Le Creuset Cookware Company began production of its unique enameled pots in 1925. It was born of a meeting between Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq at the Brussels Fair. After talking they came up with the idea to open a foundry where they would enamel cookware.
The foundry was set up in Fresnoy-le-Grand, Aisne, France. It was a perfect location for the foundry since it was right on the transportation route for coke, iron, and sand; raw materials that would be needed in the process of creating the cookware. The first item to be produced was the cocotte, a covered casserole.
As the small company grew and increased in popularity, adding to its line, trouble with Germany was brewing. The foundry was very near the front lines and became part of the area that Germany occupied during World War II. After the war Le Creuset went back to making cookware and by 1952 it was being imported all over Europe and the United States.
What’s the Big Deal?
If you have never cooked with Le Creuset you may not understand what all the fuss is about and why some cooks swear it is better than any other cookware. Here are some reasons why this particular brand is so popular:
- It is durable. It isn’t unusual for someone to be using 40 to 60 year old cookware
- It heats perfectly and evenly. Food doesn’t burn easily
- It cleans easily. The enameled coating keeps food from sticking to it
- It is pretty! There are numerous colors available
- It is consistently high quality
- Can be used with gas, electric, induction, or ceramic ranges
- Flat bottoms sit firmly on the surface of your cook top
- Porcelain enamel coating won’t absorb odors or flavors
- Lids seal in moisture and flavor
- Knobs are heatproof up to 450 degrees F
It is so heavy that you can turn off a soup or casserole thirty minutes before it is scheduled to be done and the food will keep cooking in the retained heat of the pot!
How Le Creuset Is Made
Le Creuset is cast iron cookware that has had enamel applied to it. It retains all of the cooking benefits of the cast iron and is easy to clean, pretty, and won’t rust. To produce the shape of each pot and pan two sand moulds are made. One is the shape for the inside of the pot; one is the shape for the outside. These moulds are fitted together with only a small gap between them.
Into this gap go the melted raw materials of the cookware. The shape is cast and allowed to cool. Then it is removed from the mould and set aside to be finished. Interestingly the mould is then broken, the sand recycled, and no other piece will be exactly like the one just made.
The pots are then smoothed and finished. The surface has to be very smooth for the enamel to go on it correctly. Once this is done a clear coat of enamel is put on and left to dry. It is then followed by the colored coat and the piece is finished up.
Buying the Pans
Most people can’t afford to just go out and buy a complete set of Le Creuset cookware. It is expensive – even if it is worth every penny. However, it does make excellent gifts for showers and weddings! You can easily create a set piece by piece since it lasts so long. The first piece you collect will still be going strong when you buy the last piece.
Buy Le Creuset for a reputable dealer. You can also find outlets once in awhile. Buying it second hand is great when you can find it…just make sure you look it over carefully for cracks and other flaws that might cause problems when you use it.
Caring for Le Creuset
Always wash your Le Creuset by hand in hot, soapy water and then air or wipe dry. If you have stuck on food the company recommends soaking the dish in a mixture of dish detergent and hot water. If the pan boiled dry and is stained then let it cook, fill it with a solution of powdered laundry detergent and warm water at a ratio of 1 tablespoon detergent to two pints water. Make sure the laundry detergent is one of the brands that has stain removers/grease dissolvers in it. Boil the mixture in the pan, simmering for a few minutes. Don’t let it boil dry again! Repeat if necessary.
The company also makes a special cleaner which conditions the surface and keeps your cookware looking good.
If you initially balk at the cost keep in mind that this stuff is going to be heirloom. It will last your lifetime and your grandchildren are probably going to be cooking your famous beef stew in it long after you’re gone. The fact that it cooks food evenly is another benefit. Just be careful about dropping it on tile counters, the weight can crack the tiles easily.
Do you have a favorite brand of cookware? What is it?