_DO: Cast Iron vs Aluminum

Serves: 5



The original Dutch ovens were traditionally cast iron with cast aluminum Dutches having been around for the last 30 to 35 years.

Those of us old enough to have ways to be set in prefer the traditional cast iron Dutches for the most part.* However, aluminum Dutches, because of their lighter weight, occupy a niche in my camp kitchen. My 12-inch cast iron Dutches weigh between 18 and 19 1/2 pounds apiece. A 12-inch aluminum Dutch on the other had only weighs around seven pounds, almost two thirds less than the iron Dutch.

Besides being much lighter, the aluminum has a couple other advantages. First, they are easier to care for because they don't have to be "seasoned" or "cured". Because they don't require seasoning, one can use soap and/or abrasive to clean with if the aftermath of dinner turns out to be a world class sticky pot.

The primary drawback to aluminum Dutches I see is this-

in cool or cold weather, foods baked in aluminum Dutches do not brown near as well as the same baked goods done in an iron Dutch. The aluminum Dutch, being two thirds lighter, doesn't retain heat long enough for things to brown. The cooler air conducts heat away from the aluminum too fast. For most applications, however, they are fine.

I recommend using aluminum Dutches whenever weight is a concern. For horse packing, I use a 10" aluminum Dutch without legs which nests inside a regular 12" aluminum Dutch. Together they weigh about 11-12 lbs. Plenty of pot capacity for four hunters packed back into an elk camp. When I put a kitchen on my cataraft I also go aluminum. The group I raft with, at times will provide 24 hungry mouths to feed. A ball park figure is one 12" aluminum Dutch per six mouths when planning main dish meals.

* See Table of Dutches for comparative weights of my Dutch collection.

A Back Country Guide to Outdoor Cooking Spiced with Tall Tales - Camp Cooking with Dutch Ovens

This _DO: Cast Iron vs Aluminum recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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