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Feb 23, 2008 10:15 AM

Le Creuset--is dulling inevitable?

Brand new Dutch oven comes in as a gift two months ago. I've treated it as nicely as a pot can be short of leaving it boxed. I've done and not done everything Le Creuset told me to do and not do. No dishwasher--no scouring--no boiling dry. I bought their own cleaner and wash the thing with Dawn and a sponge. And it's still dull!

Not dull like it was abraided (discernable scratches or wear patterns), or like something was burned on (a pattern, like on the bottom of the pot). It is just a perfectly uniform dull, non-glossy off-white, except about an eighth of an inch away from the exposed iron on the rim, where it still is a little shiny. The inside of the lid is also still glossy.

The dulling hasn't affected anything so far for me. And I understand it is still useable for every purpose I was likely to use it for. I'm only complaining because Le Creuset claims the glossiness of the enamel gives it some non-stick quality and asks you to take precautions and buy special products to maintain it. I feel like I've lost the use of some wonderful part of the pot's potential functionality and the justification for charging 200-800% the price of competing brands.

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  1. Here's Le Creuset cleaning instructions someone had posted and I saved. You might have a film on the enamel from something you used. Try their suggestion of wiping it with white vinegar, and please let us know if it works in restoring the shine.

    For cleaning we would recommend using a laundry detergent such as tide or one that has an enzyme in it. Take one part detergent and three parts water to fill the interior of the vessel. Allow this to boil for about 5-7 minutes. Afterwards allow to the vessel to cool and proceed with cleaning with your dish detergent. If needed, you may use a nylon or plastic type of scrubby to assist. Once your item has been cleaned, take some white vinegar using a soft cloth or paper towel. Rub the vinegar on the enamel, this is used to return some of the sheen back to the glaze. The longer you allow the vinegar to remain on the enamel the more of the sheen it will bring. Your item can be stored away with the vinegar on it until next use. When ready to use, wash and dry.

    1 Reply
    1. are you talking about inside or out?

      If it's inside, don't worry. Mine has the same "dullness"... but if you close your eyes and run your hands on it, does it still feel completely smooth? If so then your non-stickishness will still be good.

      Mine is and it's been 15 years.

      1. No enameled cast-iron I've ever owned was non-stick. The enamel dulls with use. That--pardon the pun--is a baked-in issue that special care might slow but not arrest. Light-coloured enamel also acquires a tanned appearance from use. If that and Creuset's decidedly non-stick characteristics don't work for you, get something with a true non-stick finish or get cast-iron with a gray enamel interior. The real benefits of Creuset, Staub, or any other quality enameled cast-iron are durability and even heat distribution that other stove top+oven-safe cookware can't deliver.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Kagemusha

          I think, perhaps, what was meant was regarding cleanup.

          My LC is not non-stick in the cooking department, but in the clean up, even the most baked on stuff will loosen off with little work because of the "slick" enamel.

          At least that's the way I took it.

          1. re: Kagemusha

            Yeah, I realize that it's not non-stick like Teflon or something, but Le Creuset claims some sort of quality in that regard--perhaps on clean-up as someone has suggested.

            I had requested a dutch oven, but I didn't expect anything quite this fancy--having to worry about expensive cookware is a new thing to me. I would have been thrilled with something half the price and more than happy with something that cost 80% less. I have three uses identified for the thing--stock; spaghetti; and when I get moved to someplace a little bigger, the so-called no-knead bread. I'm considering using it as a small roaster, but haven't had the need yet.

            Maybe getting some cosmetic damage out of the way early is a good thing--I won't be as worried about the thing as much.

            1. re: pyleg

              From the Le Creuset website:

              Handwash with hot soapy water, rinse with warm water and dry. Products are dishwasher safe, but handwashing is recommended. Constant diswashing (sp) may lead to some dulling of the enamel finish. The dulling is not harmful and will not impair performance.


              I have never seen where Le Creuset claims any sort of non-stick characteristic.

              1. re: pyleg

                Where did you read about the "non stick" capability, btw? I actually don't use the LC for stock or spaghetti (unless making a small portion of the latter) because the water does take a long time to heat up. It is great for braises, stews, etc.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  MMRuth, do you use the LC for sautes and pan frying? We're thinking about taking the LC plunge...


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    No I don't - I use a Sitram saute pan for most of those kinds of things, and also as a substitute for a wok.

                2. re: pyleg

                  Don't worry about how much it cost. Just use and abuse it.

                  LC can take it, and what would you be "saving" it for? ; )

                  1. re: pyleg

                    I've not seen any non-stick claims on any LC enamel from LC. I see it all the time on the boards but I think it's a common mistake. Enameled cast iron, simply put, is not non-stick. If it was we could all cook in it without oil. Anyway, NS or not it is a great workhorse in the kitchen, but like another poster it would not be my choice to boil liquids in -- it takes too darn long. Use a stainless steel stock pot or other type sauce pan for that job.

                    As to your original question regarding the dulling -- while I wouldn't worry about it I understand your concern. You've gotten a nice new pot and you'd like to keep it nice. I find that the interior color and shine of my LC changes daily based on what I cooked in it last. They are always clean but sure, there are occassional "stains" -- from searing meats maybe or maybe something else. I don't know. Like I said I don't care too much. But if you really want it off and shiny try a regular cleaning followed by the LC formula cleaner (or Barkeeper's Friend) followed by a rinse in clean water. That usually does the trick. But I'd also urge you to consider just letting it go and cooking with abandon, interior dullness be damned. And definitely try roasting or braising something in it. I did a slow/low pot roast in the oven overnight and it was just the most beautiful thing this morning. I can't wait to get home and eat dinner.

                    1. re: redgypsy

                      >>I did a slow/low pot roast in the oven overnight and it was just the most beautiful thing this morning.

                      Sounds intriguing! Would it be too much trouble to post your recipe on the Home Cooking board? I'll bet there'd be a bunch of folks that would love to try it. I know I would.

                      1. re: Cpt Wafer

                        Cpt Wafer -- no recipe to speak of. Rubbed the roast with a mix of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and put it in at 170 degrees (the lowest temp my oven would go) for 2.5 hours a pound. I got the idea from a great Washington Post story about a month/month and a half ago. It also has no recipes but does give a guide for which cuts of meat to buy.

                        And it was delicious. We'll have the last leftovers tonight in cold roast beef sandwiches. MMMMMM.

                        1. re: redgypsy

                          redgypsy, thanks for the reply. I was able to find the two articles on the Post's site. I know what I'm having for dinner this weekend.

                3. I wonder if it's possible that the formulation of the interior enamel is different in newer LCs than in old ones. I keep reading here about dulling and staining and I've never had either problem. In fact, I was just cleaning mine a couple of hours ago and I took a really good look at it. Except for a couple of the tiniest scratch marks, probably done with a metal spoon, the interior of my 25-year-old Dutch oven could pass for brand new. And I don't baby it at all: Comet, Chore Boy or plastic scrubber, and Barkeeper's Friend for any stains. And it's never acquired a "tanned" appearance, either. I guess I just have to chalk it up to another advantage of being old. I bought most of my kitchen equipment, like my Oster Blender and Hobart Kitchen Aid when they still made good, sturdy, long-lasting stuff.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: JoanN

                    I had one person tell me at Le Creuset that they have improved the enamel over the years. Another told me it was the same. I had a Flame set in the early eighties and it didn't do well at all. The interior stained, and became worn quickly and in less than a dozen uses you could see the base metal through the enamel which looked a bit greyish because of it. Everything stuck to it too. The matte black interior on a frypan had areas of rust on it, and had worn too after a short time. Le Creuset gave me the value of the pieces in new ones.

                    The people who have used an oven for 25-30 years and still have it look brand new, I wonder how often it was used. Did you sear meat in yours, or cook things like beets, blueberries and other usually staining foods? Searing at higher temps seems to leave permanent brown marks. With new advances in chemistry and glazes it seems reasonable that the Le Creuset glazes would have improved, but I too hear more about the older ones holding up better.

                    I've switched to Staub because of the staining issues and because it develops a nonstick patina over time, and it's just prettier, but I do prefer the lighter interior. I really wish that LC stayed looking new inside and unstained, but that doesn't seem to be the case with most peoples. One person wrote that some of theirs stained and some didn't. Maybe there are unavoidable variations in the glazes and the temps they are fired at.

                    1. re: blondelle

                      I guess I also don't understand why anyone cares about whether the inside of the pot is stained or not? It's not like I display mine on its side with the lid off for people to see the interior. Does "staining", for those experiencing it, affect the performance of the pot? I sear things on the highest flame in the LC and no scorching etc. - or none that doesn't clean up right away - and I've never used anything other than soap and a scrubby thing. I'm starting to think I must have some magical LC pan ;-) .

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I feel like mine have "stained" over time, but as I said in another thread about the staining, to me it just seems like the sign of a well-used piece of cookware. It does not seem to have any adverse affect on the performance. It's not non-stick and never was. It was always easy cleanup and it still is.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          All of my LC insides look like new, despite quite a bit of hard use. That said, I always use bartender's friend on the insides--it's a polish as well as a cleanser, so it removes everything, including any detergent residues.

                        2. re: blondelle

                          I couldn't even begin to guess how many times I've seared meat in my LC. Probably an average of once a month for 25 years. And I'm not one of those people who heats it slowly over gentle heat, etiher. Afraid you'll have to look elsewhere for why my LC looks almost brand new. I just wish my oven did as well.

                          1. re: blondelle

                            ^^This was the same reason I switched over to Staub too. After 10 years my LC was stained - but more then that the interior was very broken down. The gloss was gone as was its wonderful non-stick ability. As mentioned the Staub interior gets better and better with use - the LC's gets more and more broken down. JMO!

                        3. I'm thinking this concerns you b/c you've read past posts from people who have switched to Staub b/c the finish doesn't dull and becomes more nonstick over time?

                          I read those posts and think that it's great they've found something they like better. But on the other hand, Le Crueset is the brand leader (IMO) and still has a great quality. I made a major investment at Christmas time (buying 2 buffet casseroles and 2 dutch ovens in various sizes). They are all the kiwi lime color and I hope to get a few more pieces in this color before they ever discontinue it. They are gorgeous pots, and more importantly my cooking has never been better! While not nonstick, I have been very happy with the inside surface and its cleanability.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: warneral

                            I agree. And, as I found out recently, great warranty and customer service. Broke the lid to LC dutch oven recently - entirely my fault - and they are sending me a new one at no charge to me.