When it comes to the best Dutch ovens, Staub and Le Creuset are two of the best manufacturers in the market. Here is a great comparison of Staub and Le Creuset. Le Creuset is the iconic French cookware with a century-old history, the object of admiration and lust of millions of cooks. Today we will look at the features of cast-iron cookware Le Creuset: what are its advantages and disadvantages.
A few facts about the company Le Creuset
The company was founded in 1925 by two industrialists from Belgium – Armand Desager, a master of foundry, and Octave Obeke, a specialist in enamel. The companions founded a small manufactory in the north of France in the town of Frenois-le-Grand, and, combining the experience of iron casting and enamel production, created unique for that time cookware made of enameled iron.
The first product produced at the Le Creuset factory was a bright orange cast-iron pot (cauldron). It is still the symbol of the brand and orange color is still the most favorite among the customers.
Le Creuset company is a family business. Since 1987, it belongs to entrepreneur Paul Van Zuydam.
The company exports 95% of its products to more than 60 countries.
How Le Creuset cast iron cookware is made
In terms of quality and innovation criteria, Le Creuset cast iron cookware is that high standard, which other manufacturers, claiming the “premium” category, look up to. It is no secret that Le Creuset pots and pans are inherited from generation to generation.
Speaking of cast iron cookware Le Creuset, it is worth noting that this product is handmade. The production employs 83 specialists who are responsible for the processes of casting, enameling, quality control and packaging.
For each new piece, Le Creuset craftsmen make two templates, an outer and an inner one, which are filled with black volcanic sand. This special sand retains the imprint of the product, and most importantly, it withstands the high melting temperature of cast iron, equal to 1500 ° C. Templates are fastened at a distance of 3.5 mm from each other, leaving a gap, in which cast iron is subsequently poured.
The molten metal is fed into the casting machine from a special barrel called a “Creuset.” It was this word that gave the company its name, Le Creuset.
From the casting machine, hot metal is poured into molds, filling the distance between the inner and outer halves with black sand. As it moves along the conveyor belt, the cast iron alloy cools to a temperature of 70-80°C. At the end of the casting line, the mold is automatically broken, the future product is taken out, checked for defects and sent for further processing.
This ensures the absolute uniqueness and high quality of all cookware made under the Le Creuset brand. The items found to be faulty are set aside for melting, and those that pass the first stage of quality control are given a surface treatment: cleaning and sanding.
Then the pieces are subjected to quality control again and sent for enameling. Two layers of enamel are applied to each Le Creuset product. The transparent primer covers the entire product, including the top edges and rims, to ensure reliable protection against surface corrosion and cracking. The colored enamel, made of silicate glass, is applied in two phases to the interior and exterior surfaces of the product, followed by a firing at 800 ° C, which leads to a strong and beautiful finish, shiny and bright.
After firing, a final stage of quality control takes place, after which the products, having passed a rigorous selection process, are sent for packaging. In the packaging process, the products are fitted with handles and carefully packed in boxes that also contain a leaflet detailing the product and its care.
The main advantages of cast iron cookware Le Creuset
- World famous brand – the prestige, the guarantee of quality and durability.
Convenience – The lightest and most spacious cast iron on the market. (The size of the cookware is determined by the diameter of the bottom, not the base).
- Versatility – The cookware is suitable for use on gas, ceramic and induction stoves and in the oven.
Stable results during cooking – achieved thanks to uniform heat distribution, perfectly flat bottom, the same width of the sides, lid and base.
- Juicy and fragrant dishes – thanks to the domed design of the lid and its tight fit to the inner base of the cookware.
- Energy efficiency – cast iron retains heat for a long time.
Hygienic and easy care – the smooth vitreous enamel does not absorb the taste and smell of food, allows you to keep cooked dishes in the refrigerator, easy to clean and wash.
- Possibility to create a stylish interior – thanks to the wide range of bright colors and unique design.
Safety – cast iron cookware is stable and durable, the smooth bottom does not scratch the glass-ceramic burners.
White and black enamel – what is the difference?
Le Creuset cast iron cookware has different colored enamels on the inside.
White enamel is used on most pots with the exception of cauldrons. It is dense, smooth and not porous, and does not absorb odors and flavors of food. Because of the absolute resistance of white enamel to acids coated with it dishes are suitable for pickling and storing food in it. White enamel is suitable for all types of cooking except frying.
Black enamel is used on frying pans, grills, sauté pans, tagines, roasting pots and cauldrons. Compared to white enamel, it has a more porous structure which makes it ideal for frying in oil. It does not need to be preheated by adding fats.
All Le Creuset dishes, except those with wooden handles, are dishwasher safe. However, when taking care of dishes with black enamel, you should consider the following nuance. In the process of use, the porous surface absorbs grease, forming a layer of patina – a natural non-stick coating. Under the influence of aggressive detergents and high temperatures, the patina is washed away, and the dishes lose their non-stick properties. Therefore we recommend you to refrain from using dishwashers to care for dishes with black enamel.
How safe is the coating?
In the past, cast iron cookware was made using hazardous chemical elements like lead and cadmium. That’s why you can’t store leftovers in your grandmother’s old cast iron pans and pots. Today in the culinary industry, the use of these substances is subject to close scrutiny. The most stringent standard in the world that applies to these chemical elements is California State Law No. 65, which allows lead and cadmium at 10 times the “maximum allowable limits.” Le Creuset’s manufacturing process complies with the requirements of this law. As a matter of principle, the company does not use lead in its compositions. Cadmium is used only for coloring the outside of dishes in orange, cherry and yellow colors. Special anti-acid enamel frites are used that prevent the release of cadmium pigment during cooking.
Care and use
- Cooking results and the life span of your cast iron products depend on proper use and care. To ensure that the cookware you buy will please you for many years and will be passed on to future generations, follow simple rules of care and use.
- Before using the cookware for the first time, you should remove all labels from it, wash the product in warm soapy water and dry it.
- Cast iron can be used at low and medium temperatures.
- Le Creuset cookware is not suitable for dry cooking, oil must necessarily cover the bottom of the cast iron base. To minimize the use of grease, spray the pan with oil using a cooking sprayer or grease with a cooking brush.
- Do not overheat empty cast iron cookware, and do not allow the liquid to boil over completely – this can damage the enamel.
- Do not use a knife to cut food inside the pot or pan, do not use an electric or hand-held whisk inside the molds, and if possible, do not use metal accessories to avoid damaging the enamel.
- Avoid sudden temperature changes to avoid cracking. Do not rinse hot cookware with cold water and do not put it from the refrigerator into the preheated oven.
- If food remains stick or stick to the inner surface of the dishes, leave them to soak, then rinse them as usual. Do not use aggressive or abrasive detergents, metal sponges or washcloths.
- After washing dishes, wipe them dry immediately and keep them in dry cupboards or ventilated rooms.
- Black enameled dishes should be washed with vegetable oil. This stimulates the build-up of the patina layer which enhances cooking performance.