With a name like Amazing Braising, you probably figured that I love the results from slowly cooking meat in a heavy pot. My favorite way to braise my meats is to give them a quick sear on the outside in my enameled cast iron Dutch Oven or Braiser, then pop into a low-heat oven for a few hours. You can check out some of my favorite braising recipes here.
Anyone who loves enameled cast iron as much as I do has probably encountered crazing, especially if they are inexperienced and still learning. It can be heart-breaking to find crazing in the bottom of your favorite pot, since there is little that can be done to repair it.
What is Crazing and Why is It Happening to Me?
Crazing is a web of fine cracks that shows up in the enamel of your cookware. In my experience, once they start, there is no way to stop them. You really should stop using any piece where you start to notice crazing, or bits of enamel can come up and get into your food.
Crazing can be caused by a few different things.
- It can be the result of a defect in the enamel or enameling process.
- Boiling a pot dry can cause some crazing.
- Heating a pot too hot, too quickly repeatedly can cause crazing.
How Can I Prevent It?
There are some things that are beyond your control, but you can do some things to make crazing less likely:
- Do not preheat your enameled cast iron on high — low and medium heats will be enough to cook almost any food you will want to cook in a Dutch Oven.
- Only use high heat if boiling water.
- Never let your pots boil dry.
Well, Now What?
If it’s your favorite pot, or you spent a lot of money on it, you probably won’t want to just throw it away, so what are we to do? Unfortunately, there are no ideal options, but not all is lost.
Rely on the Warranty – Many quality brands have lifetime warranties that cover manufacturing defects. Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, and Tramontina all offer warranties against defects. Le Creuset even goes above and beyond and offers a replacement for inherited items at a 65% discount.
Re-Purpose – You may miss the familiar and perfect results you get from your favorite Dutch Oven, but you can make a beautiful planter, centerpiece, breadbasket, or drink bucket (depending on the size).
Baby It – This is not ideal, and I must warn you that you are doing this at your own risk. If you use extra care, soft utensils, low and gentle heat, and watch for worsening damage; you can squeeze a little more use out of your favorite pot. Make sure to be extra gentle while cleaning. As I mentioned, this is not a recommended route, since crazing can lead to chips of enamel coming loose from the iron and getting into your food.
What Do You Think?
Crazing can be a heart-breaking thing to find in your cookware, but it isn’t the end of the world. What have you done when you developed crazing in your cookware?