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Dutch Oven - How to Choose and Care

Dutch Oven - How to Choose and Care


Dutch ovens are very popular for both home use and outdoor cooking. A Dutch oven is made of cast iron. Because they are so heavy, they heat evenly with little heat. The heavy lid, when it is set on properly, acts as a pressure cooker.

What Size Dutch Oven Should I Buy

Dutch ovens come in a range of sizes from the small 8" to the large 16".
Sizes 12" or 14" are good for almost everything you'll want to cook, even if for two or three people.

If you are only going to buy one Dutch oven, we would suggest a 14" size. Certainly, you should not choose one smaller than a 12". You can always put smaller amounts of food in a larger pan, but if you are cooking for a group, it's hard to make a small oven stretch to accommodate all you want to cook.

  • 8" (2 qts) - vegetables, baked beans
  • 10" (4 qts) baked bread; baked beans; rolls; small cobbler
  • 12" (6 qts) main dishes to serve 12-14 people; cobbler
  • 14" (8 qts) main dishes to serve 16-20 people; cobbler

How to Season Cast Iron Dutch Ovens

How to care for your ovens so you will get many years of good use?

After acquiring your Dutch oven you should "season" it to prepare it for use. The manufacturers of Dutch ovens put a protective coating on the inside of the kettles. This must be removed before cooking in them.

Place the Dutch oven over heat until it becomes quite warm. Then wipe the bottom and sides briskly with paper towels until the towels come out clean. After this protective coating is removed, pour a small quantity of vegetable oil in the pan.

Wipe the sides and bottom again with paper towels, spreading the oil completely over the whole surface. Don't leave much oil in the pan, just a light surface covering. If you leave too much oil, it has a tendency to become rancid.

Coat the top side of the lid and the outside of the oven with oil, too. Just use the oily paper towels you wiped the inside with. This helps keep your lid and oven looking better, and helps it to resist rust. Now your Dutch oven is ready to use.

If you haven't used your Dutch oven in a very long time, or if the oil in it has gone rancid, or if it has lost its season through lack of care, then start all over again just as if it were a new one. Heat it, wipe it out, and then re-oil it. Wipe it out again leaving only a light covering.

How to Clean Cast Iron Dutch Ovens

Heat is an important factor in cleaning the ovens. Place your oven over heat and scrape all the food from the Dutch oven with a spatula or a putty knife until the sides and bottom are as clean as possible.

With a paper towel or a burlap bag and spatula lift out the loose particles. Continue to scrape and wipe until it is as clean as you can get it.

Pour in a little vegetable oil, wipe out the excess, and be sure to coat the sides and bottom. Wipe off any moisture that has accumulated on the lid, and wipe it with oil also.

A good item to have for cleaning your oven is a burlap bag. This is faster than paper towels, as it won't tear as the towels do. When the burlap bag gets too dirty, you can wash it and have a clean bag to use.

If your Dutch oven becomes rusty, all is not lost. In most cases, it can be saved and used again. Wipe off all the rust you can, then warm your oven up and start cleaning it with oil. Rub it especially well where it is rusty. It may take a little time, but if you can use your oven again, it's worth it.

If your oven has been put away dirty and left for a long period of time, the insides may have become pitted. An oven in this condition can be saved, too. Scour it with a soap pad, rinse out the soap, heat until the moisture is completely out, then oil it as described before.

Washing a Dutch Oven

We don't recommend washing a Dutch oven, but if it gets to the point where you feel the only way it will come clean is by washing, then go ahead. Just remember— don't put ice-cold water in a hot Dutch oven, or pour hot water in a very cold one— it can cause it to break.

After the oven has been washed, heat it thoroughly for several minutes to remove all the moisture. Then the oven must be re-seasoned with oil.

Keep in mind, if you take good care of your Dutch ovens, they will take you care of you for many good times and good meals.