Cleaning a Dutch Oven
There are a few tricks to cleaning a Dutch oven. While you want to clean it after use, you don't want to damage the seasoning that has built up through the many times you've used it. These historical pieces of cookware were designed for easy use and clean up. Its durability depended on the care that was given to it during cleaning and storage.
When you cook with your Dutch oven, you want to be sure and clean it while the pan is still hot. If you must wait until after you eat, you can put some hot water in the Dutch oven to soak it briefly while you eat. When you are cleaning the Dutch oven, use a plastic scraper to carefully remove any food residue from the oven. Add a little warm water and use a soft dishcloth to finish cleaning out the inside of the oven.
You can also use a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water to clean out your Dutch oven. Just pour the liquid in (make sure it is not cold) and wash with a sponge or soft scrub brush. Dump out your wash water and rinse with warm water.
For particularly difficult food residue, you can set the oven back on the coals for twenty minutes or so. Doing this should turn some of the more stubborn bits of food into ash so it will clean more easily. Use a paper towel to completely dry the Dutch oven.
Alternatively, you can warm the Dutch oven on the stove or in the kitchen oven to evaporate all traces of moisture. Take another paper towel or soft cloth and apply another thin coating of oil over the entire Dutch oven, inside and out. Don't forget to do the lid as well. Wipe away any excess oil.
Storing your Dutch OvenTo store your Dutch oven, place a paper towel under the lid so it hangs out a bit to absorb any excess moisture and oil. The paper towel will wick away any moisture and prevent your oven from rusting. This also allows some air to circulate inside the oven. Place your Dutch oven where it will be safe from moisture between uses. If your Dutch oven remains in storage for awhile, you may want to do a quick seasoning when you take it out for the next use.
Things to Avoid When Caring for a Dutch OvenThere are also a few things you should never do when cleaning a Dutch oven. First, aside from the very first washing before seasoning your Dutch oven, never use soap or detergent on your cast iron. It can leave a soapy flavor that might taint your food. Soap can also damage your non-stick seasoning layer. If this happens, you need to scrub it all off and begin seasoning all over again. Do not try cleaning a Dutch oven with a metal scraper or scouring pad. This will at the very least damage the seasoning layer that youve worked so hard to build up. At the worst, it will remove large portions of your protective layer. If this happens, the oven must be reseasoned from scratch. Do not put cold water in a hot Dutch oven because the extremes in temperatures will cause the iron to crack. Cracking will ruin your Dutch oven and render it useless. Do not clean your Dutch oven by holding it over the fire to burn out any remains of food. This technique might cause your oven to crack or warp. Cracking and warping will ruin your oven. Do not sandblast your Dutch oven to clean it. This method will ruin your seasoning and you'll need to begin from scratch again by removing what remains of this layer. Once it has been removed, you'll need to start your seasoning process all over from the beginning. Now that you know what to do and what not to do with your Dutch oven, try out a few recipes. Dutch ovens cook beautifully and create a wonderful, smoky flavor. Before you know it, you'll be hooked on using these historic cooking dishes to create amazing meals for your family.
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