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How to cook with your Dutch Oven while camping

How to cook with your Dutch Oven while camping

A Dutch oven is a versatile kitchen tool that can be used for many different types of cooking, from braising and roasting to baking and even frying. And while it's true that a Dutch oven is a bit heavier and bulkier than other camping cookware, it's well worth the extra effort to pack one along on your next camping trip. With a little bit of practice, you'll be able to create all sorts of delicious meals in your Dutch oven, from one-pot wonders to homemade pizzas.

Getting Started with Your Dutch Oven

If you're new to cooking with a Dutch oven, the first thing you need to do is choose the right size. A 10" Dutch Oven (4 quarts - 2-6 people) will be big enough to feed four people, but if you're planning on cooking for a larger group, you'll need to size up accordingly to something like the 12” Dutch Oven (6 quarts - 6-10 people). Our Dutch Ovens are all pre-seasoned so you can hit the road the moment it arrives. However, it’s advised to season your ovens frequently so they don’t rust.

Cooking with a Dutch Oven

One of the great things about Dutch Oven cooking is that it's perfect for one-pot meals. Simply add all of your ingredients to the pot and let them simmer until they're cooked through. Stews, soups, and chilli are all great options for one-pot meals in a Dutch oven.

Another option is to use your Dutch oven as an outdoor bake oven. You can make all sorts of baked goods in your Dutch oven, from breads and biscuits to pies and cobblers. Just be sure to preheat your pot before adding any batter or dough so that it doesn't stick or burn.

One of the most versatile aspects of the Dutch oven is the ability to use it as a cast-iron skillet. By cooking your steaks, chicken thighs or vegetables in the oven you save yourself from oil and grease splattering. Another advantage is the lid, by turning the lid upside down you can use it as an alternative skillet as well.

Heating your Dutch Oven

There are a number of ways to heat a Dutch oven but most were primarily designed to be used with coals or wood embers over a fire. This way you have the ability to control the heat source and temperature throughout the cooking process. To bake or braise using your Dutch oven you need to be able to use a dual-direction form of heating ie. adding up to 70% of the heat on top of the lid with the remaining 30% of the heat underneath.

There are a few heat sources available and all have their benefits:

Charcoal Briquettes - using a briquette means you have a pretty stable distribution of heat and accurately estimate the heat and amount of briquettes needed depending on the required temperatures.

Lump Hardwood Charcoal - a popular source of heat amongst many thanks to its ability to burn longer and provide a longer source of heat. They are also less processed than briquettes but due to their irregular shape it can be a little tricky to estimate heat distribution. This can be managed by having some spares around just in case you need to maintain the heat.

Wood Embers - while a much more natural source of heat, using wood embers from your camp fire can cause some complexities. Depending on what type of wood you’re using you may not get as much longevity as others. If you only have access to soft woods then you’ll generally get weaker embers that don’t last as long compared to harder woods.

Cooking with Charcoal

If you are using charcoal briquettes or lump hardwood then we would recommend using something like a chimney starter to help get things going. A chimney starter shouldn’t break the bank but make sure to find one that doesn’t take up too much space. To use a chimney starter all you need to do is fill the chimney with charcoal and place the chimney starter over a heat source such as crumpled-up paper, kindling or natural fire starter blocks (available at most camping stores). We would recommend letting the charcoal burn for normally around 15-20 minutes. The charcoal will turn white once it’s ready so make sure to wait until they are all lit.

Seasoning Your Dutch Oven

Seasoning is important because it helps to create a nonstick surface and also prevents the pot from rusting. To season your Dutch oven, simply rub the inside surface with vegetable oil and place it in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at around 170 - 180 degrees C. After 30 minutes, turn off the oven and let the pot cool inside before using it.

Cooking with a Dutch oven while camping can be a lot of fun! Just make sure to choose the right size Dutch oven for your needs and follow these tips on how to cook with one properly. With a little practice, you'll be an expert in no time!

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