promptly--it is made in China.

        1. re: JessKidden

          I was looking for dutch ovens on amazon.com. Initially, I was looking to see if they had the Mario Batali one on sale. They were still too high for me at $89.99 even with free shipping. Then I came across a Lodge enameled cast-iron 6-quart dutch oven in Caribbean blue for $39.99 with free shipping, regularly $77.50 and $14.50 for shipping. I purchased it and received it yesterday afternoon. It’s a great looking pot and heavier than a bowling ball. I can’t wait to try it out. I think I’ll make some chicken cacciatore in it this weekend.

        2. re: applejuice

          buy the Le Creuset everyone i have is worth the moneyLe Creuset does have a couple of outlet store and they carry seconds for relly good deals it is most often the glaze didnt set right but there as good as the first grades i plan on picking up a 15 qt oval this month

        3. I think that enameled cast iron is one of those things that you really have decide what you want to do with it THEN decide how much you can spend.

          For oven use/stove top braising/stewing/deep fat frying/stocks/sauces a large iron pot can be a do-everything utensil.

          For the mass and the flexibility of the lid design (all metal, holds ice) there is no beating Staub. Shop for a deal on ebay. Le Creuset is not quite as useful, though it is more widely distributed -- occaisionally showing up in TJ Max or other discounters.

          I have seen the Mario Batali stuff, but the enamel work does not have the same look or feel as the better brands and I have no experience with how well it will hold up.

          No experience with Schulte-Ufer , price seems too low -- what size is that???

          For a non-enamel coated dutch oven Lodge is a great, put the limitations of uncoated cast iron mean there is trade off in wear/acceptable uses...

          5 Replies
          1. re: renov8r

            Both Dutch ovens are 6 quart. The Schulte-Ufer is from Germany and the company is relatively new in Canada. It is a black uncoated cast iron pot with a coated bottom and glass lid. I can't seem to get any info on this product and there isn't much on the net. Thanks for your help.

            1. re: Cheers

              The glass lid would be a deal breaker for me. Oven baked risottos and other oven roasted covered dishes need the heavy cast iron lid. I think the glass lid would rattle around and not give the same results as a cast iron lid. I would also make sure that the glass lids are replaceable. I have glass lids on my stainless pots and can't wait to get rid of them.

              1. re: applejuice

                I have an old cast iron 'chicken fryer' (about 20yrs) with a glass lid. The lid is about as heavy as an iron one, so there is little problem with rattling. It's been durable, with just a bit of chipping around the edges. I also have a couple of lighter weight glass lids that came with aluminum or stainless steel pots. Those have metal trim ring, and separate knob. The heavy lid has an integral glass knob.

                The glass lid is nice when checking for browning, such as with a non-knead bread loaf.

                While an enameled pan has advantages when cooking acidic foods that would strip the seasoning of plain cast iron, the enamel is not renewable, and not as non-stick as a good seasoning on cast iron.

                paulj

                1. re: applejuice

                  By definition a Dutch Oven should not have a glass lid. The idea behind a Dutch Oven is that heat radiates from all sides of the pot (bottom, sides and top) just as it does in a real oven. Since glass doesn't conduct heat, a dutch oven cannot and should not have a glass lid.

                  1. re: heWho

                    I believe mine is called a chicken fryer, that is, a deep cast iron skillet with a lid. It has a pan style handle, as opposed to a wire bail. Yes the glass lid is an insulator, but it gets as hot as the oven, same as the iron, though maybe a bit slower. As such it will radiate heat just like an iron lid. I have been using this pot for the no-knead bread, and I believe it works just as well as a similar sized iron-lidded DO.

                    I believe the name 'dutch oven' originated with the cast iron pots cast in Holland, and widely used in the American colonies. One or more DOs were a vital part of the Lewis & Clark expedition equipment. In one use, Dutch Oven cooking refers to cooking with coals under the pot, and on the lid, emulating an oven with heat above and below. To do this you need a lid with a rim to hold the coals. I have a couple of pots of this type, and 8" iron one, and 10" cast aluminum. For this use, the lid does need to be metal like the rest of pot.

                    Come to think of it, enamel and ceramic are forms of glass. They do not conduct heat well, but have a high heat capacity. As metal go, iron is also a poor conductor. For most DO types of cooking, high thermal mass is more important than good conductivity.

                    A good seal between lid and pot is also important, helping retain moisture during slow braises. You can, though, improve the seal with foil, or dough 'caulking'.

                    paulj

            2. I have the Mario Batali one (bought it off Amazon when it was on sale, around $79?) - the interior has stained slightly in the 6 months I've had it, but not to a terrible degree. I find it incredibly useful, especially when making dishes that require stovetop-to-oven transfer. Plus, it's pretty. I don't have a Le Creuset or Staub enameled cast iron dutch oven to compare it to, so can't make that comparison. But so far, so good.

              1. I have the Mario Batali and it's fine, I received it as a gift from my Mother and I really didn't feel like I could ask for Le Creuset and still be a sweet daughter. I find the 6 quart size a little limiting though and I think what you'll find is that you'll want another, probably in an oval shape, very soon. I tend to use it for braising roasts and/or making stews and even though I only cook for 2-4 on a regular basis 6 qts isn't enough space. My honest suggestion is to figure out a way to afford a Le Creuset. In the end all the Batali one does is make you want a better pot...and you've already spent $100.

                3 Replies
                1. re: redgypsy

                  I agree that you should try to get a Le Creuset. You can definitely find sales on various websites. I bought my first one from Caplan-Duval when they were having a big sale.

                  http://caplanduval2000.com/index.html

                  I have also requested (and received) them as gifts for birthdays, which is nice. Most recently, I bought a brand new 5 quart round dutch oven on ebay. It was a good deal.

                  Many people have also seen them at places like Marshall's and TJ Maxx. I can't vouch for that, but I have occasionally seen good deals on LeCreuset at Costco.

                  1. re: valerie

                    Does anyone know anything about the Cuisinart brand cast iron enameled cookware? They are frequently on sale at TJ Maxx.

                    1. re: dallas brent

                      You might want to start a new thread; this one has been around quite a while.