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Enameled Cast Iron - need the final word on seasoning

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Hello all,

My apologies for the long post.

After years of envy, I've slowly accumulated a few pieces of enameled cast iron for my kitchen. I've got a newer 10.25 Le Creuset skillet, a vintage Cousances skillet (23, I think) and a vintage Descoware skillet with a light-grey interior.

I've read every article and thread I can find about seasoning enameled cast iron, and I'm still unclear, so I hope that you can help. The fundamental question is: should I?

The Le Creuset is the Satin, black interior, and I've cooked enough bacon and other greasy things in it that it's got a nice patina starting. However, is that necessary (or even good for the pan) when it's enameled? Should I clean it and forget trying to get a patina in the bottom, or is Staub's advice about oil "penetrating the pores" of the pan the way to go? I keep reading comments that say "there is no need to season enameled cast iron."

The Cousances was obviously well-loved, as it's got an gorgeous smooth seasoned interior that won't hold onto eggs even with a minimum amount of oil.

The Descoware....well, food sticks. The surface is clean and smooth, but I have to use quite a bit of oil to be able to cook without all kinds of residue in the bottom of the pan. It's a beautiful pan but I find myself using it less than the others just because of the sticking. Should I season it, or just cook different foods?

If there's a thread that already discusses this, just send me on my way. Otherwise, thanks in advance for your replies.

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  1. I don't think enamel takes seasoning in the same sense as cast iron or carbon steel.

    1. You can not season enameled cast iron. This should be common sense.

      4 Replies
      1. re: JayL

        JayL: Careful. Common sense has a nasty habit of turning out to be common misconception.

        What is the porosity of the enamels, and how small a porosity does it take to allow the polymeric goo we call seasoning to grab even a tenuous hold? If my car's windshield is any guide, even "smooth" glass can hold tenaciously onto oily road film that it takes strong solvents or medium abrasive cleansers to cut.

        I remember very clearly that LC instructed me in the 1980s to season my new pans' insides in the oven with a coating of oil. When I did that, it "held" after a fashion (and didn't work well at all, BTW), but if you built it up, it balled and smeared. Actually took abrasives to get it OFF. Was LC wrong?

        Also consider what happens to the enamel over time. It's scrubbed, scraped, abraded and etched pretty often. At this point, none of my LC interiors looks glassy-smooth anymore. And now wiped with oil at put-away, it seems to stick less (but still does) than it did when new. Query whether the dark enamels LC uses on its skillets and Staub uses universally is matte just so it better holds some goo for "nonstick" reasons.

        I dunno, but you have to be a little careful with the "can't"s.

        1. re: kaleokahu

          I do not mind saying, yes, LC was wrong. Even you say it didn't work.

          Common sense.

          Even in older, scratched pans, routine (or even occasional) cooking of greasy food should satisfy any seasoning needs of the iron.

          1. re: JayL

            Jay: "Even you say it didn't work." It [LC's recommended seasoning] didn't work WELL. It did work a bit better "seasoned" than the new bare enamel, though.

            I'm sure the OP will never get "a last word" on this subject, but mine is: Wipe a little bit of oil onto the ECI at putaway; it'll stick a little less.

            1. re: JayL

              The Le Creuset documentation for skillets and grill pans with the matte black interior used to specifically recommend rubbing with oil and putting in a low oven to help aid in building up a patina.

              They no longer seem to recommend this, but they still do specify that a patina will form with use that will improve release.

              My own unscientific observations are that both my skillet and grill pan have gotten much easier to use and clean over the years.

        2. Maybe "season" is the wrong word. But when Staub talks about oil penetrating the surface to create a smooth nonstick surface, is that the same idea?

          2 Replies
          1. re: matchswain

            I think you are referring to this Staub FAQ
            http://www.staubusa.com/faq/index.asp#10
            " Over time your Staub pot will naturally create a non stick surface on the bottom that you get from seasoning a piece of rough cast iron. "
            Could that be a characteristic of their matte finish? I have some glazed ceramics that natural low-stick, but that's a glossy surface. I haven't seen evidence of a developing seasoning layer on enameled pans.

            1. re: matchswain

              Well, typically the you cannot season a gloss enameled finish. Afterall, the standard LC cookware claim to be relatively nonstick and you cannot have seasoning stick to a nonstick surface. Not strong enough to endure everyday cooking. Staub matte suface is different. It is a much rougher surface, so they claim you can have limited seasoning on these cookware, but it is still nowhere like seasoning on carbon steel and cast iron. The important point is that you do not need to intentionally seasoning these matte rough finished enameled cast iron cookware.

            2. Do not treat enamel over cast iron like seasoned
              cast iron. It is a different way of cooking Rouxbe online cooking
              school has technique classes and one is waiting until the pan
              surface is at the correct mercury ball water drop phase
              And them wait until the oil is at the finger phase
              when u tilt the pan before you add the room temp item
              Which if it is a meat has been dried inside and out
              It is not about seasoning the pan which on enamel means cooking
              On crud just cook on a clean pan and u can even scramble
              eggs on enamel without silicone spray (scary!!!!)

              1. NO, you do NOT "season" enameled pots! If your enameled pot has developed a "patina" it's filthy and you need to clean it. Enamel is not exactly "non-stick" which is a good thing because you want frond when you're browning meats and so forth.