Every successful recipe needs three things: the right method, the freshest ingredients, and the most efficient equipment. Cooking food doesn’t just refer to turning on the stove, it also entails other tasks like caring for the equipment you use. One of the essential items on my list is to care for my dutch oven, that’s because unlike any other pot or pan that I use, a dutch oven is by far one of the most versatile and durable. And to make it last longer, I make sure that I season mine. So, the question now is, how do you season a dutch oven? Let’s find out.
What is a Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven is a massive metal pot (usually made from cast iron) that serves as a cooking pot. It is made thicker to accommodate various ways of heating and cooking food. The dutch oven is rather heavy, and it is made to endure a lot of use and abuse (in-depth reviews in here). The only downside, perhaps is that it is prone to rust and corrosion because it is made from pure metal pot. There are two types of surfaces for dutch ovens: a bare oven and an enameled oven.
- The bare oven doesn’t have any coating on it. The pot is typically rough and coarse with a much darker hue.
- The enameled surface is shiny and smooth and a lighter color. Oftentimes, manufacturers of Dutch ovens would incorporate the use of porcelain as a surface material.
How to Use a Dutch Oven
Though it’s called a Dutch oven, the primary function of this pot isn’t to serve as an oven per se; it is intended to be an all-around cooking pot, especially for cooking on hot coal. There are various ways to use a Dutch oven, consider the following:
- Oven in the Oven. Though it can function as a simple oven, you can still use the dutch oven as a baking container and put it inside an oven.
- Over the Stove. The dutch stove is ideal in cooking rice in the absence of a rice cooker. It’s also good for cooking stew on your typical gas stove.
- Over Fire. Whether you are cooking over firewood or burning charcoal, this is a great way to cook meals outdoors. The heavy set metal allows you to cook food without worrying about the pot warping due to intense heat.
- In the Bean Hole. Though it is not so common to cook using a bean hole, one of the best pots to use in cooking in one is the dutch oven. A bean hole is created when you dig a hole in the ground line the hole with bricks or a drum and put in wood or charcoal as burning material.
How to Season a Dutch Oven for the First Time
You will never be able to cook a delicious meal on an unseasoned Dutch oven. Seasoned Dutch ovens are much easier to clean after cooking, and they are also less likely to rust. There are two instances where you should season your oven:
Season a Brand New Dutch Oven
Do this the moment you get your bare Dutch oven. Your brand new bare Dutch oven is not as bare as you’d initially think it is, it has a layer of chemical that needs to be removed. In seasoning your Dutch oven for the first time, you are actually removing a thin layer of chemical coating added by the manufacturer to prevent the pot from rusting while in storage.
Most manufacturers don’t reveal what the chemical coating is made out of and it is best and highly recommended that you remove it and season the pot yourself. I’ve provided steps on how you should do it.
Notes before you start:
If you have a large grilling station where your dutch oven fits when covered, you can use it to season your Dutch oven. If not, you can use your oven.
You can also use other methods to season your dutch oven like putting it in a bean hole. If you’re going to use a bean hole, make sure that you get a drum to put your Dutch oven in. If you season it over direct heat, you will only end up seasoning the interior of the grill.
You should also disable your smoke alarm if you’re going to do it indoors. It’s going to be very very smoky.
- Preheat your grill or oven to 400⁰F.
- While heating your grill, wash your Dutch oven with warm soapy water. Use a scouring pad ( for aluminum Dutch ovens) or a ball of steel wool (if you have an iron cast Dutch oven) and scrub both interior and exterior of your pot as well as the lid. Rinse it very well.
- Dry with a paper towel. You can also dry it by putting it in the oven or over the grill for a minute or two to make the water evaporate faster.
- Once dry, take it out of the grill or oven and rub the entire surface of the Dutch oven and its lid with oil.
- Damp-off the excess oil with a paper towel.
- Put your Dutch oven on the grill or in the oven upside down. Don’t forget to put the lid there too.
- Bake the Dutch oven for 45 to 60 minutes at 350⁰F to 400⁰F. The oven or grill will start to smoke after 20 minutes in the oven or grill, at this rate, simply open your windows for better ventilation.
- Turn off your grill or oven. Don’t take your Dutch oven out yet, leave it to cool for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Once it is cool enough to touch, take it out of the oven and check if it is shiny enough or smooth enough to your taste.
- If you need to season it some more, you can repeat the steps until you reach your desired amount of sheen.
Seasoning Maintenance of your Dutch Oven
Unlike most frying pans that need frequent seasoning when the seasoning strips off, iron cast Dutch ovens don’t require as much reseasoning. Once seasoned properly, it is harder to remove the seasoning. Remember these:
- When you cook oily foods, you are improving the seasoning of your pot.
- If you use acidic food like citrus, tomatoes and the like, you are stripping off a layer of your seasoning. Some tomato-based stews can strip (but not entirely) the seasoning of your Dutch oven.
Here’s how you re-season your Dutch oven:
Clean your Dutch oven:
- Loosen food particles by soaking the dutch oven in water.
- Scrub the food particles using a scouring pad and gently scrub the pot.
- If you have tough particles stuck at the bottom of your pot, heat the water until the food loosens up and use a sponge to rub the particles off.
- Completely dry your Dutch oven with a paper towel and check the condition of your Dutch oven whether or not it still has seasoning left.
Re-season your Dutch Oven:
We suggest that you use your grill. You can use an open or closed grill.
- Get the heat going on your grill.
- Get a baking sheet large enough to hold your Dutch oven.
- Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Rub a small amount of oil throughout the entire Dutch oven and its lid (if you are also going to re-season the cover.
- With a paper towel, damp-off any excess oil. Flip your Dutch oven and put it on the baking sheet.
- Put it over your grill and wait for it to heat for about 45 minutes.
- After a maximum of 50 minutes, take off the Dutch oven and let it cool.
- You can repeat the steps if you want a more seasoned Dutch oven. The darker the color or the hue of the Dutch oven, the better.
My Final Say
The more I use my Dutch oven, the lesser instances I need to re-season it. If you don’t often use your Dutch oven, the seasoning will also lose its luster especially if you leave your Dutch oven in-store for over a year. When the seasoning gets stripped off, it is already easy for you to figure out how to season a Dutch oven if you keep following the steps I’ve mentioned above. Seasoning your Dutch oven is a great way of maintaining the quality and performance of your oven. In fact, it can even improve its overall function and performance. To end on a final note, remember that a great seasoning will reflect on how it will look. The darker and brighter your Dutch oven seems, the longer the seasoning will hold.