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Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Sad Day for my Le Creuset Dutch Oven?

I don't believe I've ever mentioned my Le Creuset Dutch Oven.

It was passed down to me from my Grandma, who was the most traditional Hausfrau you could imagine.  Super German, and super awesome in the kitchen.  I learned a lot just by watching her.

Anyway, this was the only thing I got from her, and my only keepsake from what seems another lifetime.


  
I don't claim to know much about Le Creuset, their product line, or its chronology... but I'm pretty sure this one is old.

Probably not like super old, but I'd guess at least the 70s.  Possibly older.

I've tried to identify it, but there is surprisingly LITTLE information out there of Le Creuset's back catalogue...  it's all recent stuff...




So, first off, if anyone reading this knows what this is, including age and colour identity, PLEASE let me know!

It is an enameled cast iron, like most of LC, but the only identifying marks are on the inside of the lid and on the bottom of the base.

Lid:




It clearly says LE CREUSET and FRANCE, in an old typeface.  And "BC" on the other side.  Weird that the lid is "BC" when the base is "C"... but they fit perfectly with each other... so not sure what's going on there.

The base also says LE CREUSET, and the only other identifying mark, which I think is just a plain, upper-case 'C'.





I'm pretty sure the 'C' corresponds to the size of the oven.

Anyway, it's really gorgeous still, and in relatively decent shape.



But... there is... something... happening on the inside.

When I brought it out this week, I noticed something was flaking on the inside, and when I picked at it, several large flakes of something came off.

I got scared at first, and thought that it was the enamel finally coming off.
Which would suck, because I'd have to get rid of it.  Yes, I've heard their warranty and customer service is fantastic, but they clearly state you have to be the original owner.  :(

But after a second glance, I'm not so sure that it is the enamel...



If it was the enamel which had 'flaked' off, wouldn't the exposed area underneath be black cast iron?

Cause it's not.  It's very much white still...

So... was it instead the decades-old-baked-on-brown patina that flaked off?



You can see in a few places that brown/black stuff has chipped off, but surprisingly (to me at least) it is NOT showing bare metal anywhere.

So...  does that mean it's still safe to use?  I mean, I'm not afraid of using bare cast iron... I have many pieces of cast iron cookware, and I know how to season them with oil and keep them clean and such... so that isn't the issue here.

The issue here is that enamel.  Once a pan begins losing its enamel, it is recommended that it no longer be used for fear that that ENAMEL could enter your food.

That's my only concern.

It doesn't look like it is the enamel that is coming off... but then what is going on with that black stuff?  It never even budges when I scrub at it.

Honestly, when you look at it (and feel it) closely, it doesn't feel like baked on food particles or residue.  It's so smooth to the touch it's weird.  Like REALLY smooth... it feels strange.  And it (normally) doesn't come off at all.  Like even with things like barkeeper's friend and steel wool (I know, but I'm careful with it).  So it's super weird that this stuff just flaked off on its own...  Creepy weird.

Anyway,,, I think I feel safely enough about the fact that that is NOT enamel chipping off that I will in fact continue to use this awesome dutch oven.

But, if anyone reading this has encountered this before, or suggests I shouldn't keep using it, I would certainly appreciate hearing from you!

:)