Dutch Oven woes
July 14, 2017 5:40 PM   Subscribe

Someone turned the wrong dial on an electric stove top. An empty old orange Cousances 22 (like a Creuset) enamel pot was sitting on the high burner for a while, maybe 20-30 min. The interior was previously a beige enamel with a darkened bottom, but now the center bottom is pale white with a chalky texture. Could this be still safe to cook with? If not, can we fix this?

One suggestion that we've heard is from ceramicists who could put it into their kiln and try to re-fuse the ceramic coating, but this idea is fairly theoretical.
posted by ovvl to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My gut feeling says the pot is a goner. 20-30 minutes on high. That's a long time.
posted by danep at 6:50 PM on July 14, 2017

Boil water in it and see if flakes. Fry an egg in it and see if it sticks. I'm sorry.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:53 PM on July 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think your pot will be covered under the warranty that LeCruset offers. I can't look it up on my phone, but I'd bet a Dutch oven full of cassoulet that you can get it replaced or repaired.
posted by jennstra at 6:58 PM on July 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

It might have done it a world of good. Clean it up, it might just be the ash from whatever dark stuff was on the bottom.
posted by Oyéah at 7:41 PM on July 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yeah you have to test it. Water and egg frying are good, could also just slowly heat some oil and see what happens.

If it continues to flake it's a goner, but I too suspect it might it be just surface organics that charred.

If the finish is ruined, I'd bet a stew that repairing outside of warranty or insurance is more expensive than replacing it.

One option for a flaky finish might be to sandblast (cheap) and fall back to a bare metal Dutch oven.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:54 PM on July 14, 2017

In my experience these pots (or pans) can take a lot of abuse, and unless they flake, that is, unless the chalky texture is actually the enamel layer dissolving, they might be fine. As others said: try to clean it properly, test it with some foodstuff that won't make you cry if you have to throw it out, and see how it behaves. My related question...
posted by Namlit at 1:46 AM on July 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

The enamel coatings on these pieces are fixed by firing at something like 840C. It seems unlikely that sitting on an empty burner got it up to this temperature. Generally speaking, when you see the coating flaking away on a piece of enameled cast iron cookware, it's due to uneven expansion/contraction causing the coating to "lose its grip" on the iron (i.e., the iron expands or contracts faster than the coating, or the other way around). Most often this happens when people attempt to cool down an overheated piece with water, thus actually ruining their cookware while trying to preserve it (the thing to do is move it off the heat and let it cool down by itself). Any browning or residue or whatever is likely just stuff that was on the inside of the pan (if you're talking about the interior of the pan, it's not supposed to be darkened). There are Le Creuset-branded cleaning products (Cousances was made by Le Creuset for many years) you can get that are specifically designed for these products. A brief soak with a mild bleach solution will also often help cosmetically.
posted by slkinsey at 7:41 AM on July 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

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