Cast iron cookware has recently gained a new wave in popularity. Even though it’s a metal pot that’s been used for cooking for hundreds of years, its timeless efficiency has brought about a newfound enjoyment for home cooks.
But along with this surge in popularity have come a few questions: Is buying that vintage rusty looking enameled cast iron cookware worth that price? Some have been seen online upwards of $2,000! Are they really nonstick? And why do some come in plain black and others in a range of colors? Ah, you have found enameled cast iron cookware.
Vitreous enamel consists of glass fragments that are merged to the underlying metal layer with extreme heat. This creates an impervious finish that protects the underlying layer. So essentially, enameled cast iron cookware is your basic black range all prettied up.
The Pros of Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
- First off has to be the obvious one: the range of colors. Yes, simple black will fit into anyone’s kitchen, but can look so bland, so having to choose between a rainbow of colors is exciting, especially if you really want a particular color to match your kitchen designs
- “Naked” cast iron requires quite a bit of maintenance, which is not required with the enameled version. The thought of having to season and re-season cookware over periods of time, have pushed plenty people towards the enameled cast iron cookware ranges.
- Just like plain cast iron, it reaches really high temperatures and retains them for even cooking
- The enamel coating prevents any iron from the pot or pan from leaching into your food, which can result in a metallic taste or even potential health risks from increased iron levels in your blood
- Long-lasting and just like their “naked” sisters, often become family heirlooms.
- Will not rust
- Can be used on an induction cooktop.
The Cons of Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
- Iron is heavy; there is just no way around this point. If you’re a sufferer of arthritis or weak joints, then cast iron in any form may not be recommended for you. If they’re too heavy to pick up when they are empty, imagine when you’re cooking a pot full of food!
- The enamel can chip. As long as you use to correct utensils with your enameled cast iron, it shouldn’t be an issue, but some have been known to chip. Try not to use metal utensils.
- It is rather a bit more expensive than regular cast iron. I mean, it is a “dolled-up” version after all.
Chipped Enamel: All is NOT Lost!
Most enamel cast iron companies offer a warranty service, so before you consider a home repair and potentially void said warranty, try and see if you can get the chipped pot replaced. Be warned, however, that the chip may not be repairable and you may be advised to replace your beloved pot. Chipped enameled pots really should not be used, not because of the exposed iron, but because the enamel may chip further and get into your food.
If you want to perform emergency surgery, bear in mind that it is only a temporary fix. First, get some food-safe adhesive. Using the adhesive, slowly and carefully fill in the chipped area. Allow the adhesive to slightly harden and then press wax paper over it. While applying pressure to the wax paper, flatten the adhesive against the cookware. Remove the wax paper and allow the adhesive to dry completely.
Once it has dried, use a very fine sandpaper to gently sand the edges of the repaired spot, making it perfectly flush to the rest of the enamel. Be very careful to not scratch any nearby enamel. You can now paint some food-safe enamel over the adhesive and allow it to dry. Wash thoroughly to make sure all remnants of your repair job have been removed.
If you are planning on investing in enameled cast iron, look for companies that provide decent warranties and after-sales service. Some companies also pride themselves on using a process that prevents chipping and cracking, even after continued use. So once you have taken a look through our enameled cast iron cookware pros and cons, you will have a better knowledge of what owning and using the type of cookware entails, how it is best used, and what you can and can’t do with it. The choice is up to you whether you would like to purchase it for your home.