_DO: Dutch Oven Care

Serves: 5



I can’t think of a single item in my camp gear with more potential for longevity than an iron Dutch. No matter what it is, anything will last if properly cared for. Consisting of only two parts it requires just a little care to last a lifetime.

Of the two, aluminum Dutches are the easiest to care for. They don’t require seasoning as do iron Dutches. I use hot soapy water and a kitchen scrubber to clean my aluminum Dutches. If the aftermath of dinner turns out to be a cheesy imitation of the LaBrea Tar Pits, just attack with steel wool or any kitchen scrubber. After washing, make sure they are dry and place a paper towel inside before replacing the lid.

Iron Dutches require more care. On a new Dutch just follow the manufacturers directions. Used and or abused Dutches may require a little more work. The worst case of an abused Dutch in my experience occurred on the Middle Fork of Salmon River.

While checking big game camp sites one summer I found a 14” Dutch covered with ashes and dirt in a fire pit last used the preceding November. Both my old black lab “Snoose” and I gagged when I took the lid off. The dinner left over winter in the old Dutch went far beyond a junior high

science project. I turned the old Dutch on it’s side to allow the contents to ooze out. After collecting old tent poles, jury rigged corral poles and a pile of plastic baling twine, I started a bon fire. Once it got going real good, I set the oven and lid in the fire with a green pole. When I raked enough coals off to the side to broil a steak the old Dutch glowed cherry red. The next morning I took the Dutch and stuffed it up under an old blow-down yellow pine, upside down where it wouldn’t collect water. That fall while on patrol through the same area I retrieved the old Dutch and packed it down to one of my patrol cabins.

I completed rehabilitating the old Dutch the following spring when Terry Williams and I flew in to open the cabin and start the irrigation system. Rust covered the Dutch inside and out when I pulled it from the rafters. After dinner I set both the lid and the Dutch in the coals of our dinner fire. Once it warmed up I poured a small amount of vegetable oil on both and wiped it around with a paper towel. When they began to smoke I pulled both from the fire and allowed them to cool. I repeated the process three or four times a night for a couple of days. By day three we were frying eggs without them sticking. Fourteen years later the eggs still don’t stick!

Once an iron Dutch gets well seasoned, cleanup becomes a breeze. If no food residue remains I wipe them out with a damp dish rag and dry with a paper towel. Be sure to treat the lid just as you do the oven as condensation forms on the lid and causes rust. When both are dry, pour about a teaspoon of vegetable oil into the Dutch and wipe both it and the lid with a paper towel to leave a thin film of oil. Don’t over do it with the oil because an excess of oil will turn rancid and become varnish like.

Store your Dutches with the lids on in a cool dry place where they won’t be exposed to excessive moisture or humidity. Prior to storing for extended periods I always fold a paper towel in thirds and put it in the Dutch to absorb any moisture or condensation which may occur.

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

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

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