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Volume II
May 26, 2005

Tips From an Eternal Boy Scout
by Amy Hunt

  • Cast iron ovens must be kept away from water. After each use make sure that the oven gets completely dry and leave a sheet of paper towel inside to soak up any additional moisture! Leaving water in or on your oven is guaranteed rust. Store your oven in a cool dry place.
  • NO SOAP! Cast iron ovens will absorb flavors. This is great for food, but not so great when it tastes like soap. Soap will also eat away the protective coating that is built onto the oven.
  • Take it easy. Let your Dutch oven heat up slowly and cool down slowly. If you try to rush you will more than likely crack or warp your oven.
  • Don’t be afraid to lift the lid halfway through the cooking. Take a peak, and stir. Make sure that there is enough liquid in your food, you don’t want things to dry out and burn. Add a little hot water when needed.
  • You can stack your Dutch ovens to share heat and save space.
  • Basic Tools: Keep a thick pair of work gloves close by. They will be invaluable around a hot fire. For moving the briquettes, invest in long handled metal tongs. And keep some sort of lid lifter handy. A pair of pliers will work fine, or an actual lid lifter will provide more stability.
  • Charcoal briquettes will burn longer and more evenly than coals from a fire. Use the best briquettes you can afford. There is a difference in quality, and the more expensive brands are generally worth the additional cost.

  • Regulate the heat! This is the hardest thing when it comes to cooking in a Dutch oven. Briquettes can generate a surprising amount of heat for their small size. Some Dutch oven recipes will include the number of briquettes needed for the top and bottom of the oven. As a general rule of thumb: take the Dutch oven size, for example a 12 inch, add three more briquettes to the top for 15, and subtract three from the bottom for 9. Adjust as necessary for local conditions.

* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

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