Proper Dutch oven care will ensure use of your oven for many generations to come. Here are the 3 basic guidelines I follow for complete Dutch oven care:
1. Cleaning your oven
I find that Dutch oven cleaning is even easier than cleaning regular cookware. The cleaning process requires only two simple steps, which basically entail the removal of food remnants and maintenance of the protective coating.
2. Stripping and re-curing rusty or rancid ovens
Sooner or later you'll find you need to strip and re-season your Dutch oven, either because its rusting or it's beginning to turn rancid.
One convenient way I've found of doing this, and by far the easiest, is by placing it face-down in a self-cleaning oven with the lid up on the legs and setting the oven to self-clean mode for two hours. Allow to cool completely before removing. You should keep windows open and the kitchen well ventilated.
If you don't have a self-cleaning oven, or prefer not to heat it, you can accomplish the same thing using an outdoor propane stove over a medium flame. If you opt for this method, place the oven face down over the flame for about 10 minutes, moving it around over the burner so that every surface receives an appropriate amount of heat. When the oven is hot, increase heat to maximum and let the oven heat until it has smoked heavily for about 5 minutes. Continue by rotating and heating another surface. Ensure that you heat both inside and outside the oven. When you are done, remove from heat and allow to cool slowly.
Once you have completed the process and the oven has cooled, you must remove the accumulated gunk before re-seasoning. To do this, scrub the oven with some steel wool under hot running water until clean, wipe down with a paper towel and allow to air dry.
Re-season as described in section 2 of on the 'How to cure a Dutch oven' page.
3. Storing Your Dutch Ovens
In storage, your Dutch oven should be kept with the lid slightly ajar to ensure air circulation. You can accomplish this by covering the inside rim with a paper towel or napkin so that its edges slightly exceed the rim, and then placing the lid on top. You can also lodge a small piece of wood under the lid. The paper towel will absorb humidity in the air, which can turn the protective oil coating rancid and permeate the pores of the metal, turning any future food cooked in it inedible. In the event the oven has turned rancid, strip it and re-season.
I store my ovens in a protective cloth covering to keep away dust and to prevent anything that may brush up against them from getting dirty, or the ovens from being scratched.
Follow these 3 simple steps and you will improve your dutch oven cooking and chances of preparing the best meal.
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Now that you've read all the tips and techniques, it's time for you to try your hand at preparing some dutch oven recipes.