Going Dutch: The Art Of Cooking In A Dutch Oven

By on March 11, 2013
dutch oven

Part of being a Prepper is having alternative means of doing things. As far as cooking goes, Dutch Oven cooking can be your alternative means for making food for your family should there be no normal means to do so. A Dutch Oven can cook almost anything you can cook in your kitchen oven, but I think it does even better! Here is a little history first before we dive into other topics…

Dutch Ovens originated in Holland as Iron Pots cast in a dry sand mold. In the early 1700s an Englishman named Abraham Darby traveled to Holland to inspect the manufacturing process. He returned to England and improved the process with better molds and sold many Dutch Ovens to the American Colonies. It has also been suggested that Dutch traders or settlers had named them as well.

These days, the name “Dutch Oven” can be seen about everywhere on varying types of cookware. Traditionally though, a Dutch Oven is made of cast iron and sits on three legs to keep it above the coals. The lid has a rim on it to keep hot coals in place and it has a steel handle to remove it from the heat. Many modern manufacturers produce Dutch Ovens, Lodge being one of the most prominent ones. Cooking pots similar to today’s Dutch Ovens have been in use since around the 7th century. Dutch Ovens last so long they were even willed to children and grandchildren from parents and grandparents. American pioneers and explorers carried Dutch Ovens with them as settlement moved west on the North American Continent. Lewis and Clark, Mountain Men, and Cowboys on the cattle drive all used Dutch Ovens. The Dutch Oven has been continually refined into what it is today. All parts of it were tinkered with until as Goldilocks would say “this one is just right…”

You can purchase a nice model for less than $60.00. We got ours for about that at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago. It’s a Lodge brand in size 12. The number on the top of the Dutch Oven lid indicates its diameter. A 12 inch pot is large enough for most meals you cook in a Dutch Oven and recipes can be easily adapted depending on what size your pot is. The popularity of the Dutch Oven was due to its versatility and that still holds true today. You can boil, bake, stew, fry, roast, etc in a Dutch Oven and then some.

In addition to purchasing a Dutch Oven you may want accessories such as lid lifter, heavy-duty tongs, gloves, and a lid holder. None of those are essential, but make life easier. Lastly, a charcoal chimney makes getting your charcoal started much faster. It’s advisable to cook in an enclosed fire ring or similar structure to minimize the chance of the fire getting away from you.

Start by getting your coals nice and hot using your charcoal chimney and get your Dutch Oven in place. Once they are good and hot, place your ingredients inside and close the lid. You want to place the appropriate number of coals on the top and bottom of the Dutch Oven to get it to the right temperature. Here’s a handy chart you can print out and take with you to the campsite or wherever you are cooking to get your size oven to the right temperature.

Once you have cooked your meal in your Dutch Oven you will want to clean and season it for it to last a long time! The easiest way to do this is to remove all your food scraps, wash the Dutch Oven in hot water, and then apply cooking oil over its entire inside surface. Heat the Dutch Oven so that the oil is absorbed providing a protective layer. If rust appears remove it quickly using an abrasive such as steel wool or a scrub brush to prolong its life. Wash, rinse, and then season as normal.

All in all Dutch Oven Cooking is an easy way to cook just about anything for yourself , family, or friends totally off the grid! You don’t need anything fancy to get started nor a lot of money. My love affair with Dutch Ovens and Dutch Oven cooking began in Boy Scouts and hasn’t stopped yet! Join the club! Speaking of clubs there is probably a Dutch Oven club near you. Here in Texas we have the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society with chapters all over the state. Many of these organizations do demos so you can see and taste what you are getting into before trying it on your own.

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About Craig

Craig is an Eagle Scout and attributes Boy Scouting to his love of the Great Outdoors and as the motto says "Being Prepared." Craig has over a decade of experience as an Outdoor Educator and Park Naturalist/Ranger. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Forest Recreation Management and an Associates in Criminal Justice and is a certified Texas Peace Officer. He lives with his wife who is an EMT and son who is a Jr in High School in East Texas. Craig has many diverse interests but really enjoys teaching others about Firearms, Outdoor Skills, Plants, and Wildlife.

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19 Comments

  1. Donald Holman

    There are several good books on the market on the use and care of cast iron Dutch ovens and very little practice is required to master the skill. Two of the books that I like are Dutch Oven Cooking by John Ragsdale and Texas Treasury of Dutch Oven Cooking by Lone Star Dutch Oven Society.

  2. John

    Thanks for the reminder about the versatility of the Dutch Oven. As a Boy Scout, I remember my dad making peach cobbler for desert, on quite a few camp outs. I dare say, it was better than in a regular oven at home. We learned to build a good fire using fallen wood from the surrounding area. Set it in a bed of coals & put son on top. Good food & good memories!

    • Rick

      I bet your son got a good warming also. Need to check your spelling. Instead on son on top it should have said some ( of the hot coals ) on the top of the oven.

  3. JimS

    I haven’t tried the “Premium Idahoans” but I have have the Betty Crocker brand and find them quite good — down side it takes milk and margerine in the recipe. The only thing missing are the “chunks” of potato.

  4. DAVID WEISS

    Though smaller, the Israeli Wonder Pot is, lighter, easier to maintain, much easier to pack, and extremely versatile. The main problem is finding one.

    • DAVID WEISS

      My grand daughter just bought one for me in Jerusalem, Israel. Good luck to the rest of us to find one more conveniently.

  5. I have 3 of them….two different sizes….no 12 is one most often utilize…often uee two at a time…one to cook dinner..other for baking …!!I cook ove a campfire, in a campfire, on a stand with fire under and on top of covers…etc. Pot roast with a variety of vegs is first choice of meal….cooked all day over campfire and then placing biskets on top of it and baked wih the cove on the over just beore serving.

    one of my overs has never been in the water…..for wasing…never use soap if you do wash them….ummmm! great food…!

    1

  6. I have dutch ovens…2 are number 12 and one larger one for bigger numbers of people to feed….! cook mainly on campfire but also have a cooking stand for very slowing cooking at home or camping. Pot roast is the a ist choice of an all day slow cooking meal with lots of vegs in the oven and finished off with baking doe on its top before serving time. ummm!

  7. richard1941@gmail.com

    I don’t think a dutch oven is appropriate if you are on the move. Like other cast iron cookware, it is bulky and heavy. However, it is great for a fixed base. Other modalities include the cast iron skillet and the Communist Chinese wok. Both of these use the same “seasoning” techniqe for anti-stick and corrosion protection. pr

    On the move I tend to limit “cooking” to whatever can be made with boiling water. Less cleanup problems that way. My favorite trail dinner: home made smoked salmon jerky. Recipe provided upon request.

    • Kitty

      I would love to have the recipe for smoked salmon jerky!

    • Rick

      Would love to have your recipe for smoked salmon jerky. have never tried any fish jerky. Rick. saltyraw@insightbb.com

  8. Steve

    My wife and I only cook in cast iron but we’ve found lard to be the best way to season it. Wash in really hot water then put it on a warm cooking surface to dry, then rub a thin layer of lard all over the inside and let it dry.
    And on a side note, look for the book Cooking With Lard. It’s much better for you than the vegetable oils.

    • Hello Steve and wife:

      Oh the joys of pioneer coking and hard times might require this kind of a one-pot dinner on a firepit out of doors.

      I started a note but my PC seems to have a mind of my own so this is my continued note.

      My question is: “Is it possible to bake bread in it, besides the cornbread type dough”? I like to use lard in some cooking for seasoning and yes its great to prevent rust forming on the iron kettle.

      • Kenneth Fechtler

        @ Wilma, yes you can bake bread in a dutch oven. I make a sour dough in mine. but you can bake about anything in the dutch oven that you would do in your kitchen oven. Just have to adapt the size. And time.

    • Rene'

      Just read a book entitled “Lard ( your grandma’s secret ingredient)”
      Have tried some of the recipes, and with a little more experience, things will taste just like they used to!

  9. Kerry

    U can find some awesome dutch oven recipes at the Boy Scouts Of America web site!

  10. Great Grey

    There are many dutch oven cookbooks out there some very good, some bad (many of so call bad ones assume that you know how to cook in a dutch oven) but, even the bad ones may have a recipe that works for you, or a tip on how to do something that fits your situation.
    Also, some of the newer cookbooks are for fancy modern dishes that call for items that your not likely to have in a survival situation. Fine for learning to cook, just don’t forget to learn how to cook basic food items.

  11. DHConner

    It took me about 50 years to learn that unless you can afford the $400 French copper pots and pans, your best bet is cast iron. Now, I must say “you done a naughty!”. I started looking at Lodge’s site, Cabela’s, ProBass, and Scheels. Then I thought about Wally World. What a bonanza!! By looking under kitchen and housewares I found a bunch of stuff. Then I said “Hey!! what about outdoor and camping. Wow!! Everything you could possibly want, although I haven’t actually checked it item for item against the Lodge site. But the prices are right, so now I have something else to collect besides rocks and exotic woods and Dremel tool accessories and tools from garage sales and a bunch of other stuff. And some of this equipment looks like you could roast half of a hog in it. You done good here on this one.

  12. DHConner

    LARD!! LARD!!! Not Pam or cooking oil or olive oil but lard. All we do is rinse it with very hot water wipe it dry, pour some salt inn the pan, use a paper towel to scrub it up a little, put it on a warm burner, and rub it with –yep–LARD. There are chemical differences between various oils and lard. My Great-Grandma and Grandma used lard and so did my Mom and my wife’s mother and her mother and all our various aunts and great aunts. I’m just a young ‘un of 66, but lard was good enough for them, and it works well for me. Kind of like a pie crust: Crisco is pretty good, but a genuine lard crust; now THAT’S the real thing, not the cardboard crud you buy at the store and empty a pre-mixed can of goop into.

    No offense to you oil user’s intended. To each his or her own.