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Enamel is certainly one of the most beautiful coatings that can be applied to cookware. Enamel pots and pans are actually made of metal, but what makes them special is the porcelain coating they are covered with.
Moreover, the enamel is not just a coating, the process of applying enamel involves glass or ceramic compounds being fused to the metal underneath, which also makes this type of cookware extremely durable.
In fact, high-quality enamel pots or pans often become heirloom pieces, which is exactly why it can be devastating when you notice stains or discoloration that seem impossible to get off.
Discoloration on enamel is actually quite normal, especially when you have been using the cookware for many years, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your pot or pan.
However, it certainly does not look nice. If you want to learn how to restore discolored enamel cookware to its original state, and also how to prevent discoloration for as long as possible, keep reading!
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Just like with any kind of cookware, regular maintenance will require some scrubbing, and tough stains sometimes take some serious elbow grease. No matter what you are dealing with, whether it’s normal dirt, food residue that has stuck on, or some persistent stains, it’s best to use a gently abrasive sponge made of nylon or similar material that is abrasive, but not so rough that it could damage the surface of the enamel.
Using abrasive products made of metal is not advisable. If you need to scrape burnt residue of the pan, wooden spoons work best, as wood will not damage the enamel either. For best results, you need to do this after soaking in warm water or using one of the methods we will talk about in this article.
When it comes to discolored enamel cookware, baking soda is pretty much the go-to magic solution. That is to say, it will not work exactly like magic, as it does require some effort on your side, but this common household product sometimes works better for stains on enamel cookware than anything else.
There are two ways you can use baking soda to clean an enamel pot or pan, and sometimes it’s necessary to combine both methods. First of all, you can try heating up some water in the pot or pan you are cleaning, and then adding a tablespoon or two of baking soda (depending on the size of the pan), and letting it sit for an hour.
If the stains don’t come off easily after this, the next thing to do is make a thick paste from water and baking soda and apply it across the cooking surface. Take a piece of cloth and scrub until your pot is sparkling clean. This kind of paste will have a gentle abrasive effect, so it’s usually helpful even with tough stains. However, if they persist, you can also try adding some coarse salt to the paste to enhance the abrasive effect. Once you are done, wash the cookware with water and dish soap as you regularly do.
This method is the most common technique for cleaning discolored enamel, and coincidentally it is the cheapest and the simplest one. In case the stains are especially tough, though, there are a couple of other things you can try.
You are probably aware that there is a variety of commercially available abrasive cleansers out there, some of which come in powder form and some of which are in the form of cream.
This kind of product can help with cleaning enamel cookware, but you need to pay attention to which one you choose and find one that is suitable for enamel. It’s best to avoid overly aggressive scouring powders and those that are highly acidic as this can impact the color of the enamel. Your best bet is probably choosing and abrasive cleanser that is labeled as safe for use on enamel cookware.
Once you choose the product, using it’s is not hard. Just apply the cream or powder to the stain and use a wet cloth to scrub until the surface is clean. If the stain persists, you might want to leave the product sitting on the stain for about an hour, then add some more and start scrubbing. Once you are done, wash the pot or pan carefully with warm water and mild dish soap to avoid any residue from the cleaning product remaining on the cooking surface.
Another unconventional trick some cooks like to use is adding laundry detergent to help clean enamel cookware. In order to do this, first gently scrape off any food residue that you can from the pot or pan. Fill the pot or pan with water, wait until it boils, and then add a tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent.
Let the mixture boil in the pot or pan for a couple of minutes, and allow it to slowly cool down afterward. Once you are done, wash your cookware the way you do every day, and hopefully, the stains should come off more easily.
Lemon Juice and Salt
Another method for cleaning enamel cookware that uses common household ingredients is the lemon juice and salt trick. First of all, boiling some water with vinegar or lemon juice in your enamel pot might help loosen up the stains and residue. However, for tough stains, there is another thing you can try.
Cover the problem area with coarse salt. Then, just cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice directly onto the salt. The result should be a thick paste. Use a cloth to scrub the stained area. If this does not do the trick, just like with all other methods, you can try letting the mixture sit on the stain for an hour or two.
Then, add some more lemon juice and scrub away! It’s best to use gloves, though, especially if you have any scratches or damaged skin on your hands, as getting lemon and salt in there will sting a bit!
How To Prevent Stains And Discoloration On Enamel?
Keep Your Enamel Cookware Clean
Even with the best enamel pots and pans (or Dutch ovens, for that matter), some stains and discoloration may appear over the years. However, there are some practices that can prevent this from happening sooner than it needs to. To keep your cookware in the best condition, it is important to wash it immediately after every use with mild dish soap and warm water.
This will prevent stains and residue from sticking in most cases, so you won’t need to scrub and scrape too much, thus keeping the surface smooth. Coating the cooking surface with a small amount of oil, cooking spray, or butter before cooking also helps prevent the food from sticking.
Avoid Extreme Temperature Changes
The base of enamel cookware can be made of various metals, including cast iron, stainless steel, and aluminum, so the way they heat up will highly depend on the material the pot or pan is constructed of.
However, in any case, it is highly recommendable to avoid extreme temperature changes. This means you should always heat your enamel cookware gradually. In most cases, low to medium heat will be enough, but if you need to use high heat let the pot or pan heat up slowly.
Using high heat to preheat enamel cookware and then lowering the temperature for cooking is also not a good idea as it can cause cracks in the enamel. Finally, always let the pot or pan cool down for a couple of minutes before washing it. Don’t fill a hot pan with cold water or the other way around to avoid damage.
Protect The Enamel From Scratching
Once the enamel starts chipping off, your enamel pot or pan is basically doomed. However, it’s easy to avoid this, especially with high-quality enamel pots and pans. Just follow the advice we mentioned above, and also avoid physically damaging the enamel in any way.
It’s best not to use any kind of cleaning products made of metal, like steel wool. The same goes for cooking utensils – going with wood or silicone instead of metal will prevent you from accidentally scratching the surface.
Arguably, one of the best things about enamel cookware is the way it looks. Coming in virtually any color, it’s quite easy to fall in love with these beautiful pots and pans. This is all the more reason why we all want to avoid getting discoloration and stains on our enamel cookware.
The trick to having great-looking cookware is always to treat it with care, clean it regularly, and use appropriate methods. With enamel cookware, stains and discoloration are sometimes unavoidable, no matter what you do. There is no need to panic though, because when you know how cleaning enamel is easy.
Just follow our tips and success is guaranteed!