Kampsite Cooking:

Cooking with a Dutch Oven: Do‘s & Don’ts

Dutch ovens used to be a lifesaving necessity, keeping pioneers and explorers warm and fed in days long gone. Today they are a culinary blessing for many campers. With a Dutch oven, you can cook and serve delicious fare any time of the day — no electricity needed! Use the following tips to get the best out of your cast iron Dutch oven while avoiding the worst on your next camping trip.

Top Camper Tips for the Best Dutch Oven Cooking

  • The fit of the lid is important. Make sure the lid is secure so that moisture and heat can do their jobs in making your food as tasty as it can be. Resist the temptation to sneak peeks on the progress of your meal, as valuable heat escapes every time you lift the lid.
  • So, how can you assess how your meal is coming along if you can’t lift the lid to look? Use your senses, such as smell, sight and touch to assess the environment. For example, if temperatures are in the 80s, your food is likely to cook quicker than it did three months ago when temperatures were in the 40s. Winds can also affect cooking time.
  • Speaking of the lid, store your oven in a dry spot with the lid in place. However, do use a paper towel to keep the lid slightly up so air can circulate. Another paper towel (or some newspaper) inside the oven will help with moisture. Last, but not least, placing a pillowcase or another covering around the oven will help prevent bugs and other animals from getting in.
  • Seasonings enhance the flavor of your food and can make for nonstick cooking and easier cleaning.
  • Cooking with a Dutch oven is accessible to everyone. While it is more of an art than a science, do give yourself plenty of time. Good Dutch oven cooking can’t be rushed. If you have only, say, 15 minutes, you should probably opt to try something else.

Top Camper Tips for What NOT to Do

  • Remember the seasoning tip above? Cooking oil is great to use, but avoid margarine, butter and their substitutes.
  • The taste of melted silicone or plastic should not be a part of any meal, so avoid utensils made of these materials when cooking with your oven. Opt for metal or wood instead. (Bonus: Wood utensils are light!)
  • To prevent your beloved oven from cracking, avoid putting cold water into it. Also, to prevent injuries to your hands, don’t touch your oven even if it’s only been cooking for only a short time. It may already be too hot to touch.