Frequently Asked Questions
Heat sources for a Dutch oven:
will be happy to answer your questions about Dutch ovens, Dutch oven accessories,
Dutch oven cooking, or outdoor cooking generally. Simply send an e-mail
with your question. We will reply via e-mail with your answer. Just try
and stump us. If we don't know the answer we will get it for you.
A: In today's usage, the term "Dutch oven" designates a heavy metal, covered pot used for cooking. Dutch Ovens can be made of cast iron (very heavy) or of aluminum (relatively light weight). Most Dutch ovens today have metal legs to support the oven over the heat source. The lids of most Dutch ovens fit tightly into the bottom oven and have a rim around the edge to hold the charcoal or coals."
A: How to Season a Dutch Oven
There are many variations on the process for seasoning a Dutch Oven. However, they all have the same basic approach. The objective is to bake onto the surface of the oven a coating of oil, which becomes like lacquer. The seasoning does several things. First, it prevents the metal from rusting, second, it creates a non-stick surface making clean up easier, and third, it adds a delicious subtle flavor unmatched by other types of cookware.
Lodgeä Dutch Ovens come from the foundry with a thin waxy coating designed to prevent rusting until the oven can be properly seasoned. This coating will be washed off and any residue burned off in the seasoning process.
Most of the following instructions come directly from Lodgeä , with a few comments of our own.
Over time your oven will develop a hard, smooth, black coating on the inside of the oven. When you reach this point you will truly have a "seasoned" oven that you will not want to part with.
Q: How do I clean my Dutch oven?
For Most Dutch Oven enthusiasts there are a few "DO NOTS" when is comes to cleaning a Dutch Oven.
For best results, Dutch Ovens should be cleaned immediately after they are used. If needed, you can put some hot water in the oven to let it soak while you finish your meal.
Q: What is the best heat source for a Dutch oven?
A: Charcoal briquettes are the easiest to use and best for controlling the temperature.
A: Keep in mind the briquettes must be applied to both the top and the bottom. Use only quality charcoal briquettes for consistent temperature control. (We recommend Kingsford even though we get no commission for the reference.) The chart below tells how many briquettes to use for a desired temperature. As a rule of thumb to achieve 325 degrees use the following method. Take the size of the oven and take that number of briquettes less three for the bottom and that number plus three for the top. For example with 12" oven you would place 9 briquettes on the bottom (12-3) and 15 briquettes on the top (12+3). This works for Lodge® Dutch ovens and GSI Aluminum ovens.
Note: Adding one set of briquettes (one on top and one on bottom) will raise the temperature of the Dutch Oven approximately 25 degrees. Or conversely removing one set of briquettes will lower the temperature by 25 degrees.
For the MACA Dutch ovens more briquettes are needed to compensate for the depth and thickness of the ovens. Take the diameter of the MACA Dutch oven and add three briquettes for the bottom heat. Then add six to the diameter of the Dutch oven to get the number of briquettes for your top heat. This gives you a temperature of about 325° F. For example with a 15" Dutch oven your will need 18 charcoal briquettes for the bottom heat and 21 charcoal briquettes for the top heat to achieve a temperature of 325° F.
A: With a little know how and practice you can learn to effectively use wood as a heat source without cremating your meal. The best type of woods for cooking are hardwoods such as hickory, oak, mesquite and hard maple. Pecan, walnut, and Osage orange would also work. Not all hardwoods produce good coals.
Soft woods such as pine, poplar, and cottonwood don't make good coals for Dutch oven cooking because they burn hot for a short period of time, and then burn out quickly.
Start the hardwood fire at least 45 minutes before you need to start cooking. If you use a "Key Hole" fire ring (see drawing) you can keep a fire going at the circular end and move the coals to the long thin end to cook.
Try to keep the wood coals a uniform size. Use a long handled shovel to move the coals where you need them. Put about twice as many coals on the lid of the Dutch oven as you put on the bottom of the oven. It is best to arrange them in a ring around the outside edges of the pot. Don't over do on the amount of coals you put on and under the Dutch oven. Check your pot about every fifteen minutes to determine the doneness of the food. After checking the food, move the lid a quarter turn one direction and the pot a quarter turn in the opposite direction to avoid hot spots. Wood coals do not burn as long as charcoal briquettes so they must be replenished often.
Ideas taken from J. Wayne Fears' book The Complete Book of Dutch Oven Cooking.
A: The following chart will help you decide what size of Dutch Oven you will need to serve various group sizes.
Reprinted with permission from "LOVIN' DUTCH OVENS" by Joan S. Larson pages 10-11