enameled cast iron: Staub/LC vs Mario/Kitchen Select

bungalowbeesSeptember 26, 2006

Does anyone own both the "big brands" and the "off brands" and have experience to comment? I have a few questions about why I should pay up to 4x the price for similar pans.

1. Is there a safety issue with the color process? What is the difference in "enamel" processes?

2. Will one chip or wear more easily, say the first couple years, and do you know this from experience? (I understand some come with different warranty years but frankly 25 yrs versus "lifetime" becomes moot as a cook moves on in years and has little time to sweat the small stuff. Will I really dog the company at 75 if I chip a favorite pot I picked up for a song at TJMaxx?)

3. I can see Staub, for example, has the raised dots on the lid, LC & the lesser priced do not. Any other design differences? Is it just a matter of pot shape?

I have a couple Mario Batali and a couple Kitchen Select. The newest, a 5qt KS which runs $35-40, I've probably used 20x. The others more than I can count. I find them all easy to use & clean, and easy on the eyes. The KS is about 1/4 the price of the LC. What exactly are we buying, outside of marketing? The special shapes I understand. But what about 2 similar round pots?

Others have noted a bit more cast iron on the edges but I don't find this to be a problem. I hand dry & would do the same with any brand. I put no pan in the DW, so that's not a consideration.

If there was a health issue I'd switch in a heartbeat but I can't see a performance issue. Than again, I don't own the higher priced versions!!!

Anyone with both out there?

Any "pot engineers?"

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athomein1914, it seems that the way you have phrased your post, that you have really made up your mind already based on your personal experience. All you will really hear from others is theirs.

You already seem to be aware of some slight differences, but if you're happy with the cooking results, then all seems to be well. :-)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 12:04PM
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Mario Batali's have been catching my eye left and right.

I had such a bad experience with my last dutch oven, that I'm unsure of whether or not to try again.

(It was a Martha Stewart Everyday...hey! stop that laughing! lol )


    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 8:26PM
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I have Le C and an "other brand" covered pot.
I see no difference in the way they cook and clean up.
But I am sold big time on enameled cast iron!
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 11:58PM
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Linda C, thanks. This is what I'm wondering about since I only have the "other brand" pots -- but have other purchases ahead. I do love enameled cast iron now that I've tried it and am now also considering giving a couple as gifts. This is a bit trickier since there are well-known companies out there & I may be giving a pot to an enameled cast iron "virgin." I don't want to be cheap but it seems silly to purchase something just for the name, whether for myself or a friend. On the other hand, if there is a difference in quality, I'd like to know & may very well shell out more money on the next few purchases.

I like to give the same quality as a gift I would enjoy myself, and this puts me in a quandry over enameled cast iron! I've spent a lot of money on some pots in my kitchen, a song for my beloved wok. Trying to get it right here! I would give someone a wok with confidence because I know a bit about them. But colored cast iron is a new visitor in my kitchen life.

suzyq3, I haven't made up my mind at all since I only have experience with the brands I mentioned. These are new purchases since my remodel last year. Sometimes I buy a needed item in my price range, and upgrade later as budget & knowledge expand. I do have several purchases in my future and will have a bit more to invest -- if it's worth it! Spent a bundle on my kithen, for example, but some items were spendy, some thrifty -- I benefitted tremendously from the experience of folks in the Kitchen Forum. (Thanks, guys!) I'm interested in long-term performance and health issues. Personally, I looooove the looks of Staub but current budget considerations keep me from indulging my "fine" taste!!!

Nat, okay, I've stopped laughing, what was your experience with Martha?

And has anyone else cooked with both high-end & low-end enameled cast iron? Is your take similar to Linda's or have you had other experiences? TIA!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 11:41AM
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Well...no matter how careful I was, it continuously developed rust around the edge. I had followed all directions, and each time I carefully washed it and made sure it was bone dry prior to storing, it would rust again. I tossed it. Now, mind you, there were no moisture issues in my home of any kind, so how this thing always rusted w/ just the normal amount or air moisture I'll never understand.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 1:09PM
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Thanks, Nat. I'll watch my edges. I have to say I've taken no special care with the pots in my kitchen. I've only begun to dry a bit more carefully since reading about rust here -- I'm afraid I often just let things air dry upside down! Maybe I don't have rust because I'm in a dry climate, or maybe I'm about to see rust!

Why would one pan rust over another though? If a tiny bit of cast iron is exposed to air vs a bigger bit, isn't it still the exposure? Is there another difference in the material or design?

Also, can you ever really get rid of rust once you have it?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 10:56AM
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To take care of the rust, use a little Barkeeper's Friend (the powdered one). It will wisk it right off. Then rinse and dry. It happens to the top edge of my Le Creuset dutch oven if I don't dry it and let it drip dry upside down. I have never had it rust just sitting in the drawer.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 5:50PM
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This thread is exactly what I was wondering about. I went looking for an enameled cast iron dutch oven today. I went to several HomeGoods/TJMaxx/Marshalls and found an oval LC 5.5 qt for $129 and a round Kitchen Select 5 quart for $40. I could see no real difference between the two, other than the extra .5 qt and the oval shape of the LC. I actually prefer the round shape for stovetop cooking, so I chose the Kitchen Select at 1/3 the cost of the LC. This particular Kitchen Select was originally for Kohls (sticker still attached) but they no longer have the Kitchen Select brand on their website. I would like a few more peices. Is there anyplace else to buy them, other than getting lucky at HomeGoods/TJMaxx/Marshalls?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 2:01AM
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I knew I couldn't be the only one with this question!

I prefer the design & colors of the Kitchen Select over LC though I have to say I prefer the Staub design & colors over the KS. But the prices are wildly different & I don't have unlimited funds.

If you keep going back to TJMaxx/HomeGoods you'll see Kitchen Select enameled cast iron in different shapes & colors. I just can't see a difference holding the LC & KS side by side. I posted to see if anyone owns both and knows a difference in use (cooking or cleanup). I'm interested in all the brands, any differences.

jackidr, I bought the 5 quart round KS in a wonderful butternut color that cheers me up so much I feel free to plunk it on the table to serve. So I often pick up this pot over an old anodized round pot in the same size.

A few weeks ago I saw the $40 KS piece you & I purchased at TJMaxx on Amazon for $35 plus shipping, today it's $50. Kitchen Select & Innova appear to be the same (are they?). I'm linking what looks like our same pot for $28. Why such a broad price range for similar products? Is it the price of a French product vs Chinese? What exactly are we paying for with the higher price tags or losing with the lower price tags?

So confused.

Anyone else?

Here is a link that might be useful: Innova / Kitchen Select

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 11:17AM
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Innova is out of business. They made the Ultrex cookware that used to be sold on HSN. They promised a 50+ year warranty and left all their buyers out in the cold with no warranty coverage. When they were in business they considered the enamel peeling off in large sheets from the bottom of the pan a "cosmetic" problem, and would not cover it. If you have a problem with it, be aware there is no company behind it. Read the reviews of it on Amazon. Loads of problems! Best to stay away from Kitchen Select if it is Innova!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 11:00PM
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Wow, thanks! I have no idea if it's the same manufacturer but they look similiar in photos. I've never seen the Innova name on a product in person. I'll check it out again, I didn't see anything close to this last time I looked.

Anyone know more about this?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 1:23PM
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I searched Amazon & only encountered one negative review, the others were all raves. The negative experience was with a pan chipping on the bottom after 6 months, pretty bad, but chipping is way better than peeling. And every LC I've seen at the discount places is chipped! In fact, they're often marked "seconds" & I assume that's how they found their way to these destinations! But I digress...

Isn't chipping a risk with all these products? And don't they all recommend oil when washing a chipped product?

There was one negative review when I googled I couldn't access. Maybe this is the one I need to read, but can't.

Have my eye on Mario for another pot, I like the persimmon in my blue & green kitchen... There seem to be a handful of alternative manufacturers if you have the patience to scout about, probably more coming since color and cast iron are both popular in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 2:06PM
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Kitchen Selects/ Color Cast/ Innova are all the same. Thats the one I bought. The Innova website is still active, but I will keep my box and receipt so that I can return to TJMaxx if it starts to peel.
A few months ago I saw another brand - Authentic Kitchen - at TJMaxx/HomeGoods for about the same price as KS. I passed
at the time because I had convinced myself that I had too many pots and was not going to start down this enameled cast iron road!! Should've known that I didn't have the willpower to resist too long.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 3:31PM
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In the December 2006 Fine Cooking magazine they reviewed enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens. The results were interesting.

Best Fitting Lid-Staub Cocotte 5 qt.
Our Favorite-Lodge Enamel 5 qt.
For Big Batches-Mario Batali Italian Essentials Pot 6 qt.
Most Affordable-Innova Round Oven 5 qt.
Great Find-World Cuisine Chasseur 5 1/2 qt.
Easiest to maneuver-Le Crueset 5 1/2 qt.

They also said the most noticeable advantage over the others is its slightly thinner construction when they were reporting on the LeCrueset and the tick cast-iron construction makes it heavy for its size when reporting on the Lodge. Batali's was the heaviest pot in the line up but also one of the best values.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 5:39PM
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jackidr, saw Authentic Kitchen today at TJMaxx while hunting for another item. Looked just like Kitchen Select / Colorcast to my eye. Great deep red.

marigene, thanks for the hot tip! I'll check out this article.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 5:02PM
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Amazon doesn't have the pieces anymore that had the negative reviews of the Colorcast. There were MANY before that reported the same problem of the enamel bubbling, and coming off in sheets from the interior bottoms of the pots. Innove would do absolutely nothing they said. They are only carrying one cast iron piece now. Before they had loads, and many problems reported with it. Smartbargains.com has the Innova pieces for even less.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 10:29PM
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athomein 1914, I think there is a bit of badging going on. I was in TJMaxx over the weekend and saw the deep red, but it was "Well Equipped Kitchen". A while back I saw the "Authentic Kitchen". I agree that it looks exactly like the Innova ColorCast, execed that the name is actually cast into the lid. The "WEK" that I saw this weekend were oval roasters - small and medium sized. I wish the small was is green, yellow or orange, but all I saw was the deep red. Pretty, but doesn't go with my kitchen. If I buy it, I know I will see the color I want shortly thereafter, so I'll just wait.

blondelle, Do you recall how long it took before people started experiencing the peeling? I'm holding onto my packaging and receipt. Even though TJMaxx says 30 days, they will give store credit if its over that length of time.
Thanks for the info

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 11:54AM
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