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How to Season And Maintain a Dutch Oven to Keep it in Good Condition

How to maintain and season a Dutch oven to keep it in top condition?

(By Sean Porat, (Oven cleaning guide)

Caution: These instructions mentioned apply for Dutch ovens made of cast iron or stainless steel. These pots were designed for cooking casserole dishes on an open fire.

However, there are modern Dutch ovens intended for cooking on domestic stoves. These pots usually have enamel or Teflon coating, and they should therefore be treated according to the manufacturer’s instructions rather than the way that a classic Dutch oven should be treated, as outlined below.

A Dutch oven is usually a thick cast iron (sometimes stainless steel) pot with a lid and three legs. This kind of oven is referred to by different names in different countries: Camp oven, casserole dish, potjie, phutu, cocotte, sac, etc. 

Since the pot is made of massive cast iron, the heat spreads evenly inside it, baking the food as if it were inside an oven. This is ideal for cooking casserole dishes on an outdoor open fire.cauldron full of water over flames

Usually, the oven arrives from the manufacturer coated in wax or shellac. The coating should be removed with hot water, soap and ScotchBrite. Don’t use steel wool to prevent scratches.

After thoroughly drying the oven with a towel, it should be seasoned. Open the window and turn on the hood since smoke can be emitted during seasoning.

lady leaning against ovenTo season a Dutch oven, peel off all labels, cover it with a thin layer of vegetable oil and heat it up to 300C-570F in a conventional oven for about one hour. The heat will cause the oil to harden and stick to the pot walls forming a protective coating (similar to Teflon) that will prevent food from sticking to its walls while cooking as well as protect the pot from rusting.

After the pot cools off, cover it with an additional layer of vegetable oil and store it with its lid beside it rather than on top of it (for ventilation and to prevent rust).

When using it for the first time, it is preferable to cook a fatty meat dish (not an acid dish containing tomatoes or vinegar) so that seasoning is reinforced.