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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Varsity Big Event - Dutch Oven Demos

I had this writted over a year ago, I never hit post.....
Here you go.

This past week, I had the opportunity to demonstrate the many, versatile, uses for the Dutch Oven, for 2000+ boy scouts and their leaders.  

We covered Dutch Oven Basics.... Starting with:
History of Dutch Ovens
 A Dutch oven, as we know it today, has been around for about 300 years. The Dutch Oven as it is known was once called the black pot or cooking cauldron. Early reference to the black pot came to be found in the Old Testament. Columbus actually brought the black cooking pots with him when he was coming to America. In 1620 the pilgrims cook with them hanging from the beams of the ships. The fires were built in sand pits and used on calm sailing days. This was easier than trying to use stationery pots that would slosh around with the movement of the waves. A Dutch oven is merely a cooking pot with a tight fitting lid and is usually made of cast iron, but is also made of enamel, clay, ceramic, and aluminum.

 Why, is the Dutch oven, called a “Dutch oven?

Until the start of the 18th century, iron was cast in baked loam or clay soil. This made for a rough surface and the mold generally broke while being removed. One casting was about all they got from the mold. For many years, foundries were more advanced in the Holland area, the ovens that the Dutch made had a smoother surface than those that the Europeans produced. Their secret was to use dry sand as the molds for the ovens, hence, the “Dutch oven” name remains to this day. The early pots were very thick walled and heavy. As people migrated to the New Colonies of the America, they brought the trade with them. In 1704, Abraham Darby traveled to Holland to inspect the foundries. From this trip, the sand molds were perfected, in 1708; he received a patent on the process and soon after began to produce large quantities of cast iron in the furnace at Coalbrookdale. By the mid-18th century, these pots were being shipped to the Americas.
American Dutch ovens changed over time during the colonial era. These changes included a shallower pot, legs to hold the oven above the coals, and a lid flange to keep the coals on the lid and out of the food. Small foundries could be found in most of the colonies after that. Most pots back them were identified by the round mark (a sprue) found where the iron entered the mold. Generally this was on the bottom. The gate or sprue as it was called left a protrusion on the pot or kettle but it made no difference on the hearth pots. Soon as the cooking ranges came to be, it became necessary to build one with a flat bottom for cooking on top of the stove or in the oven of the coal or wood stove. Paul Revere is credited with the design of the flat lid with a ridge for holding coals as well as the addition of legs to the pots.
Two major foundries made Hollow ware, cast iron in the 18th century. Griswald of Erie, Penn. and Wagner of Sidney, Ohio, both became household names and remain well know today, even though Griswald is out of business. Griswald remained the cast iron business until 1953. The Griswald and Wagner trademarks were sold to General Housewares. The trademarks were dropped and General Housewares continues to manufacture cast iron pots today.
Colonists and settlers valued cast-iron cookware because of its versatility and durability. Cooks used them to boil, bake, stew, fry, and roast. The ovens were so valuable that wills in the 18th and 19th centuries frequently spelled out the desired inheritor. For example, Mary Ball Washington (mother of President George Washington) specified in her will, dated 20 May 1788, that one-half of her "iron kitchen furniture" should go to her grandson, Fielding Lewis, and the other half to Betty Carter, a granddaughter. This bequest included several Dutch ovens. Some were called dinner pots, Gypsy pots, Bean pots, Stew pots, and Stock pots.
                Westward bound settlers took Dutch ovens with them. A Dutch oven was among the gear Lewis and Clark carried when they explored the great American Northwest in 1804–1806. Mormon pioneers who settled the American West also took along their Dutch ovens. In fact, a statue raised to honor the Mormon handcart companies who entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in the 1850s proudly displays a Dutch oven hanging from the front of the handcart.
The Dutch oven is also the official state cooking pot of Texas, Utah and Arkansas.
Mountain men exploring the great American frontier used Dutch ovens into the late 19th century. Chuck wagons, accompanying western cattle drives, also carried Dutch ovens from the mid-19th century into the early 20th century. 

Seasoning & Care

All New Dutch Ovens have a protective wax coating to prevent rust while shipping. Remove paper label, place Dutch Oven on heat (BBQ) to burn off the wax. This will remove protective coating. 

Lightly grease inside and out. Suggested oils are vegetable, solid Crisco, bacon grease, or lard because they offer a low burning point. You do not want the oil to pool anywhere while you are seasoning your oven, so be sure to turn bottom side up. 

Put your Dutch Oven upside down. Put the lid on the top of the legs. Place Dutch Oven in BBQ on Medium Heat until it turns black and burns the oil into the Dutch Oven.  You’ll want the heat around 500 to 550 degrees to burn the oil in. You will notice that sometime during this process smoke will come out of the BBQ for about 20 minutes or so. This is normal. Remember, you are burning oil into the pan. That is what creates the nice black look that you want. Your Dutch Oven will be extremely hot!!! After one hour, just turn off your BBQ and let the Dutch Oven cool by itself. This will take some time. Your oven should be a nice black color.

If the pans are not as black as you like, just redo the process on a little higher heat on your BBQ. Remember, you want your Dutch Ovens black not brown.....brown means that you need to season at a higher heat. 

Acid foods such as tomato sauce might remove some seasoning, just lightly oil after use, and place upside down in you BBQ for 30 min. to re-season. After use, Dutch ovens are typically cleaned like other cookware:  with hot water and soap. (There are many that will tell you do not put them in soap and water, however, read on….) After the oven has been towel dried, heat your oven to remove all humidity (not long just till all signs of moisture is gone), then it should be given a thin coating of cooking oil to prevent rusting.

Whether that should be a vegetable oil, Crisco, bacon grease, or lard it is hotly contested, that Saturated fats are more stable than polyunsaturated fats, which tend to go rancid more quickly.

Where possible, a cleaned and freshly oiled Dutch oven should be stored in a clean, dry location with the lid ajar or off to promote air circulation and to avoid the smell and taste of rancid oil. If the Dutch oven must be stored with the lid on, a paper towel or piece of newspaper should be placed inside the oven to absorb any moisture.

With care, after much use the surfaces of the Dutch oven will become dark black, very smooth, shiny and non-stick. With proper care, a Dutch oven will provide long service.

We then covered how to restore a Rusty Dutch Oven....

Rusty Ovens

What a great opportunity to share what I love with these young men. What was even better was to see them in action, at the cook off. 

Great teamwork and sportsmanship. 
Thank you to the Great Salt Lake Council for the invitation, we look forward to next year.  

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