Maybe your enamel Dutch oven has a permanent place on your stovetop, or your only experience with enamelware comes from your grandma’s vintage camping cups. Either way, enamel cookware and enamel camping dishes are a beloved and time-trusted dining staple, whether you’re using them in your kitchen or for a weekend in the mountains.
What Is Enamelware?
Enamel dinnerware and enamel cookware are crafted with a solid core of metal, often steel, and then sealed with a heated glass exterior. This fusion creates an enamel plate, enamel bowl, or enamel mug that is sturdy, smooth, and beautiful.
But it’s not just for aesthetics: the glass-coated exterior contributes multiple benefits as well. For example, the coating protects the sturdy steel interior of enamel from acidic foods, such as vinegar or lemon juice. It also prevents the internal steel from rusting.
Conversely, the glass coating protects your food from any metallic tastes or potential chemicals leached from the steel, meaning enamelware is categorized as a safe and non-toxic cookware option.
Plus, the glass coating provides a naturally non-stick surface and is easily cleaned with water and gentle dish soap, making cleanup on the campsite (or in your kitchen) a breeze.
Camping Enamelware: The Perfect Travel Option
When you’re dining at home, the packability and heft of your dining materials may not matter much - but when you’re on the move and backpacking through the Black Hills, weight is everything. So how does enamelware compare to other durable, classic camping dishes?
Obviously, your lightest option is often paper or plastic, but they create an enormous amount of trash that wastes resources and dirties campsites. Additionally, plastic materials are far more porous than their sustainable alternatives, increasing the possibilities of bacteria growth, and hot foods will cause the plastic to leach chemicals such as ultra-toxic BPA. In other words, paper and plastic plates work in a pinch, but there are far more sustainable (and more attractive) options that won’t weigh you down.
Aside from enamelware, a popular on-the-go dining choice is stainless steel - but how does stainless steel compare to enamel camping dishes?
Like enamel, stainless steel is also easy to cook with and pack, though stainless steel heats less evenly than its enameled alternative. Stainless steel can also be heavier than enamelware dishes or enamelware mugs. Additionally, the surface only works as nonstick when preheated correctly, making quick-and-easy campsite cooking a little less achievable.
But enamelware is a wonderful choice if you’re staying close to home, too. Enamelware’s light heft and quick-and-easy cleanup make it an excellent choice for a park picnic or a backyard BBQ as well: enamel dishes fit easily into your basket or bag, and even the stickiest of BBQ sauces will come off in a breeze thanks to its no-fuss cleaning requirements. (Plus, we’d argue that our enamel dish sets are lovely enough to maintain the aesthetic of any park picnic.)
Caring For Your Enamelware
When cared for correctly, enamelware can last for generations - after all, there’s a reason you remember your Grandma’s vintage white enamel plates or blue-speckled enamel teapot. (Psst - have you seen our enamel with eggshell finish?) And really, there are only a few guidelines to keep in mind to preserve your enamelware for years to come.
Though some manufacturers claim that enamelware is dishwasher-safe, we highly recommend washing with hot water and a gentle natural soap to help maintain the shiny enamel exterior. Avoid using steel wool or other abrasive materials on enamelware as well.
Additionally, enamelware is not microwave-safe, as it contains a steel core. However, it is both freezer-safe and oven-safe (up to 500°F), allowing for versatile cooking and food storage.
Enamelware’s durability (and ease of carrying) allows it to be taken everywhere you go, packed lightly, and easily cleaned. Plus, its longevity means if cared for correctly, you’ll never have to buy more (unless, of course, you’re growing your collection). It’s non-toxic, excellent for the environment, and full of history that showcases its versatility - and its minimal-yet-eye-catching design means you can use it in the Great Outdoors or for tomorrow’s dinner party. Enamel is truly a timeless and elegant choice that isn’t afraid to go wherever you do.