Are you looking to buy enameled cast iron cookware for your kitchen? If yes, you should know what are the pros and cons of enameled cast iron cookware.
Gone are the days, when people were only interested in stainless steel cookware or nonstick cookware. These days, the demand for cast iron cookware, dutch oven and hard anodized cookware is on the rise.
If you are worried about the rusting of cast iron cookware, you should absolutely check out enameled cast iron cookware.
In this post, we will discuss what are the advantages and disadvantages of enameled cast iron cookware, so you can make the best choice for your kitchen.
Later in this post, we will also review the difference between cast iron vs enameled cast iron.
You can also check out other posts on Best Casserole in India and Simple Tips on How to Use Cast Iron on Glass Top Gas Stoves.
What is Enameled Cast Iron?
If you have ever had a cast iron cookware, then it will be easier for you to understand what is an enameled cast iron cookware. But, first let’s understand, what does the word enamel even means.
Enameling is the process of applying a thin coating of enamel onto a metal. In the case of cast iron cookware, the cast iron cookware goes through a fusion of glaze, which makes the resulting cookware literally rust free.
One of the major disadvantages associated with a cast iron cookware is that it is prone to rust, which is why, enameled cast iron was invented in the first place. In addition to this, while enameled cast iron cookware is very colourful and classy, it can also handle high heat.
If you are a fan of slow cooking and drawing flavour from foods, you should invest in enameled cast iron cookware, but you should know it is expensive too, as compared to the cast iron.
Pros of Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
1. Food Safe
While a cast iron cookware is an absolute utility to have in the kitchen, there is a major disadvantage to it too. With most of the cast iron pans, you cannot cook acidic foods in it, since the metal can rust with the acidic foods. On the contrary, you can cook almost everything and anything in an enameled cast iron cookware. This means, enameled cast iron cookware is totally food safe.
2. Rust Free
Cast iron cookware is prone to rust, which is why, acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, should not be cooked in the cast iron pan. This is a huge disadvantage with a cast iron pan. If you have an enameled cast iron cookware, you do not have to worry about rusting, since the enamel forms a protective layer, and prevents any kind of rusting to appear on the enameled cookware.
Unlike the cast iron cookware, which regularly needs to be seasoned from time to time, you do not have to invest your time in seasoning an enameled cast iron pan, since it is already pre-seasoned out of the box. In other words, an enameled cast iron cookware will provide you a very similar cooking experience to that of a nonstick cookware, and you can cook with little or no oil.
4. Better Cooking Experience
If cooking experience does matter to you, then you should go for an enameled cast iron cookware. Since you do not have to season theenameled cast iron cookware, it has a natural nonstick surface, which allows you to cook the food without any oil. The natural nonstick surface also helps in an easier cleaning experience, in addition to a better cooking experience. Moreover, if you like to cook dishes that require slow cooking, you will enjoy enameled cast iron pots and pans.
5. Visually Appealing
To be honest, a cast iron pan is good, but it is not very attractive with a very solid and rusty design, which can somehow leave a dull look in the kitchen. Compare the looks of a cast iron pan to an enameled cast iron pan, and you will be smitten by the looks of the enameled cast iron pan. The good thing is enameled cast iron cookware is available in a lot of attractive colours and designs, that you will almost want to buy multiple units.
6. Needs Less Care
If you are not a fan of regular upkeep and maintenance of your cookware, you must look out for an enameled cast iron cookware. Unlike a cast iron pan, which needs to be looked after in terms of cleaning and what you are cooking in it, this is not the case with anenameled cast iron cookware as it requires minimal maintenance, just make sure you do not drop this cookware, that’s it.
7. Compatible with Cooktops
If you do like to cook on different types of cooktops, such as oven, grill, gas stoves or even an induction cooktop, you are going to love enameled cast iron cookware. The compatibility ofenameled cast iron cookware is one of its biggest advantages over its counterpart, cast iron cookware. Having said this, it is always recommended to check the product label of the cookware product, before using it with any other cooktop type.
8. Easy to Clean
With all the braising, roasting, or stewing food, you are going to need a cookware, which is easier to clean. Since an enameled cast iron cookware has a natural nonstick surface, the food does not stick to its surface. This allows for a comparatively easier cleaning experience, as compared to the cast iron cookware itself. An easy to clean cookware is certainly a better choice. As an icing on the cake, most of the enameled cast iron cookware pans are dishwasher compatible too.
9. Retains Heat Well
While an enameled cast iron cookware is not as good as cast iron, when it comes to handling higher temperatures, but it is also true that it retains heat better than any other cooking pot. This means, your dishes will still stay hot even after you have switched off the gas stove.
Cons of Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
1. Average Durability
When it comes to the durability of cast iron cookware, there is absolutely no doubt on its strength. A cast iron pan does not have any coating, which makes it a uni-design piece, and therefore, it is safe and durable for generations. Enameled cast iron cookware, on the other hand, is not as durable as cast iron, since there is always a risk of enamel coating coming off from the cookware. In other words, the enamel coating is weaker than the bare cast iron itself. This is why, you have to be sure to not drop off the enameled cast iron pan, since the coating can take a hit from the drop, and the cookware will no longer be useful.
2. It is Heavy
Cast iron is a heavyweight cookware piece, and similar is the case with enameled cast iron too. Enameled cast iron is the same piece of cast iron, but with an extra coating of enamel. This may be comfortable, if you have the experience of handling heavy cookware. However, this can also be a nightmare for aged folks in the kitchen, who cannot perform heavy lifting.
3. Takes Time to Get Hot
Cast iron is not known to be an excellent heat conductor, and you will always have to wait a bit for the cookware to get hot. This is the same with enameled cast iron, as it has a lower thermal conductivity, which means, an enameled cast iron pan will not let heat pass through itself easily. Having said this, once it gets hot, it remains hot for longer durations.
4. No Metal Utensils
Unlike a stainless steel cookware or a hard anodized cookware, you cannot use metal utensils such as a spatula, ladle, etc. on the enameled cast iron pan. Using metal utensils on enameled cast iron cookware will damage the enamel coating, making the cookware useful. You should always use silicone spatula on nonstick, cast iron and enamelled cast iron cookware.
While a cast iron pan is not very expensive in India, but you will have to shell out some money if you are looking to buy an enameled cast iron cookware. For an example, brands like Lodge and Le Creuset are extremely expensive, as you might have to spend from 5,000 to 20,000 rupees to buy one of their enameled cast iron pans or dutch ovens.
Safety Tips for Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
1). If you have a glass top gas stove, always make sure to lift the enameled cast iron cookware rather than dragging it on the cooktop. Dragging can lead to scratches on the glass top stove, since the enameled cast iron cookware is very heavy.
2). Even though some brands say their enameled cast iron cookware is dishwasher compatible, however, you should still handwash them. Enameled cast iron cookware have an enamel coating, which may get damaged during the strong dishwashing cycles.
3). While cleaning theenameled cast iron cookware, never use a metal spatula or ladle to remove any food residue, as these hard utensils can affect the enamel coating. As an alternative, you can use a wooden or a silicone spatula.
4). Avoid stacking enameled cast iron cookware with other pieces of cookware such as stainless steel, nonstick, cast iron, ceramic, etc. Stacking can lead to scratches easily, and may alter the looks of your enameled cast iron cookware.
5). Never preheat the enameled cast iron cookware on the gas stove, instead, always ensure to add some oil, before you start cooking, this will avoid direct heat with the enamel coating.
6). Avoid putting your enameled cast iron cookware through sudden and drastic temperature changes, as that can cause the enamel coating to chip off.
7). If you are going to store enameled cast iron cookware with other cookware materials, make sure to place a soft cloth, bubble wrap or preferably a tissue paper between the pots to avoid scratches.
Cast Iron vs Enameled Cast Iron
Now that we know the pros and cons of enameled cast iron cookware, let’s understand the difference between Cast iron vs enameled cast iron cookware, so you can choose which one do you want to buy for your every day cooking requirements.
To read more on this, you can also check our post on Enameled cast iron dutch ovens.
1). Visual Looks & Appeal – A cast iron cookware comes in a very rigid, strong and a black colour finish. Depending on the background of your kitchen, it may or may not go well with the aesthetics. Besides, there is not much to choose, if you are looking for cast iron pans or pots. On the other hand, enameled cast iron cookware comes in unique and very vibrant colours, which will definitely match your kitchen, irrespective of its background.
Winner – Enameled Cast Iron
2). Money or Affordability – A cast iron cookware is very inexpensive and the price varies from brand to brand. You can get a cast iron pan for around 1,500 rupees in India and it will certainly last long. Enameled cast iron, on the other hand is extremely expensive and to get a branded enameled cast iron pan from brands such as Lodge, you might have to spend at least 5,000 rupees. Similarly, Le Creuset enameled cast iron pan will cost you around 15,000 in India. Having said this, always remember, you get what you pay for.
Winner – Cast Iron
3). Maintenance – If by maintenance, you are more concerned about regular seasoning of the cookware, you can choose enameled cast iron, since it does not require regular seasoning, unlike cast iron cookware. In this way, enameled cast iron cookware is easier to care for.
Winner – Enameled Cast Iron
4). Durability – There is no doubt about the fact that cast iron cookware, if maintained well, can even last for a century. In fact, it’s the only piece of cookware that can literally be passed from one generation to the other. But, is the enameled cast iron cookware durable too? Not really, since enamel cast iron cookware comes with a coating, and scratches or poor maintenance over a period of time can finish the life of the enamel cast iron pot or pan.
Winner – Cast Iron
5). Nonstick Capabilities – If you are really looking for a piece of cookware, which can provide you a nonstick cooking experience, choose cast iron over enameled cast iron. However, it is not that simple, since you will still need to season a bare cast iron cookware from time to time to get a nonstick finish on the surface of the pan. In terms of the comparison of nonstick capabilities, uncoated cast iron has an edge over enameled cast iron.
Winner – Cast Iron
6). Acidic Cooking – There is hardly an Indian kitchen, that can survive without the use of acidic foods such as tomatoes, vinegar, lemons, etc. As a matter of fact, most of the curries we cook have tomatoes and a pinch of lemon in it. If acidic cooking is a requirement for you, go for enameled cast iron cookware, since you cannot cook acidic foods in a bare cast iron pan, since the metal will leach with the food contents.
Winner – Enameled Cast Iron
7). Heating – Cast iron unlike Aluminium is not known to be an excellent heat conductor, this means, it will take time for the cast iron pan to get hot. If you compare cast iron to enameled cast iron, enameled cast iron pans will take even more time to get hot due to their low thermal conductivity. Having said this, both these cookware types can retain the heat for longer periods. Cast iron pans do tend to emit smoke, check how to reduce smoke from cast iron pans.
Winner – Cast Iron
The Final Verdict – Cast Iron vs Enameled Cast Iron
Both the types of cast iron cookware have certain flaws and benefits. You will have to choose one, which fits your requirement even more. As a beginner, you can choose cast iron, learn to season it with time. If there is no budget factor, you can also choose enameled cast iron, since you can cook acidic foods in it.
FAQs – Pros and Cons of Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
Q. Who should buy enameled cast iron cookware?
A. Cast iron is a must have cookware for the Indian kitchens, given the fact it is ideal for slow cooking dishes such as tandoori chicken, chicken curry, biryani, etc, and it is extremely durable at a low price. Having said this, bare cast iron is not ideal for acidic cooking, which is why, one should also invest in a decent quality of enameled cast iron cookware.
Q. Are there any health risks with enameled cast iron cookware?
A. A cookware can pose a health risk, if it has the tendency to leach any kind of chemical or metal into the food you are eating. In this case, cookware made from aluminium is not considered food safe. However, when you are cooking in enameled cast iron cookware, there is no risk of metal leaching into your food, hence it is correct to say there is no health risk associated with enameled cast iron cookware. Moreover, enameled cast iron cookware does not even rust.
Q. Is enameled cast iron nonstick?
A. Enameled cast iron has a natural nonstick surface, and you can cook with little or no oil. You should also note that enameled cast iron is best if you are cooking at low or medium temperatures, not at extremely high temperature.
Q. Is enameled cast iron good for Indian cooking?
A. For most of the Indian dishes or Indian style of cooking, we tend to do a bit of browning, especially to the onions and spices. The fact that we let the food cook slowly at a simmer pace makes enameled cast iron a perfect cookware choice. You can cook delicious pulao, curries, and even performing frying and roasting if you have enameled cast iron cookware in your kitchen.
Q. Which is the best enameled cast iron cookware in India?
A. If you want to invest in the bestenameled cast iron cookware in India, you can consider buying Lodge or Le Creuset, as these are the best enameled cast iron cookware brands, all over the world. You can check out Lodge Iron Dutch Oven or Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Pan.
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