When it comes to cooking over an open fire, almost anything can be achieved. The first items that come to mind are meats and vegetables that can be roasted or grilled. However, what about a hearty soup, stew, or rich dessert? This is where a dutch oven can be used to expand the open fire cooking experience beyond, burger, brats, and corn on the cob!

What is a Dutch Oven?

Dutch ovens are sturdy cooking pots with lids that date back to the early 1700s in Holland. In fact, Americans have been using dutch ovens since the American Revolution. They can even be traced back to George Washington and the troops at Valley Forge in 1776. When Americans started moving west, the dutch oven took on even more popularity as a sturdy, reliable way to cook food over an open fire while making way deep into the North American frontier.

Traditionally, a dutch oven is made of heavy cast iron with a matching tight fitting lid. Some have a wire handle for lifting or hanging the pot it from a tripod over your fire. Some are even made specifically for campfire cooking with feet that allow it to sit directly over the burning embers.

Any Cook Source Will Do

Dutch ovens are very versatile cooking tool. If you have a cook source, then you can use a dutch oven, including:

  • Campfires
  • Fire Pits
  • Fireplaces
  • Stovetops or Ovens

No matter the heating source, dutch ovens can be used to cook from soup to dessert, all you need is a little imagination and perhaps a good recipe!

Caring for Cast Iron

Some dutch ovens are made from aluminum. However, dutch ovens that are used over an open fire are usually made from cast iron. Caring for a cast iron dutch oven means keeping it “seasoned”. This does not mean scrubbing it out with soap and water. Seasoning means using it and wiping it clean after each use.

The good news is in regard to seasoning is, the more you cook, the longer and better the dutch oven will be seasoned. But, if you do not use a dutch oven very often, it is necessary to re-season the cooking interior from time to time. That involves cleaning the dutch oven, rubbing it with cooking oil and heating it in an oven in 300 degrees for 1-2 hours.

Another great thing to note about dutch ovens is they can always be used, not matter how “bad” they look. So remember, don’t overlook that broken down looking dutch oven you find at a flea market or garage sale. Clean it up, re-season it, and find a great dutch oven recipe to use the next time you fire up a campfire and/or fire pit!

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