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Enameled AND Non-Enameled CI Dutch Oven

Is there any reason to own both?

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  1. Well the traditional camp ovens are awesome for cooking outside, in the fireplace or wood stove. You won't catch me putting coals on the lid of my Le Creuset!

    1. Though I read that some people do it, I wouldn't want to use bare cast iron for sauces or braises containing acids (tomatoes, wine, citrus, vinegar. If I had to pick just one, it would be Le Creuset.

      1. There are reasons to own both and there are reasons not to own both. I have both type, but I ended up only using only one type for 99% of the time. I can go on and go for all the reasons and there are many other existing posts on this topic already. I will just name the main advantages of each. Bare CI Dutch Ovens are very robust and can handle harsher abuses. Enameled CI Dutch Ovens are non-reactive.

        1. I think I may just have to save up for a nice Staub!

          16 Replies
          1. re: euclid

            Esp. for starters, I'd encourage you to try one of the enameled cast iron Dutch ovens sold at Sam's Club, Walmart, or Costco (I hear that the latter has even been selling one made in France). Much less "saving up" is necessary that way.

            1. re: Bada Bing

              I agree. I picked up a 7 quart oval DBK Danial Boulud Kitchens enameled cast iron from Home Goods for about $45. KaChing! Works great for the last 5 years. You could also look at Lodge for enameled cast iron. You can braise like a pro!

              Cast iron is good for a skillet for high heat searing but a cast iron Dutch oven too reactive for a stew. In spite of all the Cowboy movies we have seen guys sitting around the campfire cooking beans in one.

              1. re: cajundave

                I pleased to say that for the last 6 mos. I have been the owner of both bare cast iron dutch oven and enameled. I have had a bare CI dutch oven for over 30 years. My LC is a new blessing for me. I like having both and I use both. I think at the end of the day, it would depend on your style of cooking.

                Like some others, I am not crazy about putting tomatoes in my bare cast iron, unless whatever I am cooking is going to cook and get done rather fast. The acid does take a toll on the seasoning layers and if left long enough can remove it. Also, acidic foods left too long in bare cast iron can cause a metal taste. Beef stew in cast iron that is made without tomatoes or maybe the tomatoes are added at the end of the cooking taste absolutely wonderful and cooks everything so well.

                Beans cooked in a bare cast iron pot are the best. But, dried beans have a way of leaving a coating on the pot that is hard to get off. I have found the best way to get it off is with vinegar left standing in the pot for several hours. Of course that is not a good idea with bare cast iron. So my beans are now cooked in my LC pot and they are wonderful. However, grean beans and leafy greens (turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens) are usually still prepared in my bare cast iron.
                Except last Sat when I had all my family over for a 4th of July meal. I fixed my ham and beans in my 7.5qt LC and my turnip greens in my 4qt LC. Just because I wanted it to look good since I was serving out of my cook pot. By the way, turnip greens look great in a Kiwi colored LC. :o)

                If I were really uncertain as to whether or not I would like an enameld dutch oven, I would just get one of the less expensive ones. Walmart carries the Lodge enameld CI dutch oven and they seem nice. Macy's carry's Martha Stewarts line, which is real reasonable when they are on sale. I would think that they would cook just as well as the LC.

                I chose the LC (after much thought on that price. YIKES!) because of the beautiful colors and the fact that they seem lighter in weight. Any way to lighten up CI iron is good for me.
                Anyway, I am so very much enjoying my two enameld CI pots and am finding lots of uses for them. Probably more so than my bare cast iron. But I would not want to do without my bare CI dutch oven. For I love it too. So I say go for both! I prefer searing meats in my bare cast iron.

            2. re: euclid

              Like Bada Bing said, there are plenty people who bought Staub and Le Cresuet and then found out that they hate them. It is one thing to save up $200-300 for something which you know you need and you will love. It is entirely a different thing to save up $200-300 for something which you don't know a whole lot and may eventually come to hate.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                OTOH, there are people who've used Le Creuset happily for decades.

                1. re: Jay F

                  "OTOH, there are people who've used Le Creuset happily for decades"

                  Sure, but there are certainly people who do not like enameled cast iron cookware. In fact, if we go by the some of the responses from the old threads, I say about half or more. So it is rather expensive to find out.

                  I like carbon steel knives and I especially like Japanese carbon steel knives. That being said, I also know many people prefer stainless steel over carbon steel, and prefer German knives over Japanese knives. I won't think it is a good idea to spend $300 on a Japanese carbon steel knife if the person has never used one, or for that matter, a $300 German stainless steel knife.

                  Saltydog did not own a Japanese Honyaki Mizuno gyuto before writing the following review article:


                  However, he has used plenty other Japanese carbon steel knives before, excellent at knife sharpening and have amazing knife skills.


                  Salty knows what he is getting into and it is understandable for him to spend $1000 for this knife. However, it is very different for a person who has never held a Japanese carbon steel knife to spend this kind of money even if many other people love Japanese carbon steel knives.

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I should clarify that I've bought Le Creuset and love it. I also bought a cheaper enameled cast iron pot, and it has never disappointed. In general, I have more use for the non-reactivity of enameled pots than I do for the toughness of bare cast iron.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I have never heard of anyone hating a Staub or a LC. It is something that I will use a lot so I would rather not spend $50 on a lackluster one only to want to drop a couple hundred dollars a few years later. Especially when a good quality one should last me decades.

                    1. re: euclid

                      "I have never heard of anyone hating a Staub or a LC"

                      Then welcome here and read more of the old threads. There are people who prefer bare cast iron cookware and those who prefer enameled cast iron cookware. On that alone, you have plenty of people who do not prefer the enameled Staub or LC. On top of that, there are many people who simply do not like cast iron cookware, enameled or not. Ultimately, it depends how much $300 worth to you. $300 could be one-tenth of somone's monthly salary, but it could be one-hundredth of another person's monthly salary. As for the concept that a good quality enameled cookware would last for decades, I think you will find many people here who agree with that statement, but also plenty here disagree.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I thought this thread was Dutch ovens? Most of us that use enameled Dutch ovens also use bare cast iron skillets ect. No either or required.

                      2. re: euclid

                        We went for years without either an enameled cast iron "French Oven" or a bare cast iron Dutch Oven. Then one day my wife decided she needed a goo large pot for a particular dish she was planning to cook for a party. We bought our first Staub cocotte and were both impressed with it. I always do a lot of research prior to spending just about any sum of money and if you go with an enameled oven you would do well to stick to Staub or LC, in short, they are just better. Both are far more chip resistant than the inexpensive stuff you get from China. We were so impressed with the 5 qt Staub that we bought a 2.25 qt., 8.85 qt. cocottes and a 2.5 qt. braiser, all Staub. We also bought our adult children coq au vins from Staub for last Christmas. I use the braiser more than the others, but they all work so well for certian dishes that I can't figure out how we went so long without them.

                        Buy quality and buy once.

                      3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I want to know who all these plenty of people are,because I know none of them.

                        1. re: rasputina

                          "I want to know who all these plenty of people are,because I know none of them."

                          It is not my intention to discourage people from using enameled cast iron cookware or promote bare cast iron cookware, not on this thread anyway. As such, I have been quite careful (intentionally so) not to include the links to older threads. I think the notion that "not everyone bought a Le Cresuet or a Staub is happy" should be rather reasonable and sound. You tone suggests some sorts of an inquisition -- for you have said you want to know *ALL* of these plenty people.

                          You have started writing on CHOWHOUND quiet recently, so it is not a surprise that you may not have seen these past discussions. You can look for them. JayF, for example, is aware of these conversations, as you can tell from his response to mine.

                          The point I am making is not about which cookware is more superior, but rather some people prefer one over another, and frankly some people dislike both. As such, I am merely agreeing Bada Bing's view that it is not a bad idea to try a less expensive enameled cast iron Dutch oven especially for a beginner. It will be rather regrettable to spend hundreds and even over a thousand dollars later to only find out you have no use of them.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Just out of curiosity, which do you prefer and why?

                          2. re: rasputina

                            Hi, rasputina:

                            [Timidly raises hand]


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Put your hands down before someone slaps you around. I tried so hard to protect you and few other people.

                      4. I own both. I use the cast-iron one for pH neutral stews and such, since it's heat characeristics are better, and it's stronger.
                        I use the enameled one for tomato sauces and other acidic cooking, but it's harder to clean, and ill treatment by a poorly-intentioned dishwasher can (and has) chipped it :-(

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: PeteSeattle

                          "I own both. I use the cast-iron one for pH neutral stews and such, since it's heat characeristics are better, and it's stronger.
                          I use the enameled one for tomato sauces and other acidic cooking, but it's harder to clean, and ill treatment by a poorly-intentioned dishwasher can (and has) chipped it :-("

                          That would be my only compalint so far with my expensive enameld CI. The worry about it getting chipped and scratched. So far I am the only one using them. I only use wood or nylon utensils on my enameled CI. I always have used metal utensles on my bare CI and stainless cookware. So I had to go out and buy nylon or sylicone utensils. And tell everybody that is what is to be used with these two pots. So that is a bit of a change. The wood utensils, I use often to stir with in all my pots.
                          So the drawback for me and my enameld CI is just altering the care of my pots. But you usually have to do that any time you change the style of your cookware. I can remember year ago when non stick cookware came out and how that changed the way we cooked.
                          As I grew up and got a place of my own, I went back to my old way of cooking and got rid of the non stick stuff. I just don't think food taste as good prepared in them.
                          If fact, if it wasn't for my husband popping popcorn in the microwave every night, I would get rid of the microwave too. I hate food cooked in it and even warming food up in a microwave, doesn't suit me. Though convenient, it changes the taste and texture of everything.

                          I use to scramble my eggs in the microwave and though they are ok, they don't even compare to scrambled eggs in my bare cast iron skillet. Even eggs in a non stick pan doesn't taste near as good as the ones in that bare cast iron skillet. I had forgotten just how much better food tasted in the cast iron until I got rid of all my non stick cookware. But I grew up on food prepared in CI, so that is probably why I like it so much better.

                          So my expensive LC is only to be used by me. Including washing it. Just like my expensive knives.:o)

                          1. re: dixiegal

                            I hear you! I have several pans that my neighbors want to use, and I've had to absolutely forbid them from touching them, because they've proven over and over that in the interest of being supposedly (clean) but actually Passive-Aggressive and dishonest that they'll wreck them. I thought my enamel dutch oven was strong enough. WRONG. I thought my tin-lined copper shallow baking dish was strong enough. WRONG. I thought my gigantic C-clamp that was bigger than a railroad spike couldn't be hurt by them. It came back twisted like a cruller. So I wouldn't let anyone touch my All-Clad Teflon crepe pan. PERIOD. And when they complain, and they do, I pull out some of the others I keep and show them, that no matter what they promise, they've proven that they can't be trusted to care for my pans. Sorry.
                            (Do I sound bitter? Sorry, I suppose I am!)

                            1. re: PeteSeattle

                              I will take you at your word, and I regret the damages you've seen. But it makes me laugh to imagine a neighborhood where people are beating down your door to borrow your All-Clad teflon crepe pan. It's sounds like something from a foodie sitcom!

                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                You know, I hadn't realized just how bad the situation was until I actually outlined them here. It was a pretty abusive situation, and I've now pretty much gotten them out of that behavior.
                                As for the door, strangely, the story you tell actually DID Happen! (Door has not been completely repaired yet)
                                Thanks for showing me the humor of the situation! I feel a little better now!

                        2. I use both. For baking no knead bread and frying I always use the cast iron. For acidic stuff I use the enameled cast iron. Honestly I think if you can swing a Le Creuset or Staub enameled cast iron Dutch oven then a much cheaper Lodge cast iron Dutch oven shouldn't break the bank. As mentioned earlier, cast iron can take a beating and comfortably go anywhere whereas you could do the same with enameled cast iron but you may end up in tears after damaging it.

                          1. I just got off the phone with someone at a Le Creuset outlet store, who told me you can get a 5.5 qt. round French oven today in Kiwi for $119. *If you are in their computer*, other colors are $124.

                            The Costco equivalent, which only comes in a 6.5 qt. size, is $80.

                            The Lodge 5.5 qt. is $50.

                            Given the number of stories about the chipping one gets from the Chinese brands, I can't see why anyone wouldn't choose a Le Creuset from one of the outlets. My first set lasted 20 years, after which it was replaced under its lifetime warranty by Le Creuset, because I (gradually) wore it out. I have been reading old issues of Bon Appetit (1978-1980), and it appears I paid under $100 for my first set. All that cooking (three decades and counting) for less than $100. Seems like a good deal to me.


                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Jay F

                              Ah! But cast iron can last 300 years! (There are none that old, the process isn't that old yet)
                              The nice advantage to cast iron is in a dish that must have some elements fried, before deglazing with a pH neutral liquid. If the cast iron has a nice finish on it, then the frying portion works beautifully.
                              Cast iron rusts, and if it rusts, unless it's severely pitted on the inner surface, there's no worry: the first brush with edible oil on a rag or paper towel removes the rust completely! So you can often find cast iron in flea markets and such that people didn't want to deal with anymore that's simply ugly, but just a second or two of care will bring it to lustre.
                              I remember a Hint from Heloise from the sixties where she mentioned that a mixture of bleach and ammonia will turn a blackened and apparently ruined cast iron pan covered with rust back to its original gray color. I suppose it works, but that mixture is so poisonous she said to only do it outside, and to pour the chemicals into a plastic bag and seal the bag and leave it in the sun for some days. (This mixture is HIGHLY poisonous, and will dissolve ALL organic compounds, including those that are in your lungs!)

                              1. re: PeteSeattle

                                I have seen cast iron broken before. When used to provide a taste treat to a particularly tame cow, when she stepped in it the cast iron pan broke in half.

                                I have a saute pan made of spun wrought iron (different stuff) and from the spinning process to make a nice surface inside, it left ridges similar to the marks on a clay pot thrown on a wheel. Trouble was there was a nipple of iron left in the center, and it snagged food, until I lost patience with the pan and went over the inside with several different sizes of sandpaper and wore it down flat. I'm happy with that pan now.

                                1. re: PeteSeattle

                                  Ah! But cast iron can last 300 years! (There are none that old, the process isn't that old yet)

                                  Though bare cast iron can last a long time and hold up for a lot of rugged use, I think the only ones that would last "100s of years" are the ones that are not used constantly.

                                  I watched my grandmother in-law the moment she wore a hole in the bottom of her cast iron skillet as she was frying chicken. Of course, this skillet had been used all her life and was used everyday and usually twice a day. No telling the eggs, bacon, chicken, etc. that had been fried in that skillet. She raised and fed a husband and 13 children with that skillet. And continued on prepareing food for her grandchildren and their spouses (like me) until she wasn't able any more.

                                  So yea, cast iron can eventually be worn out if used enough. and it can be done in just one generation. What I wouldn't give now to have rescued that skillet out of her trash can, to hang in my kitchen. What a conversation piece that would be!

                                  1. re: dixiegal

                                    That's a beautiful story. I loved it.
                                    Interestingly, I had a co-worker who was a Maine farmer and when I mentioned that if you have an old cast-iron skillet with a beautiful finish in a kitchen, that's s pretty good sign that someone in the family might eventually develop heart problems. (From eating all the fried foods, I thought.)
                                    He replied surprisingly, that he didn't go in for all that superstitious magical lore! (He was as big as a house, old and sloppy, and I guess the magical hocus-pocus he was talking about was that watching your diet and limiting your alcolhol intake helped you live longer)

                              2. Cast iron has been used since the 4th century in China. There are many fine examples in museums today. Western cultures did not start using it until the 14th century - and mostly in weaponry. But there are English cast iron pots dating back to the early 1700's.

                                Cast iron used in cooking products such as tomato sauce has long been a way to incorporate additional iron in one's diet. So we don't bother with the enameled pots, except as an aesthetic consideration.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: tsquare

                                  Oh yeah! I forgot about kettles! I was thinking about the standard cast-iron pot, as opposed to something made of wrought iron.
                                  You see, my brother's a blacksmith. And I know that the Chinese were able to make bronze cast metal objects, and it's "possible" that they could have made cast iron objects, the fact is that the European and Americans simply could not build a hot enough fire to melt iron to a liquid enough state to pour it into a mold, and the iron object thus made is fragile even if you do succeed. But build a fire hot enough to soften it, and work it in its softened state, while introducing some amount of carbon and it's beautiful. It wasn't until Bessemer (in America) and the guy in Britain who invented the same process were they able to smelt iron out of ore in a consistent enough manner to make it cheap to produce good solid objects. (Remember, I lost a frying pan because a cow stepped in it and broke it in half!)
                                  That said, kettles earlier than 1700 were brass, bronze, or copper. And that's 300 years ago. So we have no cast-iron frying pans from earlier than 300 years, although in a couple of hundred years, we're probably going to have plenty of them around!
                                  Copper is still considered preferable to either cast-iron or enamel, but it's harder to take care of.

                                  It's a mistake, although an understandable one, to assume that by consuming iron dissolved in an acid, or elemental iron, or iron oxide, will supply the needed nutrients in one's diet.
                                  That won't work, however. There are plants that can do it, and we can extract the iron we need from the plants. So if you need iron in your diet, eat lots of spinach and liver!
                                  That always works.

                                  1. re: PeteSeattle

                                    I have to disagree with you regarding the absorbability of iron from cookware. I can find numerable references from reliable sources that note cooking in cast iron can increase iron in the diet.
                                    "A study published in the July 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that cooking in cast iron skillets added significant amounts of iron to 20 foods tested. For example, the researchers reported that the iron content of three ounces of applesauce increased from 0.35 mg to 7.3 mg and scrambled eggs increased from 1.49 mg to 4.76 mg of iron."
                                    If you can provide updated scientific studies that contradict this finding, please provide your sources.

                                    1. re: tsquare

                                      Look closely at what you've written. It is indeed true that these methods will increase iron in the diet. What they don't say is that they provide the iron in a form that the body can absorb.
                                      The same is especially true of calcium. Eating limestone won't cure osteoporosis, especially if you're lactose intolerant. Lactose assists the absorption of calcium from milk, as well as breaking down the sugar. So the Tums ads where they say that Tums has calcium (true) don't say that that calcium's available for use in your body.

                                      Your best bet for both mineral troubles is to rely on green plants.

                                      1. re: PeteSeattle

                                        We are talking about biovailability of iron, right? I think you bring up a good question: total iron vs iron avaliable for absorption. However, I am not sure if iron from cookware cannot be absorbed. There was/were the famous old study with iron nail in an apple for rats, right?

                                        Here I have an article from Food Chemistry and it suggests that the iron bioavaliability percentage is very similar for iron from the cookware vs iron from the vegetables. Since the total armount of iron is greater for the vegetables cooked in an iron utensils, then the total iron absorption is also higher. Let me quote:

                                        "The availability of iron, in relation to total iron, of greens cooked in iron utensils was either comparable or marginally higher than those cooked in other metallic utensils. Since the total iron content of greens cooked in iron utensils was high, the actual amount of available iron also increased. It can be concluded that cooking in iron utensils increases the total as well as the available iron content of greens."


                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Good reply. Thanks. It's through discussions where people don't always say exactly the same things that we get to learn from each other!
                                          In reading your reply, I was thinking of iron availability in my native area, the US Southeast.
                                          The iron you mention is available in huge quantities all over the American South from inhaled hematite and ocher-like substances, from the red clay soil which is everywhere.
                                          Yet in spring we make poke salad, which is a green plant that's barely edible, for the good it does in providing what the winter leached out of us. True, that might be calcium, phosphorous, or something else or a lot of things! I suspect Rhubarb is eaten here for the same reason.
                                          However the response you gave also made me think: No one here is short of iron, specifically. If iron is being lost, there's another problem that needs to be addressed, some kind of internal bleeding. Iron-poor blood from the Geritol set isn't advertized anymore, most likely anemias are looked at as to why they occur, not how to keep putting iron back into a system that's losing it.

                                          1. re: PeteSeattle

                                            Could you bother to look at facts before you post whatever comes to your fingertips. The US continues to have plenty of cases of anemia that are managed as a chronic condition or that cause ER visits and even death. There are many vulnerable populations, particularly toddlers and women of child bearing age. Iron supplementation continues to be recommended for certain individuals.

                                            1. re: tsquare

                                              True. But the fact is that it's a serious enough condition that you're right, you need to be under the care of a doctor to treat it, not just decide that it would be good for you to do and go off and start doing it!
                                              It's a little like eating clay. It's good for you, and in the right form (Pepto-Bismol is clay) a little goes a long way towards helping specific problems. But someone who goes off the deep end winds up with a belly full of dirt!

                                              1. re: PeteSeattle

                                                If you have a hematocrit that typically runs a bit low, adding iron rich foods or taking a daily supplement or taking other steps to increase your iron intake is pretty simple and common. It may not be terribly serious, but worth paying attention to.

                                                Are you confusing Pepto-Bismol with Kaopectate? Kaolinite, a clay, was used in the original formula of Kaopectate, but both it and tablet form of P-B now use bismuth subsalicylate, not clay or dirt. Now how did we get so far off topic as to be discussing anti-diarrhea medicines?

                                                1. re: tsquare

                                                  Who knows. I think it starts off with "does usage of cast iron cookware increases iron intake to our bodies?"

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    This is getting pretty far afield from food into medicine, so we would ask that people let this sub-thread go. Thanks!