Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cleaning and Storing Your Dutch Oven

I just recently bought my first Dutch oven. For a long time I thought A Dutch oven was just a big soup pot with a lid, I had no idea they were cast iron. 

I'm quoting from an article on Old Fashioned Living called Cleaning and Storing Your Dutch Oven:

Dutch Oven care begins with seasoning, but it's important to clean them properly after each use. Cleaning cast iron is easier than scrubbing pots and pans. As soon as possible after using your Dutch Oven, scrape out as much food as possible with a plastic scraper. Put 1-2 quarts of hot water in your oven and scrub with a plastic scrubbing pad or a vegetable brush. DO NOT USE SOAP of any kind or you will wash off the seasoning and have to start all over again. (See comment below from a reader)

Immediately after washing, dry the oven thoroughly by putting it in your kitchen oven at 150 to 200 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Cast Iron can only be dried by heating. Heat dries out the moisture in the pores. If a pot is not completely dried after it is used, it will rust. The pores must be opened by heating up, and the moisture dried out of it. Don't let the oven set around after washing, go straight from draining the rinse water into the kitchen oven if possible. If you are camping and don't have a kitchen oven to dry a Dutch Oven, dry it the best you can and try and store it away from moisture.

Dutch Ovens, when cared for, will last for generations. Be sure your oven has been cleaned and lightly oiled before putting it away. Try to keep your ovens in a dry, warm place. Remember, moisture with cause cast iron to rust. Leave your lids slightly ajar, allowing the air to circulate. I like to store with a paper towel rolled up and sticking out from under the lid. The towel inside the oven acts as a wick and will help absorb moisture.

From one of our readers, Max:
One should NEVER use any kind of Soap to clean or wash cast iron. Hot water only, steel wool if you must, but never any kind of Soap or astringent. Hot water and heating in the oven will kill whatever Bacteria may exist in Cast Iron. Over sixty years I have been handling Cast Iron in just this way, and have never been sick a day in my life. Soap and other astringents will destroy the seasoning of the Iron, and cause it to cook unevenly, and eventually to rust, even if it is properly dried.

~ Max Davis, Chef, Eatwell Cafe

Right you are Max! For more tips on caring for cast iron and some great recipes, go to Cast Iron Cookware.

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