I’m always looking for simpler ways to accomplish everyday tasks. When juggling a business with side projects, home projects, family, and an endless task list, even saving 5 minutes here and there adds up. That’s why I’m so happy that my hunch about cleaning pans worked!
Our enameled cast iron Le Creuset pans really take a beating. We always have something simmering on the stove, and we often throw the heavy pans on the grill to roast veggies. I love using them because they are wedding gifts that have endured. When they’re working away at cooking something comforting and warm, they remind me of just what it takes to stay madly in love a decade into marriage. Like a good French enameled pan, we went into our marriage ready to work, endure, and comfort. Sometimes, just looking at one of those pans makes me swoon.
Recently, we got to talking on the patio while roasting peppers and onions in our favorite red skillet on the grill. We talked and talked, finding so many new things to discuss you’d think it was our first date. We forgot all about the pan industriously roasting veggies, and, while the peppers and onions had a deep, flavorful char, the pan was a blackened mess.
I set the pan aside with some water and a bit of baking soda, fully prepared for a heavy elbow grease session in the morning. As I rolled up my sleeves and considered the thick layer of ick on my pan, I thought, “Why not just cook the junk off in the self-cleaning oven?” About a month ago, I left a cookie sheet in the oven while it was on the clean cycle, and the once sticky, brownish pan came out looking brand new.
When I googled cleaning Le Creuset in the self cleaning oven, most advice was to treat the pans gently, using the special cleaners you can buy from the company or barkeepers friend. Nobody specifically said yay or nay to the self cleaning oven idea, so I decided to give it a go. After all, even if the finish bubbled a little or chipped, I would still love my hardworking red pan. From forgotten nights on the grill to botched candy making experiments, my trusty pan was always there, ready for a new adventure.
I try not to do the self cleaning oven thing too often because it does take a lot of energy. Still, compared to the cleaning supplies and water it would take to scrub the pan clean (plus, my oven needed cleaning anyway), I thought it would be the greener choice. Besides, it would save so much time! All I had to do was pop the pan in the oven and wait for the grime to cook away to ash.
That’s exactly what happened, too! I just put the pan in the oven, set the cycle to self clean, and spent a couple of hours out in the garden weeding and harvesting. When I came back inside, the bits of forgotten, crusty pepper had simply crumbled away. The yellowish tint, the baked on bits…all of it had burned away leaving a pan as shiny as it was 10 years ago.
I wouldn’t suggest throwing your enamelware into the blazing hot oven regularly, but it was an effortless way to get rid of those years of built up wear. I didn’t “clean” the lid, but, if you do, please remove the plastic handle. Also, I’m sure this could eventually damage the enamel finish, so use a bit of discretion. I love my pan no matter how grimy it gets, but there was something so satisfying about remembering that under the scars of wear and use, it’s still the same shiny red pan.
I rinsed it out and put it back on the shelf, ready to devotedly work at filling our lives with comfort for many years to come.