High Temperature Cast Iron Seasoning by wuxiangyu


									                                    Dutch Oven Cooking

History of the Dutch Oven?
Black iron pots have been part of Americana starting with the early colonialists. So valuable were these
cast iron pots, Mary Washington, mother of our first President, listed the “cast iron furniture” in her
will. Black ironware was of grave importance to the day to day living of early colonialists. Many
family journals and letters listed the cookware preserving life during the winter.

When Lewis and Clark started their journey to the Northwest Territory from 1803-1806, the Dutch Oven
was listed as one of their most valuable pieces of equipment. The 200th Anniversary of this expedition
has the general public interested in how these men survived such an arduous journey. A couple Dutch
Oven companies have commemorated limited edition ovens to this historic event.

Just how did this camp cookware get the name Dutch Oven? One theory is early Dutch traders went
from door to door selling the European imported cast iron pots. New England was home to many
foundries, making cast iron items for every part of living. The Dutch traders peddled these items as the
US expansion continued, thus giving more stock to the legend.

Another theory can be found in a book called “Dutch Ovens Chronicled, Their Use in the United States”
by John G. Ragsdale (out of print). Ragsdale states that Abraham Darby traveled from England to
Holland in 1704 to learn about Dutch casting methods in sand. The Dutch were casting brass parts in
sand molds to mass produce vessels. When Darby returned to England, he experimented and patented a
process to cast pots in dry sand. He mass produced these pots and exported them to the colonies.
Ragsdale suggests that “Dutch Oven” comes from the process the Dutch were using to cast brass.

A common belief is that “Dutch Ovens” came from Pennsylvania Dutch settlers that used the black pots
and kettles.

Regardless where the name originated, the Dutch Oven is part of outdoor cooking across the country.
Hunters, campers, scouts, hobbyists, and even camp programs use Dutch Ovens as part of outdoor

Selecting the right Dutch Oven:
For outdoor cooking, it is most important that you purchase the “camp” or “outdoor” Dutch oven that
has the three stubby legs on the bottom and the flanged lid. The legs are necessary to allow space under
the Dutch oven for coals or charcoal briquettes and the flange on the lid to keep them from rolling off
the lid, therefore providing heat under and above the cooking space.

OVEN SIZE             OVEN CAPACITY                 PERSONS SERVED
8-inch regular             2qts                          1-2
10-inch regular            4qts                          4-7
12-inch regular            6qts                         12-14
12-inch deep               6qts                         16-20
14-inch regular            8qts                         16-20
14-inch deep               10qts                        22-28
16-inch regular            12qts                        Many
For those that want to cook on the kitchen stovetop or the oven, you should buy the DO that does not
have the flanged lid and the legs. The 3-legged DO will work on the kitchen stove and in the oven but
are harder to use and can cause damage to the stove.

What do I do next? Seasoning!
I have seen and heard scores of methods for preparing a Dutch Oven for use. This process is called
“seasoning”. And there about as many ways of going about it as there are people cooking. I’d like to
share with you my favorite method. I’ve tried lots of different ways of getting a new oven (or even an
old used oven) ready to cook and this method has been the most successful for me. Your mileage may

Note: There may come a time when you may need to re-season a Dutch Oven. Perhaps you run across
an aunt or uncle who has some old cast iron cookware hidden in their garage and you become the
recipient of a gift or beneficiary of an estate distribution. Your newly acquired cookware has been
hidden away in a garage or attic for some unknown number of years and is dirty and rusty and just not in
a usable condition. It’s not a loss…

                       High Temperature Cast Iron Seasoning

Figure 1 2 DOs season twice - one inside and one outside @ high temp.
Figure 2 14-inch DO seasond 2 times using high-temp method

Photos explained:

The 10" Dutch Oven in the first picture was finished inside the house in a regular oven at 350 degrees
for 1 1/2 hrs. The 12" was all done outside on a BBQ grill at 425 degrees for 2 hrs. The process was
done twice on each Dutch Oven. The first coat looked like a train wreck on both of them until I washed
them in plain hot water and warmed them up again to a point they were hot to handle. I then rubbed a
light coat of melted Crisco on both and repeated the same process 3 times. What you see is the end
results of that second seasoning.

Best results I have had:

The best results have been to wash the new cast iron in hot, soapy water twice until you are sure the
waxy coating is removed. Heat the piece for 5 minutes to make sure it is dry of water. Melt some solid
Crisco in a small pan and apply it to the warm iron with a clean, lint free rag, or a good quality paper
towel. Wipe off the excess on the edges. Excess oil will not carbonize on the surface and will flake off.
Place the Dutch Oven upside down in an outdoor grill (if possible, to cut down on smoke in the house).
Turn the lid upside down and stack it on the legs of the Dutch Oven. Regulate the heat to 425 degrees
and leave for 1 ½ hours. Turn off the heat and allow the oven and lid to cool. Apply another coat of
Crisco to the iron and repeat the process. You should have a good hard, black finish at this stage. A
third coat will enhance the finish to a point that you can cook anything in the DO without concern.

I have cooked cobblers and several other dishes without using a liner. Each oven cleaned easy with hot
water and a plastic bristle brush. I wipe it dry and apply a light coat of Crisco while the iron is warm.
Make sure to clean the ashes off the lid and treat it the same way. You are ready to cook again.

I have been doing a lot of experimenting on some old skillets I bought. I had to burn them off in a fire
and start over. I installed a temperature gauge on the gas grill to see what is happening. It is good at 425
degrees but it gets to burning off the finish at 475 degrees and it is a train wreck at 525 degrees. The
heavy coating drips and drains to the edge and pools, but doesn't carbonize. I found the light coats and
wiping down before you get too hot does the best job.

When something doesn't come out right, I want to know why. When I find out, I try to figure a way to
stop the problem.

How do I regulate the temperature?
Some Dutch Oven cooks use the “three up, three down rule” or “plus three – minus three rule”." For 325
degrees, take the size of your oven (8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, etc.) and double it. For a 12-inch oven,
you need 24 briquettes (12 doubled). Then you take 3 briquettes from the bottom and add them to the
top, thus 12 + 3 = 15 briquettes for the top and 12 – 3 = 9 briquettes for the bottom. To get 350° F, add
one more coal on both the top and bottom. Each two additional coals will give you about 20° F more

The chart below was provided by Lodge Manufacturing.

                Number of Coals per Baking Temperature for Dutch Oven Cooking
                                        by Lodge® Mfg.
                            Oven Size
                            (Second column is the # of coals on top/bottom)
                                8"                10"               12"               14"
                                15      10/5      19       13/6     23       16/7     30       20/10
    T        (slow)
    e        350°
    m        (slow -            16      11/5      21       14/7     25       17/8     32       21/11
    p        moderate)
    e        375°
                                17      11/6      23       16/7     27       18/9     34       22/12
    r        (moderate)
    a        400°
                                18      12/6      25       17/8     29       19/10    36       24/12
    t        (moderate - hot)
    u        425°
    r                           19      13/6      27       18/9     31       21/10    38       25/13
    e        450°
                                20      14/6      29       19/10    33       22/11    40       26/14
             (very hot)

When coals are 'hot', they are barely covered with white ash and you can hold your hand near them for
only 2 or 3 seconds. You can hold your hand near 'medium' coals for about 5 seconds. Low coals are
covered with ash. You should be able to hold your hand near them for about 7 seconds.

The objective is to get the oven hot enough to cook the food before it dries out, yet not so hot you can't
control the cooking process. In most cases, if the food is sputtering and popping a lot, the heat is too
high. Using the tongs, remove about one fourth of the briquettes at a time from the top and underneath
until the cooking slows to a steady simmer.

Which Charcoal do you recommend?
I have cooked lots of food in my ovens and have used several different brands of charcoal. Of all I’ve
used, I like the standard Kingsford charcoal briquettes the best. Don’t use the Matchlight charcoal as
they are pre-treated with a starting agent and they do not last as long as the standard Kingsford.

How do I clean my Dutch Oven?
This another decision you will have to make. There are more methods used to clean a Dutch oven than
there are Dutch ovens. Each one is just as good as the next, depending on the cooks preferance. There
are some methods listed here and you may choose the one you like or need.

With water:
Use hot water and a plastic scrubby. Using steel wool or metal scrubbers may remove or damage the
seasoning coating and require re-seasoning

Rinse with clear warm water and Return Dutch oven to the heat and allow to thoroughly dry.

Apply a thin coat of solid shortening with a paper towel

Let cool and remove any oil that has pooled in the bottom before storing.

Without water
Scrape well and remove scraps.

Heat Dutch Oven and burn off any leftover food.

Using a large wad of paper towels with solid shortening, wipe the inside, paying close attention to any
stubborn areas. You may have to replace the paper towels and do this several times.

When clean, apply a thin coat of shortening and let cool. If any oil has pooled in the bottom, wipe it out
before storing.

Some think you can just scrape out a Dutch oven and turn it upside down in the fire. Well, that is how
the early pioneers and mountain men cleaned their ovens, but a Dutch Oven cleaned like that can burn
out it's seasoning.

Scrape the oven out, and boil an inch or two of water in the oven to steam it out. This also gives you
time to eat with your guests.

After the oven has steamed a while, scrub it with a green scrubby pad or a soft kitchen brush and pour
out the water.

Then wipe it dry and coat it lightly with a high temperature vegetable oil while the oven is still hot.

How do I store my Dutch Oven?
Place a wadded up newspaper or a couple of paper towels inside the oven so they hang out a little. Then
place the lid on the oven and put it away. The paper helps keep the lid ajar to allow for air circulation
and also absorbs moisture from the air. You can use a box or a storage bag if you want.
Should I use aluminum foin in my Dutch Oven?
There are two maybe three distinct groups of Dutch oven cooks. The first group are traditionalists who
dress up in old costumes and re-enact life 150 years ago. At these activities Aluminum Foil can not be
used because clearly it did not exist back then.

The next group enjoys tradition, but tempers it modernism. They enjoy cooking with Dutch ovens and
especially like eating the food that tastes the same with aluminum foil or without it.

The last group makes use of the Dutch oven as a heating tool where pre-cooked provisions can be heated
up in the outdoors without the use of electricity. This is especially helpful in times of power outages.

This is a list of some pros and cons for cooking with Aluminum Foil:

Cleanup is made easier when cooking some dishes such as Dump Cakes and Cobblers, or anything with
high sugar content.

The Aluminum Foil can be used to more easily lift cakes out of the Dutch oven.

Some contests may not allow it.

Leave No Trace rules require that you pack it out. That is “garbage” that may have to be stored for
several days.

Any hole in the Foil can cause the cooking liquid to leak through to the Dutch oven and burn. This
causes a very difficult spot to clean and may be so sever that the Dutch may have to be re-seasoned.

There are some rumors going around that Alzheimers patients have high levels of Aluminum in their
system and some aluminum can be injested from the Aluminum Foil being used for cooking.

The Aluminum Foil can scratch the seasoning on a Dutch oven.

Some say that there is a lot of the cast iron/seasoning flavor lost when using Aluminum Foil.

The answer to your question is Yes and No. That is a question you will have to decide for yourself. It is
rumored that there are some International Dutch Oven Society cookoffs where Aluminum Foil is not
allowed. When you participate in any cookoff you should be sure to read and fully understand the rules
of play before you start.

A Few No-No's
-       Never, and I repeat, NEVER allow cast iron to sit in water or allow water to stand in or on it. It
will rust despite a good coating.

-       Never use soap on cast iron. The soap will get into the pores of the metal and won't come out
very easy, but will return to taint your next meal, though. If soap is used accidentally, the oven should be
put through the pre-treatment procedure, including removal of the present coating and then be re-

-       Do not place an empty cast iron pan or oven over a hot fire. Aluminum and many other metals
can tolerate it better but cast iron will crack or warp, ruining it.
-      Do not get in a hurry to heat cast iron, you will end up with burnt food or a damaged oven or

-      Never put cold liquid into a very hot cast iron pan or oven. They will crack on the spot!

What do I need to get started cooking in my Dutch Oven?
-       Hot Pads and/or Leather Gloves. Most any heavy leather glove such as welding gloves are
popular. The lids and bales on the DOs get very hot
-       Tongs with long handles (preferably the type with scalloped ends) These are ideal for
transferring charcoal from the firepan or starter to the DO
-       Lid Lifter (preferably a Mair brand) The lids can be lifted with pliers, claw-hammers or hot
pads. The Maier lid lifter is much better and control of the lid can be maintained
-       Lid Stand (or something to set lid on) Anything can be used to place the lid on. A lid stand will
help keep ash and debris from getting into the food.
-       Charcoal Chimney (can be made out of large can) or fire starters
-       Charcoal Briquettes
-       Matches and newspapers
-       Small shovel for moving large quantities of charcoal or ashes
-       Whisk Broom - to clean charcoal dust off top of lid
-       Seasoning agent such as solid shortening (Crisco), commercial off-the-shelf castiron conditioner
or cooking oil
-       Plastic pot scrubber

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