Dutch ovens are one of the most popular cookware items for any serious home cook. However, choosing between an enamel vs cast iron Dutch oven might be bewildering when you intend to purchase a new Dutch oven.
Aside from their unlike appearance, they differ much more in terms of maintenance, durability, stickiness, and price. Therefore, this article will provide a detailed comparison between these two types regarding their similarities and differences.
Overview Of Cast Iron And Enamel Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven is a big pot with solid walls and a heavy, tight-fitting cover that prevents steam from escaping and retains moisture in your cooking. In addition, Dutch ovens are often made of cast iron. As a result, they can go straight from the stovetop to the oven and keep their heat remarkably well once they’re up to temperature. That is why it is frequently used for slow cooking, braising, and stewing.
Furthermore, people usually mention two types of Dutch ovens:
- Cast iron Dutch oven: as its name implies, this is the classical type in this family.
- Enamel Dutch oven: These are Dutch ovens with an enameled finish on the inside and outside of the pot. They are available in a wide range of stunning colors, including nearly every color of the rainbow.
Similarities Of Enamel Vs Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Enamel and cast iron Dutch ovens are also often made of cast iron. In detail, the former simply adds a coating of enamel on top of the cast iron by fusing them at extremely high temperatures.
Due to the same primary material, the enamel Dutch oven can absorb and retain heat just as effectively as a cast-iron one. Moreover, both of them are heavy pieces of cookware.
Differences Between Enamel Vs Cast Iron Dutch Oven
People will place a different emphasis on each of the qualities based on their needs. Thus, while deciding whether an enamel Dutch oven is a better buy than a cast-iron one, the differences between the two will come into play.
As mentioned before, the most apparent distinction between enamel vs cast iron dutch ovens is their appearance. While the traditional ones have only a dark interior, the enameled versions can have lots of color coating on the cooking surface.
Thus, compared to enamel Dutch ovens, cast-iron ones will not be very useful in improving the attractiveness of the kitchen since they do not have any color options that enable you to select your preferred color.
Honestly, longevity is a noticeable downside of enamel Dutch ovens. After being used for a time, the enamel coating may chip or break. As a result, you should use it cautiously and avoid using metal utensils to maintain its covering. Moreover, the outer coating may also chip if it comes into contact with a harsh surface when cleaning or cooking.
On the other hand, the cast-iron Dutch oven is long-lasting and has little risk of cracking since this version has no enamel covering. In addition, it is not difficult to use, and you may return the rusted-looking pot to its original form if desired. Therefore, cast iron cookware is frequently passed down from generation to generation.
When it comes to a cast-iron Dutch oven, it is worth noting that you should maintain it regularly. Also, it must be seasoned before use and may need to be reseasoned from time to time to keep it from sticking. However, it is prone to rust if not correctly cared for.
Meanwhile, enamel cast-iron Dutch ovens don’t need as much protection and do not require seasoning. In addition, because the enamel covering prevents rust, it is far easier to maintain than cast iron.
The cooking surface of uncoated cast iron cookware can be sticky, mainly when it is new. Yet, seasoning and using it frequently are the way to create a natural nonstick coating layer. Therefore, the used cast iron one passed down from generation to generation is a treasured family asset.
Most enamel Dutch ovens have a smooth cooking surface. Although manufacturers said that the enamel version is naturally nonstick, they’re a little bit sticky. So, it can be slightly improved over the uncoated form, which becomes slicker with usage. Yet, unlike naked cast iron, you can’t build up the same layer of seasoning on the cooking surface.
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Cooking acidic food
One of the primary drawbacks of bare cast iron Dutch ovens is cooking acidic food. In detail, because acidic foods quickly react with iron, the seasoning will get damaged, and your meal might end up with a metallic taste. While it’s not harmful to your health if a small amount of metal gets into your food, no one wants the perfect food flavor to turn out weird with mixing metallic taste.
Daily cooking acidic foods in a bare cast iron pot is still a no-no. Similarly, leaving acidic food in the pot for an extended time can remove the seasoning you have built. As a result, while using ingredients like tomatoes, chiles, and vinegar in your dishes, you must take extreme caution.
Fortunately, an enamel Dutch oven has no such problem. That’s because this Dutch oven version is covered with an enamel layer, which is non-responsive to acidity. Hence, if you wish to cook acidic foods, enamel cookware can be more convenient.
In general, while enamel Dutch ovens are now available in various pricing ranges, they are still more expensive than cast iron ones. On the high-end segment, Staub and Le Creuset are the two of the most famous Dutch oven brands for appearance and quality. For example, they sell for more than $300 for a medium-sized enamel Dutch oven. However, it is worth its price.
Otherwise, if you want more affordable ones, Lodge and Tramontina are recommended. They are barely a fraction of the price of Staub and Le Creuset but are still well-evaluated. Furthermore, these are not much more expensive than an uncoated cast iron Dutch oven.
Enamel Vs Cast Iron Dutch Oven: Which One Is Better?
Deciding whether an enamel or cast iron Dutch oven is better depends on each person’s needs. For those who care about durability, an uncoated cast iron one is the recommended choice. Indeed, if appropriately maintained, traditional cast iron cookware will last forever. In particular, this is also an excellent option for outdoor cooking.
However, if you want to decorate the kitchen with colorful items, the enamel version will be better. Furthermore, while some people choose cast-iron Dutch ovens due to their longevity, others want to put off the seasoning process and prefer to settle for an enamel version, although their lifespan is shorter. Yet, because it is not as durable as a bare cast iron one, it is only suitable for indoor cooking.
In summary, when choosing a Dutch oven, you should consider all factors such as longevity, maintenance, convenience, budget. Indeed, the decision to choose any cookware affects the quality of your meal.
Hopefully, after this article, you can get hold of similarities and differences between enamel vs cast iron Dutch ovens. Thus, this knowledge will help you make a wise choice to enjoy your cooking time.