First, read the guidelines that are included your new Dutch Oven. Some Dutch Ovens come pre-seasoned and don’t need you to do it. If your new oven is like this, follow the instructions that came with it to make it ready for use. If you do need to season your new oven or re-season an old oven, start by cleaning the oven. Your new oven will have a protective layer to prevent the Dutch Oven from rusting while in transport. Old ovens with rust patches will need to have the corrosion removed with steel wool. Then, wash with warm water and steel wool. Rinse well. Hand dry the oven as soon as you are done. Water is your oven’s enemy.
While you’re cleaning the oven, pre-heat your kitchen oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Now that the Dutch Oven is thoroughly clean, position it in the your kitchen’s oven for a few minutes, upside down with the cover on a different shelf. This allows any fluids drain out of the oven. Heat the Dutch Oven until it is nearly too warm to feel with your hand. This warm up makes certain all the liquid is removed from the Dutch Oven and opens the tiny holes of the metal for the next phase.
With your warm Dutch Oven, put on a layer of oil. Use salt free oil like olive oil or vegetable oil. Coat the complete oven with oil. Then, place it once again in the kitchen oven to warm up for an 60 minutes. You can leave the Dutch Oven upright, but leave the top ajar so air can flow. Remove the Dutch Oven and let cool slowly. As soon as it is only warm, place another coat of oil on the Dutch Oven and put it back in the kitchen stove for 1 hour at 350. Take out the oven and let it cool off for a second time and then put on your third coat of oil. Now, you have 2 layers of oil cooked in and one final coating put on while warm. Your Dutch Oven is ready to cook with or store until your campout.
The surface of your oven is non-stick and as you use your Dutch Oven, the covering will improve. You will not have to do this long preparing procedure again except if the Dutch Oven gets rust on it.
Dutch Oven baking is achieved with coals. So, the first step is to establish an area for placing the Dutch Oven. You can use a fire pit, but I choose working with a metallic oil drip pan on the ground. The good metallic models are hard to find now, but look at your auto parts store. Most car parts shops have oil drip pans, but they are plastic. However, I have found a metal catch pan that is very shallow – almost like a huge cookie sheet. Pet cage trays or garbage can covers will work also. The pan needs to be much larger than your Dutch Oven and have some space to keep extra coals. We want to use a tray to defend the ground and make cleaning easy. Don’t forget Leave No Trace!
Set your pan in a good spot – away from foot traffic or where the children are playing and get your Charcoal Chimney. This is a metal tube for starting charcoal and is the best way to start your coals. Personally, I do not like the smell of quick -lighting charcoal and I think the fuel smell gets into the meal. Once the coals are ready, dump them in your pan, but to the side. Leave space for your Dutch Oven.
I’m not going to go over food prep here, but now is time to put your meal in the oven. ALWAYS put your food in the oven just before you start cooking. Never put food in a heated oven. The cold food might lead to your oven to break. Think about lining the oven with foil for quick cleanup later.
Dutch ovens require warmth from above and below for baking. The method for the amount of briquettes is the size of your oven plus 3 on top and minus 3 on bottom. So, for a 14 inch oven put 17 briquettes on top, 11 on the bottom. This will supply 325 degrees fahrenheit of heat. Because a single briquette supplies 10 to 15 degrees fahrenheit of warmth, put one on top and one on bottom for 350 degrees. Turn your oven a quarter turn every 15 minutes and the lid a quarter turn the other direction at the same instance. This avoids hot spots in the oven. Gloves and a lid hook are good gear for spinning. A small shovel can help move the coals.
Clean up is easy, but you still will want to take good care. Plain hot water and a nylon brush is the ideal way to clean your oven. Don’t use detergent; it may leave a bad taste in your oven. Allow the oven cool down some, but not down to cold. For problem stuck on food, use boiling water and a plastic or wood scrape – not metal. Towel dry your Dutch Oven, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES let it just air-dry. When dry, but still warm, rub some oil on your stove. Then stow with a paper towel in between oven and the lid to allow air flow.
CampingJoe is the author of camping cooking equipment and is an experienced Boy Scout leader with over 10 years of camping. Find out what camping equipment you need for cooking in the wilds at his blog. http: //ecampingcookingequipment. com/tag/dutch-oven.
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