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Please help- I burned my precious Descoware

vvvindaloo Sep 4, 2007 03:33 PM

I came up with the bright idea to sear a pork shoulder in a Descoware enamel-coated cast iron pot. The meat was already treated with a rub of many spices, including plenty of brown sugar, but there was no fat or oil of any kind. I used the pot all day, and made a fabulous faux pulled pork after 7 hours of low-temp cooking. But the bottom of the pan is still covered with stubborn black crust. I am kind of upset about it, as this is actually part of my mom's Descoware set that she received as a wedding present long ago. I have tried scrubbing with baking soda and a gentle sponge, as well as overnight soaking with delicate dish soap. So far, very little progress. Can anyone give me further tips? I can't give up yet.

  1. j
    JanMarieH Mar 6, 2010 11:22 AM

    I'm sorry this is so late... but the absolute BEST way to remove burnt on crud is to put a tablespoon of STRAIGHT clear non-sudsy ammonia in the pan and cover it. Leave it overnight. Don't add anything else. I think it's the fumes that eat at the burnt-on mess. This also works with oven racks, the BBQ grill... anything. Just put the big thing in a garbage bag, add a 1/2 cup of ammonia and let it sit overnight and outside. The biggest problem is opening the bag/pot afterward... open a window!! Fumes are toxic smelling, but it works and the elbow grease is cut to a minimum.
    My mom had the whole Descoware collection of pots 'n pans, as well as a lot of stovetop Pyrex... with 3 daughters learning to cook, we had a lot of burnt pans... she used to boil straight bleach in the pan until it all lifted off.... it worked, but again, the smell seemed rather toxic. We learned to be more careful!

    1 Reply
    1. re: JanMarieH
      vvvindaloo Apr 3, 2010 06:11 PM

      thanks for the reply - even if it was late, it was new to me! :)

    2. vvvindaloo Sep 7, 2007 11:47 AM

      After several days of attempting several methods, I got around to the dishwashing powder method yesterday. I usually use either liquid or tablets in the dishwasher, so I never really have powder around. I decided to break up the tablets and make a paste. I covered the bottom of the pot with the paste and let it sit all day. Last night, before going to bed, I added about five cups of very hot water, covered the pot, shook it around a bit, and left it there... I found about half of the gunk floating around in the water today! Without the slightest bit of scrubbing! I used the rougher side of a sponge to rub off whatever else I could while the soapy (now black) water was still in the pot. I was left with about 1/3 of the original amt. of black stuff (for the sake of comparison, I'd say maybe 1/5 of the total came off all together after using the previous combos) so I made another paste and will repeat. Hopefully, this will do the trick! A great big thank you to everyone for their suggestions- this was a really big deal to me. And a special shout out to Stephanie Wong for this particular idea :) I am glad to say that it works! I did notice some staining remained where the bits had been- maybe a bleach wash will take care of it once I get it clean? In any event, stains I can live with!

      1. OldDog Sep 5, 2007 09:23 PM

        I've seen it written that using a fabric softener sheet will help. Put the pot in the sink, cover the burned on stuff with warm water, add sheet and let stand overnight. Never tried it myself, but it sure can't hurt. Good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: OldDog
          t
          tobycat Sep 5, 2007 09:51 PM

          I learned about the fabric softener sheet trick on this forum. I haven't tried it, but that poster had success with it, if I remember correctly.

        2. j
          JOJOGIRL Sep 5, 2007 06:55 AM

          This is not something you can quick-fix. Keep soapy water in the pot and over the course of 2 or 3 days, sit with the pot and rub a little at a time. If you stand at the sink you give up too fast, its a job.

          1. Joe Blowe Sep 4, 2007 03:46 PM

            Bleach. My mom uses it in her Descoware, and I use it in my Le Creuset. One teaspoon per one pint of water to start...

            P.S. You're being too gentle. Enamel is pretty tough stuff.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Joe Blowe
              vvvindaloo Sep 4, 2007 04:00 PM

              Thank you for the tip- are you saying that scrubbing with bleach is effective for stuck-on crust, or for a stain? This is actual bumpy stuff. You're right about my being very gentle, I am afraid of causing further damage. I don't know why I assumed that searing in Descoware was a good idea... but I won't do it again!

              1. re: vvvindaloo
                chocchipcookie Sep 4, 2007 06:28 PM

                Sorry , we were out to dinner....okay, the next trick I can think of is to try running it in your self cleaning oven cycle. No oven cleaner of course. If the bleach doesn't work try this. Let me know what happens! I once read that this works on cast iron but I don't know about coated cast iron....

                1. re: chocchipcookie
                  vvvindaloo Sep 4, 2007 10:04 PM

                  thanks for all of your help, chocchip. so far i have tried scrubbing with baking soda, simmering vinegar, boiling water, and soaking overnight with dish soap. next up: bleach and/or oven cleaner (which I have read that others spray directly on to the pot). It does seem to come up little by little, but just a few crumbs at a time. At this rate, it will take weeks of soaking, scouring and scrubbing!

                  1. re: vvvindaloo
                    m
                    mpalmer6c Sep 4, 2007 11:23 PM

                    I had something similar happen when I cooked fudge at too high a temp. After trying all the usual stuff (boiling, scouring, soaking with pure detergent, etc), a fair amount of crud was left. So I just kept on using the pan and all the stuff gradually came off in dribs and drabs. Didn't affect the flavor of anything at all and was visually unnoticeable (though I didn't try
                    making white sauce).

                    I doubt that using oil in the pan would have helped. Juices from the meat will still carbonize. Cooking in foil or with liquid will give better results (and keep checking to see that the liquid doesn't evaporate)..

            2. chocchipcookie Sep 4, 2007 03:40 PM

              okay, try this....put it back on the burner with about 1/3 water and a few sqiurts dish soap. Bring the water to a rolling boil and it should deglaze some of that stubborn sludge on the bottom. I don't know if this will work with coated cast iron and it can't hurt by trying but I have used this technique when I get burn spots on my stainless.Good luck!

              3 Replies
              1. re: chocchipcookie
                vvvindaloo Sep 4, 2007 03:57 PM

                thanks, cookie. about how long should i boil for?

                1. re: chocchipcookie
                  vvvindaloo Sep 4, 2007 06:03 PM

                  I didn't have too much luck with this- I ended up boiling for a good 5-10 minutes, waiting for something to happen- no dice. I actually used SS tongs to grip a non-abrasive scrubber and see if I could loosen the gunk while the water was still hot. I got some minor crumbs up, but not much satisfaction... I am trying vinegar next.

                  1. re: chocchipcookie
                    Stephanie Wong Sep 5, 2007 12:44 AM

                    Have you tried just coating the burnt crust with a thick paste of dishwasher detergent and water and leaving it on for hours (overnight)? (I'm assuming that the enamel is not cracked from excessive heat. Dishwasher detergent is very corrosive and may help break up the crud and spare you some pot scouring.) This has worked on my Descoware, which I purchased circa 1976 and still use semi-regularly. Good luck!

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