Guide to Choosing an Enameled Dutch oven

Guide To Choosing an Enameled Dutch Oven

Guide To Choosing an Enameled Dutch Oven

Enameled Dutch ovens are some of the most useful and versatile cookware available on the market. Many top chefs and professional cooks use Dutch ovens. Fortunately, they are also highly accessible to everyone, meaning even a beginner can benefit from this coveted cookware.

If you’re interested in owning an enameled Dutch oven, we’ll guide you through its various applications and how to choose one suited to your needs.

What Is an Enameled Dutch Oven?

A Dutch oven resembles a casserole cooking pot, except it has thicker walls and a heavy, tight-fitting lid. They are also wider and shallower than regular stock pots. Thanks to its durability and design, a Dutch oven is highly versatile and is excellent for sautéing, frying, roasting, baking, and so much more.

In comparison, the classic Dutch oven from the eighteen hundreds was made of cast iron. Although they are still being made today, it’s mostly professional chefs and cooking enthusiasts who use them because they require special care and maintenance (cast iron cookware requires regular “seasoning” with oil to prevent oxidation and protect the pot from rust). And because old-school Dutch ovens are heavy, many find it difficult to cook with them.

Modern-day Dutch ovens are now available in various materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and ceramic. These are lighter and better heat conductors than cast iron, hence, they are more often used for everyday cooking than the old-school cast iron. One version that particularly stands out is the enameled cast iron Dutch oven.

Made of cast iron and three layers of enamel coating, enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are low maintenance and much lighter than a traditional cast iron Dutch oven. They don’t rust easily and are also easy to wash. Enameled cast iron is the most commonly made and available version today. When people talk about Dutch ovens, this is the version they mean most of the time. Therefore, enameled cast iron is an excellent choice for a first-time owner of a Dutch oven.

Okra Green Dutch Oven next to flowers

At Larder & Vine, our enamel Dutch ovens follow the modern construction of cast iron with durable enamel coating. It is the most common and favored construction of Dutch ovens today. Their size and cooking performance make whipping up special dishes more enjoyable and rewarding.

Choosing a Dutch Oven: Things to Consider

Now to the important part: how to choose a Dutch oven. There are five main features to consider to ensure you can make the most of your purchase:

1. Material

An enameled cast iron Dutch oven is a good choice if you don’t mind a hefty yet durable cooking pot. Cast iron retains heat exceptionally well, so food can stay warm long after you take the pot off the stove. And if you use a Larder & Vine Dutch oven, it comes equipped with enamel coating, which is exceptional at distributing heat evenly throughout the pot.

Aluminum or copper core pots also cook food evenly. However, aluminum doesn’t retain heat very well, so it’ll be best to serve the food as soon as you’re done cooking. Aluminum and copper are also reactive when exposed to acids and prone to rust. Similar to cast iron, you’ll need to season them often to prevent rust.

Stainless steel is the opposite of aluminum and copper: it doesn’t react to acidic food and doesn’t need any coating. You can also cook with it on an induction range. Unfortunately, stainless steel has poor heat distribution, and food tends to stick to it. Food can get burned quickly when this happens, so finesse is a must when cooking with a stainless steel Dutch oven.

2. Coating or Finish

The coating on a Dutch oven depends on the material. For example, manufacturers coat aluminum Dutch ovens with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). Teflon popularized this finish. The brand is also famous for producing cookware that is “non-stick.” Food doesn’t adhere to PTFE, which makes it easy to cook savory dishes or fry food that tends to stick to ordinary pans.

For us at Larder & Vine, enamel is the perfect coating for cast iron Dutch ovens. Enamel is a glass-like coating that protects cast iron, so it’s no longer necessary to season the pot. Moreover, enamel is very tough. It doesn’t scratch or wear out easily. It has impressive non-stick properties, so it’s easy to clean and doesn’t retain bad odors. It gives cast iron cookware a perfect finish, both aesthetically and functionally.

3. Your Cooking Habits

Do you like to cook outdoors and bring pots, pans, and ingredients to whip up meat dishes when camping? If yes, then a cast iron Dutch oven is for you. But an enameled Dutch oven will suffice if you don’t fancy bringing heavy pots to cook al-fresco and prefer to cook indoors. Keep in mind, however, that metal isn’t a good match for enamel cookware. To make your Larder & Vine Dutch oven last as long as possible, we recommend using only silicone or wood utensils when cooking.

Enamel can scratch and chip when the pot’s knocked around or if you use something sharp like a fork to stir food, so they’re not the best choice when you’re roughing it. 

Your stove is also an important consideration. If you cool on an induction cooktop, you can choose aluminum, stainless steel, or enameled Dutch ovens.

4. Size

Enameled Dutch ovens vary in size. You’ll find smaller, ¼ quart pots and bigger, 8-quart versions that can fit a whole chicken or turkey for special occasions. So consider how much cooking you usually do. Do you cook for your whole family daily or just yourself? Choose the size that best matches the amount of food or servings you typically cook.

Larder & Vine’s 5.7 quart enameled Dutch oven is ideal because it’s just the right size for most stew recipes. It’s also big enough to cook four to six servings at once. If you only need to brown some butter, caramelize onions, or sear meat, you can do so comfortably with a pot this size.

5. Shape

Many overlook size when choosing a Dutch oven, so we include it here. You’ll need to consider the pot’s shape, whether it will fit your stovetop, and if it’s ideal for the type of cooking you plan to do.

A round pot is a safe choice as it should fit any stovetop. An oval pot is trickier on a stove but might fit better in your oven. The oval shape is also better when roasting a whole chicken, and you can even bake bread in it as the shape is perfect for sliced bread!

Use these tips to find a Dutch oven that suits your budget and cooking needs. To start, check out the enameled cast iron Dutch ovens at Larder & Vine. You’ll also find care instructions and tips on keeping your Dutch oven in good shape at all times on our website. If you have further questions, you may contact us anytime.

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