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Ikea dutch oven - steam escaping

I just got the Ikea 5 qt dutch oven. The instructions say to boil a cup of milk with vegetable oil before the first use, so I thought it would be a good test to see how well the lid fits. After a few minutes I checked on it and noticed that a small wisp of steam was escaping near one of the handles. When I lifted the lid the milk was boiling away and a lots of steam came whooshing out, so it appears that most of it is staying inside. Is this normal? If I'm making a pot roast where the liquid is only simmering, will all the steam stay inside?

I checked about 5 of them before I bought mine, and the fit was pretty bad. Thinking of trying the 6 qt. Lodge from Amazon, but I don't want to have to deal with shipping the monster back if there's a problem with it.

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  1. Try moving the lid this way and that, and also rotating it until no steam escapes. Sometimes it's just a matter of playing a bit with the lid to get a tighter seal.

    1. If you're worried about the steam staying inside, just cover the oven with aluminum foil or parchment before placing the lid on the pan. This bit of insurance should set your mind at rest and allow you to keep your pan.

      1. my first cheap enameled cast iron dutch oven did leak a little and in the oven a tiny drop of water would drip down one side. Not really a performance problem because in braising you really don't need it that tight. Some advocate braising in a pot with only a parchment paper lid so you get some concentration of liquids through evaporation. So even if you can't get it to seal tight I'm sure it will work fine.

        1. Thanks to all. I did try moving the lid around and was never able to get the steam to stop completely. I may try the tin foil trick also. But is there any consensus on a tiny bit of steam escaping? I will never use it for bread, just for things like pot roast, chili, braised chicken, beef burgundy, etc...

          1 Reply
          1. re: foo1024

            The Staub pots have little bumps on the inside rim of their lids to allow a bit of steam to escape I was told, so I don't think a bit of it coming out would be a problem. Meats and veggies give up some liquid too as they cook, and you do want to concentrate the flavors with some evaporation.

          2. Update: I tried boiling some water and then simmering. Once it was simmering I was able to move the lid around until no steam came out. Seems like that should work since I don't plan to be boiling anything with the cover on. Thanks for all the help.

            1. If no steam could escape the pot would explode. A little steam is fine.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rfneid

                Right, even pressure cookers allow some steam to escape. If the liquid in a dutch oven is boiling vigorously, steam has to escape. But, with gentle enough heat, most of the vapor will condense on the lid and drip back into the pot.

                In practice if a pot lid does seal quite well, building pressure will lift the lid, and allow excess steam to escape. Pressure cookers have to be designed to prevent this lifting. Chinese clay pots (sand pots) have a little hole in the lid to prevent pressure buildup.


              2. I've always thought a little steam escaping was normal. In braising I periodically dheck the liquid level. The old Magnalite anodized line was discontinued because the lids fit so tightly they sometimes caused a minor explosion or sometimes couldn't be removed.

                1. Bad castings, poor fit-n-finish seem to be the hallmarks of Ikea's look-a-like cast-iron and enamel cookware.The Chinese-made stuff flooding the N. American market is more decor than cookware. Save up for the real thing--Creuset, Staub, or anything French-made. Lodge is just fine for plain vanilla cast-iron.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Kagemusha

                    It may be cheap and it may be Chinese-made, but I have possibly the cheapest one there ever was and it works great. It has its flaws, sure. The lid doesn't fit quite as perfectly as the French-made pieces I've seen, and the enamel maybe has a tiny bump or few. Cooks fine, it's a 5qt round and we use it mainly on the stovetop but have had it in the oven as well. 30 bucks well spent to dip our toes into the world of enameled cast iron. Now we know we like it and will get more. Ponying up for the expensive French stuff remains to be seen.

                    Point being, I think it's ridiculous to suggest only the French stuff will do. Much of this cheaper stuff is perfectly serviceable.

                    Anyway, it's pretty common for poseurs to want to be seen with the expensive brands as "decor". Cheap stuff as decor in that way would be fairly pointless.

                    1. re: CrazyOne

                      Cast iron is not exactly high tech. The term 'dutch oven' dates back to American colonial days, when dutch produced pots were widely used over campfires and home hearths. Coating steel with enamel is also an old process, common in the 19th century (think of blue speckled enamalware). And China has been producing porcelain ('china') since the 600s. Quality goods in this category could be produced in China just as well as shoddy ones.


                      1. re: CrazyOne

                        Where is it positioned and who is buying? Low end where the wannabees school thickly. Enjoy the reverse snobbery but it's really a matter of false economies--the Chinese-made knock-offs chip and suffer finish issues. Check out the huge quality difference between the crappy Chinese cast-iron teapots and the Japanese-made Iwachu brand items--no comparison.
                        I'll happily pay the extra $ for durability over the long haul. Making a fashion statement isn't in it.

                        1. re: Kagemusha

                          The ikea costs $60 and is made in France.

                          1. re: foo1024

                            Interesting. Similar items in Toronto Ikeas appear to be Chinese like nearly all their kitchenware. I recently bought some Lagostina brand enameled cast-iron in Sears for very little--all close-outs, French-made and dead ringers for Staub with different handles and colours. New Lagostina cast-iron is all Chinese-made and much inferior. Good luck with yours.

                          2. re: Kagemusha

                            I dunno about the teapots, not my thing. I'm talking about enameled cast iron. I cook on a cheap one. The minor differences in fit/finish do not affect the cooking capability, only the price. I have used a LeCreuset 5.5qt round and the cheap $30 5qt round I got at Aldi (the only thing I've ever bought in there, didn't find it of much use for food). It was the LeCreuset I tried first at someone else's house where they had one. Have used the cheap one several times since. Conclusion? The cheap works just as well, even if it's visually not as appealing.

                            I think insisting that only a Staub or LeCreuset will do does a great disservice to those who are thinking about getting an enameled cast iron piece but are unsure because of the high entry cost with these brands. I'm not suggesting there is no difference between a cheapo and a LeCreuset in its fit/finish. I am suggesting that like anything there is a place for different quality levels.

                            We should all be able to laugh at what the poseurs are doing with cookware, high-end appliances, etc. Who reading Chowhound is trying to make a fashion statement with their cookware? My guess: nobody. Which isn't to say there aren't some others like you for whom only the top brands will do, and they make good use of them. Great.

                            Again the point: those who can't or can't justify dropping 200 bucks on a good sized enameled cast iron piece needn't believe it is an all or nothing proposition. $30-50 comparably sized pieces work well too and fit far more people's budgets. I can attest to not thinking I would get much use out of such a piece until I actually had it in my house, so the reason I continue to point this out is so others may have a chance to try one as well and aren't scared away by the idea that they need to pony up megabucks for the top brands.

                            1. re: CrazyOne

                              I do agree that the cheap ones do work well and for the price difference you can replace them several times over 10 years before reaching the ROI of the high end ones. The LC can and will craze and chip if not treated properly. My first cheap dutch oven I abused, made a bunch of no knead bread at 500*, used high heat on the stove and did just about all the things you aren't suppose to do. It lasted nearly 3 years but it was cheap and I admit to the abuse. I'm sure it would have lasted longer had I taken care of it like it was worth $200+ instead of $30.

                        2. re: Kagemusha

                          Yeah, well, my Le Creuset dutch ovens all leak steam around the lid. Mostly because my cooktop won't go low enough, but still. It's a pot, fercryinoutloud, not a hermetically-sealed vacuum chamber.