While traditional cast iron cookware is still an essential part of any kitchen, the majority of cooks and chefs prefer the enameled version. Enamel-coated cast iron is much easier to clean and there are no seasoning issues. The inner coating has some mild non-stick properties and prevents iron leaching into your food. These cookware pieces come in a variety of vibrant colors to meet customer expectations and to match existing colors in kitchen design.
Is Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Safe?
The use of non-coated cast iron cookware can result in iron raising to toxic levels. Excess iron levels in the body can lead to serious health problems. This, of course, isn’t a problem with enamel-coated cast iron. The main benefit of enamel coated pieces over traditional cast iron vessels is their inertness. The enamel coating is non-reactive, so you can cook all types of foods in an enamel pot. Once the enamel coating has been removed from the interior surface, it may no longer be inert, and cast iron in the pot’s core will leach into the food.
Enamel-coated iron cookware is considered safe, according to the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. The lines of cookware imported from abroad must meet the FDA safety standards. The importation of products that contain potentially toxic substance cadmium in their glazes is prohibited and manufacturers have discontinued the use of cadmium-based and lead-based pigments.
To ensure the safety of your cookware, buy only good quality enamel products from trusted brands. The coating must be thick enough that it won’t easily chip. Avoid bringing in glazed cast iron vessels from abroad.
The following are some advantages that enamel coated cookware offers:
1. Enameled cast iron cookware is healthy and safe to use. Unlike bare cast iron, these utensils don’t interact with your food, so you can cook any type of food in them including tomatoes and other acidic foods.
2. Enamel coating provides a non-stick surface that makes cooking easy without food sticking to the bottom.
3. High quality enameled cast iron pieces are extremely durable. The products last for many years and can be passed from parent to child.
4. The pans and pots can be heated to high temperatures (not so high as bare cast iron), which makes them a popular choice for searing and braising foods.
5. Cast Iron construction conducts and holds heat well, providing an even consistent temperature throughout the entire pot.
6. Superior heat retention is helpful in keeping the food warm when serving. Enameled cast iron pans only need a low to medium heat, which makes this cookware energy efficient.
7. Enameled cast iron cookware is suitable for all heat sources and any type of stovetop. It is also acceptable for refrigerated food storage and can be used as a serving dish on the table.
8. The enamel glazed surface does not need any kind of seasoning, so it requires very little maintenance. Enamel glaze also prevents rusting and comes in various colors for visual appeal.
Enamel Cookware Disadvantages
1. Larger enameled cast iron vessels may be rather heavy for general use. However, many chefs prefer heavier and more solid items over thin pieces that have a tendency to warp or become dented after use.
2. Enameled cast iron has a lower thermal conductivity compared to bare cast iron. It will take a bit longer to reach the desired temperature. However, the heat remains evenly distributed across the entire pot for good cooking.
3. The porcelain enamel coating is relatively fragile and can be prone to chipping after some time. It also may crack if you bang the pot too hard. Abrasive cleaners can damage the enamel.
4. Metal utensils may scratch or chip the coating. You should use wooden or silicone utensils instead of metal.
5. Another downside is that enamel cast iron cookware can be very expensive. It generally costs more than an uncoated version particularly when it comes to well-known brand names such as Le Creuset and Staub.