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What is Enameled Cast Iron Cookware?

Enameled cast iron cookware has been coated with a vitreous enamel glaze. This type of coating was popular on cast iron pots and pans in the late 1800s through the early to mid 1900s.

It lost favor as new metal alloys and Teflon were introduced, however it remained popular for Dutch ovens.

Now this type of cookware is regaining favor as studies are showing there may be health problems from using non-stick pans and many consumers are becoming more educated about the quality of their cookware.

The enamel covers the cast iron to prevent rusting and it eliminates the need to season the pan. The enamel does not react with any type of food. Enameled pans are easy to clean and are safe for oven use as well as on the range top. The enamel is attractive, as pigments can be added to make exciting, vibrant colors.

Enameled cast iron cookware is ideal for braising and other methods that require long cooking over low heat. While the larger pans especially may be rather heavy, these beautiful pots and pans can easily be used on the stove and as a serving dish on the table. They are suitable for baking, broiling, braising, sautéing and marinating. They also can be put into the refrigerator or the freezer safely.

This cookware is very energy efficient. Food can be cooked on low to medium heat since cast iron cookware retains the heat and keeps food hot longer than any other type of cookware. You can use this type of cookware on any type of stove top without worry, just be cautious with the weight on a ceramic top stove. Set it down easily, don't bang the pan on the burner.

Is Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Lead-Safe?

Enameled cast iron cookware does not contain lead. Even the lines of cookware that is made in China do not contain lead with the exception of some glazes that are used on crockpots. These glazes pass the FDA standards, however and any lead that leaches out is below the amount allowed by the FDA.

Back in the 1970s, there was a problem with enamel cookware that contained cadmium in their glazes. Cadmium is very toxic. Importation of these items was prohibited at the time and today's manufacturers no longer use pigments with cadmium in them, so they are now considered safe.

Manufacturers of Enameled Cookware

Probably the most well-known manufacturer of enameled cast iron cookware is Le Creuset from France. While this cookware is expensive, the company offers a 99 year warranty and is well-known for repairing or replacing pans that develop any problems.

  • Chasseur is another French company that makes beautiful cast iron cookware that is enameled in many colors. They make some unusual items like a cast iron steamer and pate molds that feature lids with a rabbit or a duck on them. Prices are similar to Le Creuset.

  • Lodge also makes a line of enameled cookware to complement their extensive line of bare cast iron pots and pans. This line is a little more affordable and may be found at many outlets.

  • Calphalon also offers a new a line of enameled cookware in a variety of attractive colors. Prices range below Le Creuset and Staub, but above Lodge.

  • Staub makes a complete line of enameled pots and pans that is available in many bright colors. This beautiful line is less expensive than the Le Creuset, but may stretch some budgets.

  • Tramontina from Brazil also has a line of enameled cookware that is budget-minded. Reviews are good on their cooking and longevity.

  • Mario Batali offers a line of enameled cast iron cookware made by Copco that has received good reviews.

Several other celebrities and chefs have introduced lines of enameled cast iron including Emeril Lagasse, Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray. Emeril cookware is manufactured in China and has had some good reviews. He also includes some interesting pieces.

Rachael Ray's cast iron enameled cookware has been given good marks as well. They are priced at a moderate level for this type of cookware.

Martha Stewart's enameled cast iron sports a phenolic knob and comes in some nice pastel colors.

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