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Sep 28, 2009 12:21 PM

Longevity of Emile Henry Bakeware v. Le Creuset Stoneware

I've had some Emile Henry baking dishes for more than 12 years and two of them cracked within a few months of one another. According to another post on this board and the sales associate at Sur la Table, 12 years is a good lifespan for an Emile Henry baker. Now that I'm shopping for replacements I'm wondering whether the projected lifespan for Le Creuset stoneware is any better than that of Emile Henry. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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  1. I have had both brands and the Emile Henry always cracks which I find unacceptable considering the cost and I will not purchase anymore. I have used Le Creuset for several years with no problem. Although not made in France, I believe the quality of the LC to be better and they clean up better as well.

    1. I have a piece of EH that's at least 30 years old and possibly much longer. It's the heavy red clay with the salt-colored glaze that they haven't made in forever. I kick myself regularly for not having bought it in all the sizes way back then.

      Then I have the colored outer glaze/white interior glaze that CAN NOT take any heat over about 375˚. I lost a lot of pieces before I figured out that it was intense heat that was doing it. I'll never buy that stuff again. I probably wouldn't have bought any EH again except for that fabulous first workhorse piece I got.

      I have bakeware from the Poterie line that had a colored glaze in the interior and halfway up the exterior sides. It's wonderful to bake in. I haven't lost a piece at baking temps yet and the clay does a great job of providing a gentle, sustained, even heat to baked goods.

      Finally, I have a number of the new Flame pieces that are intended for very high oven and stove top temps. I love, love, LOVE this stuff and pieces that I've seared meat at the top heat my range could generate and pieces that are in constant use still look and function great after a year of real workout.

      I don't have any LC stoneware. No particular reason; I just don't so I can't advise anything about that.

      6 Replies
      1. re: rainey

        Not that it's any big deal but LC Poterie is stoneware.

        1. re: Cpt Wafer

          Not sure what you mean by that. But the Poterie line was EH's.

          1. re: rainey

            There is a Le Creuset Poterie line. I have a small, rectangular baker from that line. Perhaps both companies have such a named line. After all, poterie is simply the French word for pottery.

            1. re: nofunlatte

              Yes, it's a reasonable name for both of them to use but I didn't realize LC also did.

            2. re: rainey

              I misread your original post. My sincere apologies to you.

              1. re: Cpt Wafer

                None necessary in the least.

                I learned that LC also has a Poterie line.

        2. I have some LC stoneware, and no problems, but I don't use it that much.

          But LC aren't particularly known for their stoneware.

          1. Every piece of stoneware that I have ever had has cracked or crazed. Except for the relatively new pieces that haven't done it yet.
            The only pieces that have stood the test of time are porcelain bakeware by Pillivuyt or Apilco. Some of those are more than 40 years old and I've bought some vintage pieces from eBay that may be older than that which are in perfect condition.
            Yes, the initial cost is higher but they last and last. And they look wonderful, even elegant. Just as good for everyday or on the most formal table.
            There are some less expensive versions now available at Sur La Table. Plain white porcelain. Currently on sale.

            10 Replies
            1. re: MakingSense

              You're right -- crazing is almost inevitable. Even so, a thoroughly crazed piece can continue to give excellent service. But some of the EH snaps in half at high temperatures or develops cracks that are not limited to the glaze but involve the clay from interior to exterior. I think that's what Velda Mae was probably concerned about.

              1. re: rainey

                I think that there are food safety problems with using crazed pottery, stoneware, or dishes of any kind with food.
                Bacteria can get into the tiny cracks and grow.
                If you soak the piece in water, you can see that the water will penetrate into the pottery under the glaze. Do you really want to eat out of that if food residue has gotten down into there and spoiled or hosted bacteria?

                1. re: MakingSense

                  I understand the concept but I don't know when people didn't eat from crazed glazes.

                  I'm not a person who is concerned about such things. At 62 I can still remember what dirt tastes like from my childhood. I'm a believer in the 5 second rule -- hell's bells, even the 8 second rule. I eat raw cookie dough. I like my beef bloody. I don't use hand sanitizer -- even on the grocery cart that some other human being touched in the last 10 minutes. I *like* life on the wild side. ;>

                  1. re: rainey

                    Yeah, I tend to be like this too; There's a .. theory? That your immune system has a bacterial and a viral side in balance, and while you get booster shots for viruses, the balance is tipped away from bacterial with antiseptic wipes and sterile environments.

                    However, when you're talking about concentrated deposits of potentially deadly bacteria, I think better safe than sorry. Food hygene is a separate category to me. Especially as it's not just me, but whoever I cook for.

                    1. re: rainey

                      We're of the same mind in general.
                      God made dirt. Dirt don't hurt. What don't kill ya, makes ya stronger.
                      And it does to a great extent, helping you to build up immunities to ordinary things in your day-to-day environment, and even some pretty icky things that you encounter like germs on the handle of the shopping cart at the grocery or the rails in the bus.

                      I used a lot of cracked and chipped pottery until after Katrina when we had to throw away Mama's wedding china which had been under the flood waters for weeks. The crazed pieces had absorbed the dark filthy water and I could see for the first time just how far things could enter the pottery under the glaze.
                      It broke my heart to pitch those old heirlooms, and to stop using some of my own favorites for foods other than dry cookies or things like that.
                      But I decided that there might be something to the warnings about food safety with crazing in pottery.
                      I might use something for a very brief time to serve something, but I sure don't use them for cooking any more.

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        I am soooo sorry. It was heart breaking even to read about having to dispose of family treasures/history. Deepest regards and hope that you're making new pioneer history for those who will follow you.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Yeah, me too. It's such a shame that bad things happen to good people.

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            I am sorry about your china--currently, I've been using my great-aunt's china and I have many fond memories of meals at her home.

                            I, too, am considerably more lax about things like raw cookie dough, 6-second rule, etc., UNLESS I'm cooking/preparing foods for guests. Then I'm vigilant about food safety. And now you've got me wondering about this china, like "is the decorative paint on the sides chock-full of lead"?

                            1. re: nofunlatte

                              Stop worrying. Use your good things and be happy!
                              William Safire, who sadly died this week, coined the term "hysterical hypochondria," which I think sums up a lot of the useless fretting that so many do over things that matter little.

                              The overwhelming majority of the dishes you eat from are safe. The food spends little time on your grandmother's pretty plate and even less time in contact with that painted rim. A piece of cake or a sandwich is fine. A bowl of soup? Maybe not. Don't store food in them. Use doilies, as old-fashioned as they might seem. Don't cook/bake in painted pieces that you pick up in a quaint market in Mexico. Even in the US, some hand-made pottery isn't food safe.
                              When bakeware is crazed, it's time to retire it. Food does seep into the crockery under the glaze and bacteria can prosper. The pieces can be relegated to non-food uses if they're sentimental items.
                              There are lots of scary articles in the media but common sense should reign. Remember Bill Safire and use your good judgment.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                My good judgement, then, says to use Tante Resi's wonderful dishes and remember the fabulous yeasted raisin braid she used to bake. She was once a professional cook, cooking for some minor royalty (part of the Hohenzollern clan) until she emigrated to the US.

                                Oh, and she made the best creamed kohlrabi. Oh, I miss her. I think she'd be absolutely delighted to see me cooking with joy and using her dishes with pleasure. Thanks, MakingSense!

                  2. When did Le Creuset Stoneware switch to being made in Thailand?

                    Both my Le C and EH ceramicware have cracked.
                    Anyone know about Chasseur?