Seasoned vs Enameled - How to choose?
A question from the FAQ files: should I buy a Seasoned Dutch Oven or an Enameled one?
There's no wrong answer! Let's get into it.
Enameled Dutch Ovens
The porcelain enamel on our Dutch oven is a durable glass and clay coating, bonded to a cast iron core in a high temperature kiln.
The more matte an enamel finish is, the better suited it is for searing proteins. We've developed a "semi-gloss" finish as a good midpoint between a matte (rougher) finish for performance and a gloss (glassy) finish for ease of cleaning. The matte finish is also chip and scratch resistant.
Why might you want an enameled Dutch oven over a seasoned finish?
Our enameled Dutch oven can be cleaned with soap and water and requires no special treatment to keep it looking good.
A non-reactive finish
Our enameled finish is acid resistant and non-reactive, meaning that you can cook anything in it without worrying about damage to the finish. Seasoned cast iron can sometimes tinge acidic foods, like tomatoes, with a metallic taste. (More on this below.)
You need something versatile
Do you love to make soup? You need an enameled Dutch oven. Boiling water in a seasoned pot can pull up the oil-cured finish. If you have limited storage space in your kitchen, an enameled Dutch oven can pull double-duty as your stock/pasta/canning pot.
Ok, that all sounds good. What is the benefit of a seasoned Dutch oven?
It's naturally non-stick
Like your favorite cast iron skillet, seasoning on a Dutch oven builds to a reliable nonstick cook surface with use. You do, however, need to follow specific (but easy!) maintenance steps to keep it looking good and performing well.
They are indestructible!
There's nothing you can do to this pot to damage it - knock it around, throw it in the car for a camping trip, it'll always look good as new. Our porcelain enamel is durable, but chipping is possible with rough use.
Open fire cooking
Campfire cooking can be unpredictable. Enamel, like all glass, is subject to thermal shock, and can crack if exposed to extreme temperature swings. The thick walls and heavy lid on our Seasoned Dutch oven maintain a steady temperature in a fire's uneven heat.
What about cooking with acids?
It's true that enameled cast iron is acid resistant, but a healthy seasoning layer in your Dutch oven is almost as protective. America's Test Kitchen found that a pot of simmering tomato sauce didn't degrade the seasoning for 30 minutes, meaning those tomatoes mixed into your chili are going to be just fine. The only thing we've ever had an issue with at home was baked lemons - oops!
Cast iron cooking raises iron levels.
According to an NIH study, small, healthy amounts of iron are absorbed into food cooked in seasoned cast iron.
You are a bread-making virtuoso.
Serious bakers sometimes prefer seasoned cast iron for its ability to take on a flavor profile over years of singular use. Both finishes are great for home cooks and either Dutch oven makes excellent bread.
Still have questions? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you decide!