Why Choose an Enameled Cast Iron Pan?
Vermicular wouldn’t be where we are today without the use of enamel, a non-toxic, non-porous material with which we coat our entire range of cast iron cookware. Vitreous (from the Latin, “glasslike”) enamel is produced by fusing glass particles and water to a metal surface, like cast iron, at extreme temperatures. The melted glass binds to the iron, creating a durable and smooth finish.
Our proprietary, hydrophilic enamel coating is what sets Vermicular cast iron pans apart from other traditional cast iron pans. We can say with confidence that enamel is, without a doubt, the material of choice for high-performance frying pans and skillets.
A Time-Honored Craft
Enameling has a long and colorful legacy in human history, weaving in and out of epochs, spanning continents and their peoples. Discovered to have been first used some thousands of years ago, enamel was initially used to create beautiful works of art and precious jewelry—decorative pieces that were for pure aesthetic pleasure rather than functionality.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that manufacturers finally began to enamel objects for practical use, coating appliances, like stoves and bathtubs, and eventually household cookware.
Vermicular and Enamel
Vermicular was born, in part, out of an appreciation for enameled cast iron cookware and the superior quality, depth of flavor, and improvement in the taste of meals cooked in them. Enamel has played a critical role in our ongoing pursuit of design excellence and cast iron innovation.
Vermicular’s enamel coating process is labor-intensive. From an onlooker’s viewpoint, the application of enamel by spray nozzle can seem so smooth and effortless as to surely be an easy task. Not so—achieving an even coating across the entire convex surface of a cast iron pan requires great skill and nimble handiwork. In fact, at the time of writing, there are only four companies in the world that can achieve such a high level of uniformity, and Vermicular is one of them.
Even if one had a perfectly steady hand for spraying, there are additional complicating factors to consider: subtle changes in temperature and levels of humidity. Our craftspeople require exceptional hand-eye coordination: while one hand rotates the pan, constantly adjusting for speed, the other hand sprays a fine mist of the glass glaze, controlling distance and width of spray with micromovements. The glaze dries quickly if too thinly sprayed, and if sprayed over once dry, the glass particles can rise to the surface, resulting in the formation of bubbles when baked.
Once sprayed, dried, and quality-checked, at which point the glaze has the hardness of white chalk, our cookware is baked at 1500ºF. To keep a pan as thin as 1.5 mm from warping at such temperatures is incredibly challenging, requiring total focus and advanced technical skill. The entire process—spraying, drying, baking—is then repeated. Our cast iron pans receive a special, proprietary enamel coating for improved durability and strength.
So Why Coat a Pan in Enamel?
A pan is an essential, everyday cooking tool, and likely the kitchen item we give the most attention to on a daily basis—sometimes twice or more on a given day. The ideal cast iron pan should both be convenient to use and improve the quality of the food you cook. The answer to achieving both lies in an enamel-coated, cast iron pan.
Quality of Food
Enamel Thermal Technology
When searing or stir-frying, the process of removing moisture—as quickly as possible, so as to prevent sogginess—is critical. Our proprietary enamel is highly hydrophilic, meaning it has a great affinity for water. Coating our thermally-efficient cast iron pans with this enamel results in a surface capable of instant evaporation. Vermicular pans eliminate surface moisture 30 times faster than traditional cast iron pans—browning and caramelizing outer layers of ingredients to concentrate and deepen flavor profiles like no other pan. Excess moisture from ingredients evaporates immediately, so you can intensify umami and achieve the perfect crispiness.
With thermal conductivity about twice that of iron alone, the enamel quickly and evenly distributes heat throughout the pan. It also helps generate strong, far-infrared rays that penetrate and heat ingredients to their cores, while keeping textures intact. The outcome is supremely crunchy vegetables in their prime, crisp and fluffy fried eggs, and juicy, tender meats seared to perfection.
Flavors are Locked In
Our pans ensure that even the most delicate flavors and aromas from your ingredients and spices are sealed in for you to fully enjoy, and not lost inside a porous, absorbent surface.
Non-Reactive to Acidity
The enamel coating prevents any leaching of metal, allowing you to safely cook acidic foods, avoid the unpleasant metallic tastes you might experience with other cast iron pans, and trust that flavors stay true to their original form. You can stew tomato sauces, deglaze with vinegars, and squeeze in citrus juices to your heart’s content.
Easy to Clean and Care For
An enamel coating protects a cast iron pan with a hygienic, non-porous, and non-absorbent layer, forgoing any need for seasoning and making cleaning effortless. Vermicular pans can be rinsed with mild dish soap immediately after cooking, without waiting for them to cool—no special, laborious cleaning procedure required.
No Residual Odors
Enamel prevents absorption of food particles, eliminating concern for lingering smells or flavors from previously cooked meals. Seamlessly go from baked salmon to banana pancakes, for example, without a special cleaning procedure, since the surface won’t take on a fishy flavor.
Dependable and Durable
Vermicular’s enamel coating makes our cast iron pans rust- and scratch-resistant. When properly cared for, our pans can be enjoyed for a long time.
Debunking Common Myths About Enamel
Enamel is fragile: False.
With proper use, enameled cast iron pans enjoy great longevity and durability.
Though enamel-coated pans might not withstand a beating like traditional cast iron skillets, they are durable enough to last a long time when properly cared for. And because of their resilience against thermal shock from rapid changes in heat, enameled cast iron pans are capable of handling higher temperatures than non-ceramic pans.
Enamel is toxic: False.
It is completely safe to use daily and will not produce toxins.
To make enamel, glass particles undergo fusion with water, binding to surfaces under extremely high heat—a temperature reaching approximately 1500ºF. As such, the particles will not dislodge or leach out into food during cooking or storage, and using high heat will not produce toxic fumes.
We place the utmost importance on using clean materials in our cookware: all Vermicular products are entirely free of PTFE, PFAS, PFOA, which are potentially carcinogenic chemicals often found in non-stick coatings, as well as lead and cadmium—and that certainly includes all of our pans.
Enamel makes food stick: False.
If the pan is properly preheated, food should not stick to it.
If our enameled cast iron pans are preheated adequately before the addition of ingredients, food should cook as expected and the pan should be easy to clean. We recommend following the below instructions step-by-step.
Basic preheating steps:
- Preheat over medium-high heat for about 90 seconds.
- Add oil and swirl to coat evenly.
- Allow smoke to rise from the pan's entire surface. (Adequate preheating is achieved only after smoke has risen from the entire surface. It is important not to rush this step.)
- Adjust heat level and start cooking.
Some ingredients, like eggs or flour, tend to stick more than others. If you find that your ingredients are still sticking, an additional heat-off step will further equalize heat across the pan's surface, crucial when cooking with stickier ingredients.
Additional preheating steps:
- Follow steps 1–3 from above.
- Turn off the heat and let the smoke clear, about 10–15 seconds.
- Once the smoke clears, add ingredients while the heat is still off. Wait for 10–30 seconds.
- Turn the heat back on and cook over low or very low heat.
Experience the Difference with an Enameled Cast Iron Pan
If you haven’t already, we invite you to give our enameled cast iron pans a try: see the difference in performance, experience the ease-of-use, taste each ingredient’s authentic flavor, and bring joy to your loved ones with a delicious, Vermicular-cooked meal.