The Dutch Oven is one of the workhorses of camping cooking. It can be used to serve big or small groups and lends itself perfectly to one pot meals. Best of all, with proper dutch oven care, this versatile cooking vessel will last you for years and years to come.
Before Camping Dutch Oven Care
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Picking out a dutch oven to call your own should be first and foremost. One of the best materials for an outdoor use dutch oven is cast iron. It heats to high temperatures safely and can be seasoned over time to develop a consistent nonstick surface. Also, cast iron is a good value for the money.
A popular size for dutch ovens is 8 quart/12 inch. Eight inch or smaller may suit you just fine if you never camp with more than a few people. The advantage of the larger size is that it allows you to easily expand recipe portions.
Also, dutch ovens with 3 legs and a handle are helpful for transport and cooking. Our family owns a Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven – 12 Inch / 8 Quart that has worked well for many backyard gatherings and Scout campouts.
If purchasing a new dutch oven, you may need to burn off the protective coating that was placed on it in the factory to protect the pan during transport and storage. Check out your individual manufacturer instructions and use a grill or other outdoor heat source whenever possible due to smoke/fumes this will cause. Don’t forget to season again as the last step in the process.
For used dutch oven purchases, clean the dutch oven up well and add a new layer of seasoning (such as vegetable oil) before use.
Some accessories to keep alongside your dutch oven are:
(Dutch Oven lids are heavy and get super hot when cooking.)
(Dutch oven temperatures can climb higher than standard ovens.)
Doing some simple things when using your dutch oven in the campsite will help make meal preparation and cleanup easier.
- First, learn about the heat that will need to generated to make sure that your food is cooked properly. For charcoal briquette cooking with your dutch oven, check out this Coal Temperature Conversion Chart in Scouting magazine. The chart shows how many briquettes will need to be placed below and on the lid of the oven to get to desired temperature . *A shovel will come in handy for placing hot briquettes on top and below dutch oven.
- Make sure that the dutch oven is clean before you begin. Refer down to the cleaning section below if needed before you start food prep.
- Line the inside of your dutch oven with heavy duty aluminum foil before cooking things such as cobblers, bread, pizza, etc… This makes for much easier cleanup of recipes other than soups and stews.
- When you are done dishing out your eats and the dutch oven has cooled, scrape out any remnants. For stubborn stains and crumbs, use some kosher salt and a a small amount of vegetable oil. Rinse out the dutch oven when finished (Do not use soap) and dry off thoroughly.
After Camping Dutch Oven Care
Place your clean dutch oven in a non-humid location for storage. A dry garage or storage cabinet offers the ideal place. Put several paper or other thin towels between the lid and rest of oven to allow for air circulation.
Moisture leads to rust as you can see from the photo below of our own dutch oven. When your dutch oven gets to this point, it requires lots of scrubbing with a brush and steel wool to remove the rust. Then the dutch oven will have to be rinsed thoroughly and re-seasoned.
Avoid this headache and store your dutch oven properly in the first place.
With proper dutch oven care, it will last you for many a camping trip. Enjoy and check out the following tips for getting the most out of your camping adventures.