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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lodge Color cookware

There's two kinds of cast iron on the market today: Traditional, "natural" cast iron (which includes pre-seasoned and not pre-seasoned), and Enameled.

If it's not pre-seasoned, it will have a wax coating that needs to be removed. The easiest way is to put it on an outdoor burner and melt the wax off.

If it is pre-seasoned, you still should season it, and it will still stick the first few times.

If it's enameled, it's rust resistant, and no seasoning required. For people who hate the extra care that cast iron requires, that's a benefit.

Enameled cast iron was developed by the French, because they were tired of having to season their cookware.

It should be noted that enameled cast iron is NOT "non stick"; You still have to grease the pan before use. You just don't have to season it.

Another proposed benefit is being able to use it on glass cooktops. However, the instructions state in small print that you still need to be careful and LIFT the cookware to move; never slide. I've read reports of people using regular cast iron without a problem, but it's not recommended.

So I guess I will never own a glass cooktop.

Another proposed benefit is being able to cook tomato based dishes. Personally, I've not had a problem with cooking tomato based dishes in traditional cast iron, although I wouldn't cook "from scratch with real tomatoes" sauce.

Enameled is still not recommended for the dishwasher or microwave.

Since it's rust resistant, you can put your pan with the leftovers directly into the refrigerator overnight, or marinate your meats before cooking, which would be convenient.

And technically you can put it in the freezer too, but why would you want to?

The drawbacks are: It NEVER becomes "non stick", as cast iron does after seasoning; Enamel can chip or crack; You can't use it outdoors; You can't use metal utensils; And, it costs much more.

Also, enameled is oven safe only to 400 degrees*, so it's not broiler safe. Traditional can stand higher temps than that.

*Actually, this was due to the plastic knob.  Lodge has since replaced that with a stainless steel knob.  So now it's oven safe to 500 degrees.

I rather like that cast iron is indestructible, suitable for outdoor use and metal utensils, and is a good bargain! So for me, compared to its drawbacks, the proposed benefits of enameled cast iron are not enough to justify the extra cost*.

*I have since obtained one enameled pot.

The Lodge Color cookware is its enameled line, in various colors. They also have the L series, which is more fancy and expensive

The colors aren't just red, green, blue, and brown. Oh no, they're Island Spice red, Emerald green, Caribbean blue, and Cafe Brown.*  Ooh.

*They've added two new colors:  Burgundy and Pumpkin.

There's a rectangular roaster, an 11 inch skillet, and various sized pots with lids.

At one point I considered the roaster, balking at the price. I didn't think there were any traditional cast iron roasters, until I found the one by Old Mountain.

Lodge Color cast iron is less expensive than other brands that exclusively sell enameled cast iron, such as Le Creuset and Straub. I can't imagine the more expensive brands being that much better quality, or more functional.

So if you feel that the benefits of enameled justify the extra cost, despite its drawbacks, then Lodge Color is what I recommend.

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