How to Care for a Camping Dutch Oven

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Your camping Dutch oven will quickly become the most essential tool for any campout or campfire cooking experience. Capable of making anything from soups and stews to pizza and tacos, this versatile and durable cookpot is perfect for keeping your campfire cooking exciting and nutritious.

Camp Cooking In A Dutch Oven

Cast-iron has long been the king of campfire cooking. The ability to effectively retain heat and distribute it evenly throughout the pan makes it ideal for cooking on hot coals or fire, while the thick, durable metal can withstand any flame.

But while there are countless benefits of cast-iron when it comes to campfire cooking, cleaning and storage are often cited as reasons not to utilize this fantastic resource. 

Counter to popular belief, cast-iron is one of the easiest things to clean and care for. Once you know the basics, clearing up after cooking in your camping Dutch oven can be a breeze. 

Check out our top tips covering camping Dutch oven care, so you can enjoy countless campfires with all the peace and tranquillity your campout deserves.

Protective Coating

When you first purchase a new cast-iron Dutch oven, chances are the manufacturer will have incorporated some form of protective coating to prevent any rust from penetrating the cookpot on its way to your home.

While this isn’t a particular problem, if your Dutch oven does come with a protective coating, you will need to ensure this is removed before cooking.

You’ll find instructions on removing the protective coating in the manufacturer instructions that come with the cookpot. If you can’t find the instructions, a good scrub with dishwashing detergent (preferably a citrus-based detergent) should remove the coating without much hassle.

Camp Cooking In A Dutch Oven

Seasoning

The next thing to do with your Dutch oven is to ensure it’s properly seasoned.  More modern cast-iron camping Dutch ovens (like the ones from Uno Casa) may come pre-seasoned, in which case you can use them straight out the box! 

If your Dutch oven doesn’t come pre-seasoned, you’ll need to do this yourself to provide the cookpot with the fabulous non-stick properties that make it such a brilliant piece of cookware.

It’s easiest to season your Dutch oven in an oven, although it would be possible to do it over a campfire if required (this may be better if you don’t want too much smoke in your home)

You’ll need: 

  • Vegetable oil
  • Paper towels (or a clean rag)
  • Baking sheets

Method

  1. Start by ensuring your Dutch oven is completely dry and preheat your oven to 375’F.
  2. Use a paper towel to coat the Dutch oven and lid with generous amounts of vegetable oil, both inside and out, top and bottom.
  3. Place your Dutch oven and lid upside-down on your baking sheets and place them in the oven.
  4. Bake for around an hour. There may well be some smoke and odor, this is normal, and you can turn on your extractor if needed.
  5. After an hour, turn the oven off. Leave the Dutch oven inside while it cools (you can leave it overnight if preferable).
  6. Once cooled, add another generous coating of vegetable oil and bake for another hour, then cool.
  7. After the last cool, place your Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat and coat the interior with more oil before storing.

Once you’ve seasoned your Dutch oven once, chances are the job won’t need to be repeated again!

Cleaning

Thanks to the seasoning process, cast-iron Dutch ovens can take on non-stick properties that make cleaning a breeze.

Many experts recommend avoiding soap when cleaning your Dutch oven. Using soap should not damage your cookware. However, it’s usually unnecessary when cleaning this type of cookpot.

What you’ll need

  • A metal, plastic, or wooden utensil (a spoon is best)
  • A scrubby
  • Paper towels or a clean rag

Method

  1. Use your utensil to scrape any large pieces of burnt food from the inside of the pot.
  2. Pour warm water into the pot and use the scrubby to remove any remaining food particles.
  3. Rinse with clean water and repeat as required.
  4. Dry immediately and thoroughly with paper towels and a clean rag.
  5. Once clean and completely dry, add an extra layer of vegetable oil before storing.

Sometimes you’ll find particularly stubborn food particles won’t budge during regular cleaning. When this happens, boil some salt and water in the Dutch oven and use a metal utensil to scrape off the stubborn bits.

Camp Cooking In A Dutch Oven

Storage 

Storing your Dutch oven correctly ensures you don’t need to repeat the seasoning process.  Even if your Dutch oven shows signs of rust, it’s still usable and simply needs to be cleaned out properly and re-seasoned. 

Ensure your Dutch oven is completely dry before storing and leave the lid slightly ajar to allow airflow. It’s that simple!

Easy

As you’ve seen, caring for a camping Dutch oven is easy. All it takes is some vegetable oil and make sure to ensure the cookpot is completely dry before storing, and you’ll have a piece of cookware that can last a lifetime

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