Lodge is one of America oldest manufacturer of cast iron cookware. While most people use their skillet as their go to pan, the dutch oven is often overlooked. Overshadowed by Le Creuset, most choose the french counterpart. However, if you take a closer look at the design and performance of Lodge Dutch Oven, you can see why it deserve a strong consideration. There are two type, enamel and bare cast iron. The one you choose should depend on what you need.
Is Lodge as good as Le Creuset
Le Creuset is known as the go to choice for high end cookware. They have beautiful enamel colors that suits any kitchen. However, when you get down to it, its just cast iron. You cannot change the inherent property of cast iron to improve its performance. What you can do is change the thickness and shape of the pot.
In that regards, Le Creuset has some benefit over lodge. From thickness to handle design, it is a bit ergonomic. But that is really dependent on the user.
Lodge Dutch Oven Enamel vs Cast Iron
Enamel cast iron is bare cast iron with a enamel coating. That enamel coating is a glass coating that gives it color and protects the pan from rust. The problem with enamel coating is that glass has a lower thermal conductivity than cast iron. This means that it heats up slower and have a poorer searing capability.
When you brown meats and sweat vegetable, you will actually get better performance from the bare cast iron. Lodge makes both variety, so you have option from either one. The cast iron model is still made in USA with a traditional dutch oven shape. But the enamel one is made in China.
Shape of these two pots are different as well. The bare cast iron model is more straight sided and in line with a traditional dutch oven. The enamel one has modern touches. The handle is wider with a smooth interior. It curves inward so that its easy to scrape with a spatula. Width is also slightly wider than the cast iron model.
A dutch oven is extremely versatile. They are used to make soups, stews, braises and even bake bread. If you dont have a pasta pot, then use a dutch oven. They are typically large enough to fit 4 qt of water.
They are also great for braises, sear it on the stove then stick it in the oven for a braise. Since heat radiates around the pot, food that sits above the water will caramelize adding flavor.
How to Clean Lodge Dutch Oven
In terms of cleaning, the enamel dutch oven is easier. You can use soap and a sponge. It will work just fine. After a while, the glossy enamel coating will become matte and dirty looking. However, that does not affect its performance.
For the Bare Cast Iron, thats something else. I recommend soaking it in water and using a sponge to clean it. Since it sits in water during the stew cycle, its unlikely that food will get stuck. If you do find rust, you can use sandpaper to remove it or use a rust eraser. Lodge Rust Eraser is a good choice for light surface rust.
Do not use Lodge Dutch Oven in the dishwasher. They heat soak the dishes and can cause rust on your pot.
Lodge also makes a variant that is designed for camping. There are a few difference which is the feet and the loop handle. They are designed to hang over the fire or it can rest on top of the ash. It should not be used on the stove top. Although you can probably try, its not going to work very well. The feet gets in the way.
List of Lodge Dutch Oven
Below, you will find a list of the different Dutch Oven that Lodge makes. They are all slightly different, choose one that best suits you.
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven With Stainless Steel Knob (Best Overall)
This enamel dutch oven is the best of their line up. The enamel coating makes cooking and cleaning easier. It resist rust and the handle is comfortable. The interior has a nice smooth gradient makes cooking easier overall. However, it is made in China so be sure of that before buying. If you want the American made model, check out the bare cast iron.
Lodge Pre-Seasoned Dutch Oven With Loop Handles and Cast Iron Cover, 7 Quart (Best Performing Model)
While enamel is pretty to look at, the performance is not as good as bare cast iron. They transmit heat better and get a better crust on food. Great if you do a lot of stews and need to build flavor. The thing that I would caution against is cooking acidic food. It can strip the seasoning and eventually make it rust. You might need to reseason it if that happens. Just coat it in with a thin film of oil and bake it in the oven at 350. Half an hour should do, repeat as necessary.
Lodge Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven (Best For Camping)
If you camp a lot and need a outdoor dutch oven, then this is the one to get. The feet keeps the dutch oven up and away from the ember. Plus, you can use the wire hook to let it hang as well. This model is wider than the traditional model making it easier to stir and reach food as well. There are a lot of different sizes, choose one that best suits you. Just be aware, it wont work well on the stove top.
Is Lodge Dutch Oven Any Good?
Yes, Lodge Dutch Oven is well made and perform well. All the different models will cook stew and bake bread. The enamel model is the easiest to use and resist rust. Plus the colors are attractive. However, the coating does degrade searing performance. In that case, get the bare cast iron. Just be aware that it can rust if you leave it soaking in water. For cabins and camping, then you might want to get the one with feet. They sit above the fire or you can hang it over the fire.