Enameled Cast Iron Vs Cast Iron: What the Heck is the Difference Anyway?
So, if you have spent a little time in the camping and cooking world, you most likely are aware that there are two distinct types of cast iron cookware. There is the enameled type, which basically has a layer of glass that is powdered down, melted, and coated over the cast iron to form a protective layer. Then there is the other type that you often see in camping supply sections, often referred to as bare cast iron (you can refer to my previous post about best cast iron dutch oven for camping), or simply cast iron. In this article, I am going to do my best to give you a rundown comparison of enameled cast iron vs cast iron and their different uses, purposes, and pros and cons, so that you can make the best decision regarding which product you need and for what purpose.
Most people will look at the above and wonder, aren’t they interchangeable? The short answer is, well, yes and no. It really is going to boil down to what you plan on using it for and how you plan on using it. In the enameled cast iron vs cast iron cookware game, there are too many variables to give you a straight, clear and simple answer to that question. It’s sort of like asking an apple farmer if granny smith and red delicious apples are the same. Well, technically, they are both apples, but they are different breeds of apple, and they are used for different things. Do you follow me so far, or are you just thinking about apples, applesauce, and apple pies now? Now that I think about it, I don’t think I have had lunch yet, either. That may be why I can’t stop thinking about apples. Ah, the power of subliminal messages.
But anyway, back to our debate… What were we talking about again? Oh, right. The differences between enameled cast iron vs cast iron. Okay, so let’s look at this in list format first, and then we can go from there. After we get the list focused out, then we can discuss some of the things that you need to ask yourself when trying to decide which ones you need and why.
Enameled Cast Iron Vs Cast Iron
Bare cast iron is generally cheaper.
What does this mean for you: Well, it really is going to depend. You are here reading about enameled cast iron vs cast iron, right? So, you have an interest in the products, and probably have a need for some kind of cast iron product of some sort. What is your budget? Are you on a fixed income? Then you want to stick with what is not going to break the bank. Unless any of the other conditions apply, of course.
Enameled cast iron is non-reactive.
What does this mean for you? Well, do you cook a lot of acidic foods? Tomato based soups, chilis, and sauces, for example, are very high in acid content. The acid will eat away at the seasoning layer, and eventually, at the iron itself. It will rust. So, if you are debating on enameled cast iron vs cast iron products, and you do a lot of tomato based cooking, you may want to stick with the enameled products.
Bare cast iron is non-stick (kind of).
What does this mean for you? Bare cast iron is non-stick if it is seasoned well and seasoned properly. This takes a little bit of finesse and understanding of how to do it the right way, but it is easy to find out how to do with some simple internet searches and there are some pretty good tutorials on YouTube as well. So, if non-stick is a priority for you, in the debate of enameled cast iron vs cast iron cookware, bare cast iron is probably going to win out for you. And nothing is going to stick worse than melted cheese. Trust me, mess up a grilled cheese sandwich while your 5-year-old is screaming for lunch. You will see exactly what I mean.
Bare cast iron can add iron content to the food you are preparing.
What does this mean for you? Well, this one is a little… interesting. Are you anemic? Do you need added iron in your diet? If so, then you might actually want more iron in your dietary intake and so the bare cast iron is a better choice for you. The enameled pieces are going to keep the iron out. Well, seasoned bare cast iron pieces will not leak as much iron into the food. So, this one is kind of a toss-up as to which way is better in the enameled cast iron vs cast iron debate.
Enameled cast iron may not be as durable.
What does this mean for you? Well, again, this one can kind of vary a little bit. Some brands of enameled cast iron may have the enamel chip off over time and have pieces of the enamel end up in your food. You also wouldn’t want to use enameled cookware in an open flame. Bare cast iron is nearly bulletproof. Even a rusty piece can be restored to like-new condition in many cases. So, in the enameled cast iron vs cast iron debate, consider how you will use the piece, but in this regard, many people say that the bare cast iron wins out for durability alone.
There you have it, five major points to consider about enameled cast iron vs cast iron cookware. Which one is right for you? Well, consider the above points and think about which scenarios apply to you. No one is going to be able to tell you which is the best for you in a blanket statement. It just really is not that simple. There are way too many variables that need to be considered right off the bat. But with a little thought and a little bit of insight, you can very easily weigh all the pros and cons of each type and decide which one fits your needs based on where, when, why and how you plan on using it.
Deciding which one is better for you in terms of enameled cast iron vs cast iron cookware is never a simple decision. What is right for me may not be the same as what is right for you. There are a lot of great products in both categories that will fit literally any budget if you just do a little digging, so give a few a try and see which ones work best for you. First and foremost, have fun with your culinary adventures. Happy cooking!