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Thinking about getting a cast iron dutch oven and have some questions

I have finally gotten past my fear of the seasoning issue and have started to master (and love!) my cast iron skillet. Now I'm contemplating buying a dutch oven from Lodge Logic. I was thinking of using it for soups, chili, pasta sauce, etc. Would cast iron be good for things like that or would I be better off sticking with my Calphalon? If you own a cast iron dutch oven, what do you do with it and how much do you clean it in between different types of foods? Thank you!

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  1. I'd recommend getting an enameled cast iron dutch oven to avoid the cast iron reacting to any acids you'll put in it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sueshungry

      I've read that it's a *good thing* for some iron to leach into acid-based foods cooked in 'em, such as tomatoes. I've had my CI dutch oven since the early '70s and love it to death.

    2. I use my CI DO for everything you listed. Yes, it will leach some iron and mess up the seasoning a bit but those don't bother me. My son needs the extra iron and I have fun reseasoning.

      If you don't want the extra iron/ work I'd suggest an enameled CI DO or just sticking to what you already have.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MamaCrunch

        The iron is one of the reasons I've been thinking about it. I've been struggling with low iron/anemia and my little one doesn't get nearly enough in her diet either.

      2. I use mine for everything from braising to frying to baking breads to ... well, everything. I occasionally use it for tomato sauces but I prefer the enamelled pots for that just because of the cleaning ease. I try to wipe it out as soon as I'm done cooking and re-oil it but its so well seasoned at this point that even if I don't it doesn't seem to hurt a bit.

        It was one of the best multi use pieces I ever purchased for my kitchen. So glad I did.

        2 Replies
        1. re: weezieduzzit

          Ooooh, nothing better than baking sourdough bread in my CI dutch oven. It's so well seasoned that the bread just pops out, and nothing can beat the crunchy crust. That and a bunch of Kerrygold butter, and I call it a meal.

          1. re: pine time

            I'm going to have to try this! I'm a bad sourdough mom and let mine die about a month ago. Now I have a reason to start up again!

        2. I got a CI DO for my birthday about 5 years ago, and it's my most frequently used piece of cookwareby far. It's so versatile, and for some dishes actually makes it hard to screw up. It has high volumne, and with the mass amounts of cast iron, really holds the heat well. Anything with a slow simmer involved is a perfect use for this. Lately, I've been making slow poached eggs in it, because I want a high volume of water and want to hold a constant 62 degree C temp. I can turn the stove top off and the water temp won't even budge for 5 minutes because the pot holds the heat so well. buy one and it will become your favorite pan too. I don't know how I lived without one.

          1. Makes a great pot roast and veggies in the oven.

            1. If you already have a Calphalon for soups, chili, and pasta, I'd just stick with that.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jaykayen

                I agree with jaykayen. I have both enameled and raw cast iron pans and a large, no-longer-nonstick saucier. The saucier gets used for chili, soup, and pasta. The raw cast iron has decades' worth of onion, bay, clove, and garlic seasoning which adds an ineffable something to braises, and I don't want to alter it so I reserve it for the same few dishes. If I am doing a braise or stew using wine, tomato, or other acids, I use the enameled cast iron.

                Unless you want to do slow braising and roasting, your Calphalon will suit you well for the soup, chili, and pasta.

              2. It is entirely up to you. I have a bare cast iron Dutch Oven and I like it a lot. It is known that bare cast iron cookware (Dutch Oven or not) will leech iron into foods, especially acidic foods like chili and tomato pasta sauce. Some people find the iron/metallic taste repulsive. Many don't, including me. Unfortunately, I cannot answer how you will feel about the taste. My advise for you is to make small amount of pasta sauce or chili in your current cast iron skillet just to see if that metallic taste affects you.

                The real advantage of a cast iron Dutch Oven is that you can sear your meat or fry your onion...etc in the cast iron first before adding water. This gives you a much richer taste and just boil everything, and it allows you to do everything in one cookware instead of two.

                1. I have a plain cast iron dutch oven (Lodge Logic 5 quart with loop handles) and love it for chili, soups and stews. I would be a little worried about doing a tomato-based spaghetti sauce or something with a lot of wine in it. (Enameled cast iron is the right tool for the job with those). Maintaining the seasoning in a dutch oven is WAY different than a skillet since the cooking is often "wet"...to build the seasoning up, I bake no-knead bread and pop popcorn between "wet" uses. The dutch oven also works well for frying chicken and for casserole-type dishes (scalloped potatoes, apple crisp, baked eggs). Clean-up is similar to a skillet (hot water, sparing amounts of detergent, plastic scrapers and abrasive pads). There are also parchment liners for dutch ovens and slow cookers that make clean up a snap -- last time I picked some up they were in the sporting goods section in Wal Mart (go figure). Just like any cast iron, it will reward use...an unused dutch oven will just pick up a rancid funk over time.