Care and maintenance of a Le Creuset pan?
October 26, 2010 4:45 AM   Subscribe

How to properly care of a Le Creuset frying pan?

My boyfriend and I recently received this gorgeous Le Creuset frying pan as a gift from a bunch of friends who pooled together. We're absolutely delighted, and want to make sure we get the most out of the pan.

When we received the gift, a couple of the givers mentioned that we shouldn't wash it with soap, but should keep it seasoned instead. However, the care instructions on the Le Creuset website beg to differ, saying that washing with soap is possible (though of course, no scouring).

My understanding is that enameled cookware does not generally need to be seasoned. Am I right in thinking that? Is there any benefit to seasoning the pan even if it's not strictly necessary? If yes, what's the best way of doing so? And how often?

Also, we're in the habit of washing all cookware with soap and a sponge after use. The Le Creuset website mentions that you can also wipe out the pan with a damp cloth, minus soap. As long as the pan looks clean after wiping, are there any health/hygiene risks to not using soap? Or would the pan suffer if we used soap every time?

Does anyone have any other general tips or tricks for keeping a pan like this at its prime for as long as possible?

If it makes a difference - the pan is still boxfresh, has not yet been used, washed or seasoned in any way.
posted by greenfelttip to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I know that the purists will probably disagree, but for over 20 years we have owned a full set of Le Creuset cookware that gets used daily and gently washed when it needs it. It isn't like we dunk them in soapy water and scour away, but we DO wash and rinse them thoroughly. So far they still look great, and as far as I can tell, we have done them no harm.
posted by lobstah at 5:01 AM on October 26, 2010

You don't need to season a pot that is enameled on the interior (I question whether that would ever be possible--seasoning works on the slightly rough surface of a cast iron pan; the enameling, by contrast is already perfectly smooth).

I just wash my Le Creuset cookware with soap and water. Keep in mind that these are tools that are commonly handed down from parent to child to grandchild. I wouldn't call them delicate.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:04 AM on October 26, 2010

Your friends are confusing the proper care of enameled and non-enameled pans, which are fundamentally different. Seasoning is for exposed iron surfaces, which you don't have.
posted by jon1270 at 5:14 AM on October 26, 2010

Unlike lobstah, I do dunk my Le Creuset cookware in soapy water and scour away. Why not? The cast iron is sealed, the enameled surface doesn't require any seasoning, and like Adm. Haddock says, they are made to last for generations.
posted by cabingirl at 5:14 AM on October 26, 2010

Most of the LeCreuset stuff has a white enamel interior. Your pan has Satin Black which could be a little different.
posted by coolsara at 5:35 AM on October 26, 2010

I've had one of those pans (or one that looks identical) for 23 years. It doesn't look new any more but it's still my favorite pan, and it still works a treat. I've used soapy water but no scouring, and no dishwashering. It is built like a tank, in both weight and finish.
posted by itsjustanalias at 5:55 AM on October 26, 2010

According to the site, you can even put it in the dishwasher. That's what we do with ours pretty regularly, and I haven't noticed any degradation at all. Though we've only had them for about 2 years now, so I guess take that with a grain of salt. I definitely wouldn't be using steel wool or anything, but soap and water and a sponge is fine.
posted by Grither at 5:58 AM on October 26, 2010

The description for the pan you linked indicates it has a "Satin Black enamelled interior" and is "Oven, grill, freezer and dishwasher safe". No seasoning is required, or even possible I'd wager.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:04 AM on October 26, 2010

Best answer: I have a bunch of various Creuset pans that were wedding gifts from when my parents got married 30 years ago.

One has white enamel and was dishwasher regularly. The enamel has a patina but the pan still works great.

Two have black enamel. I washed one regularly with soap, and the other I just wipe out after use. The washed pan has a dull patina, the wiped one is glossy and pretty much nonstick. Again, both work great.

Finally, I have one brand-new (4 years old) white enamelled pan. I wash gently in the sink with soap and water. It still looks brand new.

So, basically, do whatever is easiest/best for you. These pans cannot be destroyed. And don't stress too much - nothing is worse than fighting about frying pan care. If someone "messes up" and uses soap or whatever, your pan will still be great.
posted by k8lin at 6:16 AM on October 26, 2010

I have that pan (albeit with a wood handle). I also have the big reversible grill and some pots with with white enamel interiors. All are more than 10 years old. In my experience you can't hurt them. You may slightly discolour them. You might get reduce their releasing tendencies for a while by cooking something very acidic or scrubbing with soap and steel wool but they will endure.
posted by hawthorne at 7:54 AM on October 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, you have put my mind at rest. Seems as if it won't be as easy to damage the thing as I thought it might be. Now to make some dinner plans so it can be put to good use for the first time!
posted by greenfelttip at 8:04 AM on October 26, 2010

Not only will it not be as easy to damage as you thought it would be, but if you somehow do manage to damage it, Le Creuset will really, truly, just send you a new pan if you call their customer service people. They're not kidding around about that "lifetime guarantee" thing. As far as my experience has shown, this includes user error as much as manufacturing flaws.
posted by booknerd at 8:10 AM on October 26, 2010

From the LC site:
    Cleaning Satin Black Enamel ALWAYS COOL ANY PAN FOR A FEW MINUTES before washing. • When possible rinse the pan in hot water and wipe over the surface with a damp cloth. This may be possible if the pan is used for regular cooking of foods where the food residues are minimal. • For more thorough washing use hot soapy water, then rinse and dry thoroughly. • To remove stubborn or sticky residues fill the pan with warm water and leave to soak for 10-15 minutes. Wash rinse and dry in the usual way. • Allow the brownish black patina to build over the cooking surface as this greatly enhances the cooking and release performance of foods from the surface. A washing up brush can be useful to remove small food deposits, or for cleaning between ribs. DO NOT use any scourers or abrasive cleaners on the cooking surface. • Exterior marks, such as burnt on fat deposits, can be lightly scoured using a nylon pad, or can be cleaned off with regular use of the Le Creuset Pots and Pans cleaner. • All metal handled pans can be washed in the dishwasher but this greatly reduces the build up of the patina. For grills and skillets, in particular, this will result in continued longer use of oil or fat for cooking. Always allow a dishwasher cycle to complete before opening the door. An incomplete cycle retains moisture in the machine and damage to the pan may occur.

posted by alleycat01 at 8:18 AM on October 26, 2010

... or everything everyone said above. Whoops.
posted by alleycat01 at 8:19 AM on October 26, 2010

I have 2 well-used LC pieces that were given to me by a retired food editor. I have no idea how she cared for them. I have put both in the dishwasher with no ill effects (only did this when they were REALLY in need of a good cleaning). Mostly I just use a sponge and dishsoap.

I do notice that I don't have to scrub them very much in order to clean. They are white enamel inside with dark marks from years of use.

These are the best pots I've ever used (and I use them a LOT), and if I could afford more, I'd buy more in a fast minute.
posted by sundrop at 8:51 AM on October 26, 2010

Agree that they're confusing Le Creuset with Cast Iron cookware, likely based on the similar weight of the two (they're both bloody heavy).

Le Creuset you can happily clean with soap, as others have said.

Cast iron cookware you just rinse with water to keep them seasoned.
posted by kryptonik at 12:44 PM on October 26, 2010

There are two possibilities:

If it is uncoated cast iron on the inside of the pan, your friends are correct that you should not wash with soap but instead wipe down with a damp sponge and allow the natural oils to season the pan (whether it came "pre-seasoned" or not - you're still not supposed to wash cast iron with soap). Even if you can use soap per the instructions, you still should allow the oils to continue to season the pan.

If it is enameled on the inside, no amount of "seasoning" is going to change anything and you should wash with soap and water as you would for any other enamelware. I have the classic Le Creuset dutch oven and use soap and water to no ill effect.
posted by Sara C. at 12:55 PM on October 26, 2010

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