Enamel Coated Dutch/French Ovens

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by schmoozer, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Many years ago I purchased a Le Creuset French Oven, and it's provided great, dependable service for 30 years.  A slightly larger capacity model would be desireable, and while I'm considering Le Creuset, the less expensive models are of interest.  What long-term experiences have you had with these lower- and low-priced models?  Do they last?  How well are they made?  Are they well suited to their tasks?  Browning, braising in the oven, making small batches of soup and sauces would be the required tasks here.

    Thanks for any suggestions or comments,

    Schmoozer
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
  2. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    I'd like to know the answer to this question, too!
     
  3. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Most of the other brands haven't been around long enough to compare longevity-wise with the Le Cruset products.

    Other than that, there is no reason they shouldn't do the same jobs. They're made the same way.

    About a 18 months or so back I got an 8-quart oval Calphalon, and it's served me in good stead. Will it compare to the Le Cruset products we got as a wedding gift more than 40 years ago? Only time will tell.

    I get this one on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond. Paid 70 bucks for it. But even its normal price is only about a quarter or a third what a comparable Le Cruset costs.
     
  4. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Well, KY, I'm not sure other brands are all made the same way as Le Creuset.  One of the reasons I asked the question is because I've read that the enamel coating on the items made in China are not quite the same as LC, both in terms of quality and content, and that the cast iron is made differently as well.  Perhaps someone will know about these issues.

    Schmoozer
     
  5. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Considering Lodge's standards and customer service as well as their third party testing for their enamel, I think you'd find them quite good and durable and safe. And not particularly expensive.
     
  6. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Schmoozer, it's not simply a choice between Chinese-made and Le Cruset. Enamaled cast-iron is made in several countries, including the U.S., Italy, and France (that is, French companies other than Le Cruset).

    By "made the same way" I meant the process. As I said, long-term quality is an open question.
    As to Chinese cast iron, it runs the gamut from poor to excellent. Any problems, though, are likely to show up on the poor end, because the castings tend to be poreous, and don't cure readily. But that's not an issue if it's been enamaled; the coating fills in any large pores, pits, and occlusions.
     
  7. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Perhaps you can tell me what cast iron enameled pots are made in the US. I don't know of any.Thanks,
     
  8. duckfat

    duckfat

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    The Lodge enameled cast iron pots you see at places like wally world or some of the kitchen stores are made in China. I guess you just have to ask your self with all of the contaminated products we have seen in the news over the last year or so if you are comfortable trusting your health to a cooking product made there. There could be impurities in the thin cast iron that could lead to early failure but I would be a lot more concerned with the chemicals that were used to color the enamel. I wouldn't want to trust any of the thin Chinese made enamled cast iron pots at temperatures required for a no knead bread recipe. I have read a lot of complaints about the lids on the Chinese Lodge and the Batali lines warping. There's not exactly a lot of over sight in the Chinese manufacturing process so God only knows what kind of metal they are using.
    IIR Lodge does make an enameled line in the USA but it is more expensive than Le Creuset or Staub. If it helps I picked up an 8 quart Le Creuset oval at Costco for $160.
     
  9. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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  10. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    That's for lead and cadmium only, not other contaminants.  In addition, numerous reviews of several brands of Chinese made enameled cast iron products complain about the quality and durability of the coatings.  I think that I'll bite the bullet and go with Le Creuset or, maybe, Staub.  It surprises me that so many people and companies are trusting their reputations to questionable Chinese made products.
     
  11. jkgourmet

    jkgourmet

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    I'm a Le Crueset fan all the way.  If you've had one for this long and been happy with how it performs and it's durability, why go with anything else?

    I have used Lodge and been reasonably happy with it, but not as happy as I am with LC.  And Staub seems to have the quality of LC, IMO, but I've never bought one because they are even heavier than LC.  And nobody has the color and size choices offered by LC (did you know they have eight colors now????)

    And let's be honest.  Don't you like it when your guests look at your cookware and recognize it from The Food Network and know it's what Julia Child used to use?  :)

    I did a post recently on my blog to help people determine what size dutch oven they should buy, and what shape would work best for them. I hope you enjoy it and find it valuable.

    Enjoy your new cookware!
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010
  12. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    I really can't disagree with you, and, since yesterday, decided that LC is the way to go.  I am most interested in reading your comments about size.  Thanks!
     
  13. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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  14. jkgourmet

    jkgourmet

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  15. mahealani

    mahealani

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    I have the Lodge L series large dutch oven and I love it.  I used to covet it while watching I think it was Dave Lieberman (?) on the Food Network.  It's that apple green with the metal (L?) on top (so I've no problems with knobs).  When I went to buy it, I liked it a lot better than the Lodge Color Series which is much easier to find and is the type most people find at your local Target (I wasn't impressed with that line too much).  My L Series weighs a ton so it always sits on my range.  I've owned it for a few years now and used it often and it's been great. I also coveted the Le Creuset, but for the size, I couldn't afford one and I really have been happy with this one.  I've never seen these in stores, but bought mine off of Amazon when there was a special price....
     
  16. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Today I bought a Le Creuset.  After thinking about for a while, getting feedback here and other places, reading reviews and comments, and remembering how much I like my first Le Creuset, and how many times I've bought a cheaper model or brand of something and have ultimately been disappointed, I decided to buy another.  I got 20% off at BB&B, and will pick up the pot in a few days.  The local store didn't have one in stock so it's being hand carried over from San Francisco.

    FWIW, I got the Black Onyx  http://iweb.cooking.com/images/products/enlarge/218237e.jpg   it looks great and is not a color that's usually seen.

    Thanks for everyone's input.  And my thanks also to Theresa at BB&B.  She called the SF store and made sure the pot was inspected and was free of any defects, scratches, blemishes, and the like, before being sent over. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
  17. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    The main, and perhaps the only, reason I'm reluctant to go with Staub is that they have a black interior.  That makes it difficult to see how the food is cooking - how onions may be browning, what the fond looks like, how dark a sauce or stock may be getting.  At least for me it does.  The white LC interior makes it easier to see the progress of the food, and easier to see how well the pot is cleaning up.

    I doubt my quests would be that savvy about the cookware - well, maybe a few would be (my friend Chrissy would, that's for sure /img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
  18. cabosailor

    cabosailor

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    Schmoozer,

    I'm sure you'll be happy with your LC, if it wasn't for the ungodly price I'd get one too.  As I posted today on another thread, I had an inexpensive, presumably Chinese knock-off, market by Martha Stewart.  The enamel has begun to separate.  There are a couple of brands listed above that I'll look into but so far, with the exception of LC, they all have experienced similar problems.  Even Lodge has their enamel done in China.

    Happy braising,
    Rich
     
  19. schmoozer

    schmoozer

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    Hey, Rich ... I picked up the LC this afternoon.  My, what a nice looking piece - Black Onyx with an almond interior.  I can't wait to break it in.  One unusual, but very nice, thing about this pot is that it came with the stainless steel knob, not the standard phenolic one.  Theresa did say she'd have a surprise for me.

    Like you, it would have been nice to save some money and get a less expensive brand, but like you, I have heard too many stories about the enamel chipping and, in some cases, peeling, off.  Plus, getting the pot at BB&B means never having to be concerned about returning or exchanging gthe item should there be any problem.  No need to spend extra money for shipping to and from the manufacturer and waiting for them to determine if I'll get a refund or replacement item.  That's worth something.  And the staff is so very nice and friendly.  It's a pleasure doing business with them.
     
  20. jkgourmet

    jkgourmet

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    so glad that you got the LC, Schmoozer.  And I hope the information on my blog was of some use to you.  BTW - GREAT point on the black interior on the Staub.  Never thought of that, but you can be sure that I will mention it on the blog sometime soon.

    I've got two pieces in the black onyx and I like them. Perhaps the least 'pretty' of the colors, but certainly the most serviceable.  and since we bring our largest Le Creuset Dutch Oven with us when we go away for the summer, the black just seems to go with everything more easily.