Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Back to: Home
December 16, 2011
Follow Home

Prairie Fare: Dutch ovens cook delicious meals in all seasons

Last summer, I tasted a variety of delicious foods prepared outdoors in Dutch ovens using white-hot charcoal briquettes as heat sources. You can cook everything from bread to stews, pot roasts, pizzas and cakes in a Dutch oven.

Ever since tasting that meal, I have wanted my own Dutch oven.

When I saw the cast iron cookware on sale recently in a department store, I couldn't resist buying myself an early holiday gift. I stifled my initial thought of wrapping the box and putting it under our Christmas tree as a gift to me from one of my kids.

This was a family gift because everyone will enjoy the food generated from this cookware.

When I arrived home, I removed our Dutch oven from the box and admired its red enamel-coated exterior. Some people would term my cooking pot a French oven. My cooking pot is meant to cook food indoors in an oven or on a stovetop. The first thing I made was beef and vegetable stew.

Next summer, I may be adding the outdoor version of a Dutch oven to my cookware collection.

My modern version of a centuries-old cooking pot resembled the cookware my ancestors probably used as they settled in America. Unlike the wire bail handle of yesteryear, mine has a chunky knob on top.

To preheat the Dutch oven, my ancestors may have inserted their hand and counted to determine the temperature. Counting to five slowly equaled a 325-degree oven temperature. I just have to set the digital scale on my oven or turn the knob on my stove.

Cast-iron Dutch ovens were developed in the Netherlands and then imported to England. Early colonists widely used their Dutch ovens, and many considered them prize possessions. Lewis and Clark included Dutch ovens as part of the equipment on their explorations from 1804 to 1806.

Cast-iron Dutch ovens are almost indestructible. Before use, they require seasoning, which is a process where you spread oil over all the surfaces of the equipment and heat it in the oven to make it resist to sticking food. If a cast-iron Dutch oven becomes rusty, it can be sandblasted, cleaned and re-seasoned. Enamel-coated Dutch ovens require no seasoning.

When I remove my Dutch oven from my cupboard, I will need to use my muscles.

These are not lightweight pots, but they're prized for their ability to heat evenly. People on camping trips value Dutch ovens for their versatility.

However, some campers choose to use aluminum versions that weigh less.

The outdoor versions of Dutch ovens have three legs and a cover with a concave section that allows you to spread coal underneath and on top. This allows you to create an outdoor oven to prepare a variety of foods.

One of the nutritional advantages of cooking in seasoned cast iron is the transfer of some iron to the food. Researchers have shown that some foods, especially acidic ones such as tomatoes and fruits, become higher in iron when cooked in cast iron.

Iron is needed to transfer oxygen around the body. The symptoms of iron deficiency anemia may include fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath and feeling cold. Too much iron, however, can be an issue, too. Be sure to let your health-care provider know if you experience any of these symptoms so you can have the appropriate medical tests and treatment if necessary.

Last summer, I tasted a variety of delicious foods prepared outdoors in Dutch ovens using white-hot charcoal briquettes as heat sources. You can cook everything from bread to stews, pot roasts, pizzas and cakes in a Dutch oven.

Ever since tasting that meal, I have wanted my own Dutch oven.

When I saw the cast iron cookware on sale recently in a department store, I couldn't resist buying myself an early holiday gift. I stifled my initial thought of wrapping the box and putting it under our Christmas tree as a gift to me from one of my kids.

This was a family gift because everyone will enjoy the food generated from this cookware.

When I arrived home, I removed our Dutch oven from the box and admired its red enamel-coated exterior. Some people would term my cooking pot a French oven. My cooking pot is meant to cook food indoors in an oven or on a stovetop. The first thing I made was beef and vegetable stew.

Next summer, I may be adding the outdoor version of a Dutch oven to my cookware collection.

My modern version of a centuries-old cooking pot resembled the cookware my ancestors probably used as they settled in America. Unlike the wire bail handle of yesteryear, mine has a chunky knob on top.

To preheat the Dutch oven, my ancestors may have inserted their hand and counted to determine the temperature. Counting to five slowly equaled a 325-degree oven temperature. I just have to set the digital scale on my oven or turn the knob on my stove.

Cast-iron Dutch ovens were developed in the Netherlands and then imported to England. Early colonists widely used their Dutch ovens, and many considered them prize possessions. Lewis and Clark included Dutch ovens as part of the equipment on their explorations from 1804 to 1806.

Cast-iron Dutch ovens are almost indestructible. Before use, they require seasoning, which is a process where you spread oil over all the surfaces of the equipment and heat it in the oven to make it resist to sticking food. If a cast-iron Dutch oven becomes rusty, it can be sandblasted, cleaned and re-seasoned. Enamel-coated Dutch ovens require no seasoning.

When I remove my Dutch oven from my cupboard, I will need to use my muscles.

These are not lightweight pots, but they're prized for their ability to heat evenly. People on camping trips value Dutch ovens for their versatility.

However, some campers choose to use aluminum versions that weigh less.

The outdoor versions of Dutch ovens have three legs and a cover with a concave section that allows you to spread coal underneath and on top. This allows you to create an outdoor oven to prepare a variety of foods.

One of the nutritional advantages of cooking in seasoned cast iron is the transfer of some iron to the food. Researchers have shown that some foods, especially acidic ones such as tomatoes and fruits, become higher in iron when cooked in cast iron.

Iron is needed to transfer oxygen around the body. The symptoms of iron deficiency anemia may include fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath and feeling cold. Too much iron, however, can be an issue, too. Be sure to let your health-care provider know if you experience any of these symptoms so you can have the appropriate medical tests and treatment if necessary.

Last summer, I tasted a variety of delicious foods prepared outdoors in Dutch ovens using white-hot charcoal briquettes as heat sources. You can cook everything from bread to stews, pot roasts, pizzas and cakes in a Dutch oven.

Ever since tasting that meal, I have wanted my own Dutch oven.

When I saw the cast iron cookware on sale recently in a department store, I couldn't resist buying myself an early holiday gift. I stifled my initial thought of wrapping the box and putting it under our Christmas tree as a gift to me from one of my kids.

This was a family gift because everyone will enjoy the food generated from this cookware.

When I arrived home, I removed our Dutch oven from the box and admired its red enamel-coated exterior. Some people would term my cooking pot a French oven. My cooking pot is meant to cook food indoors in an oven or on a stovetop. The first thing I made was beef and vegetable stew.

Next summer, I may be adding the outdoor version of a Dutch oven to my cookware collection.

My modern version of a centuries-old cooking pot resembled the cookware my ancestors probably used as they settled in America. Unlike the wire bail handle of yesteryear, mine has a chunky knob on top.

To preheat the Dutch oven, my ancestors may have inserted their hand and counted to determine the temperature. Counting to five slowly equaled a 325-degree oven temperature. I just have to set the digital scale on my oven or turn the knob on my stove.

Cast-iron Dutch ovens were developed in the Netherlands and then imported to England. Early colonists widely used their Dutch ovens, and many considered them prize possessions. Lewis and Clark included Dutch ovens as part of the equipment on their explorations from 1804 to 1806.

Cast-iron Dutch ovens are almost indestructible. Before use, they require seasoning, which is a process where you spread oil over all the surfaces of the equipment and heat it in the oven to make it resist to sticking food. If a cast-iron Dutch oven becomes rusty, it can be sandblasted, cleaned and re-seasoned. Enamel-coated Dutch ovens require no seasoning.

When I remove my Dutch oven from my cupboard, I will need to use my muscles.

These are not lightweight pots, but they're prized for their ability to heat evenly. People on camping trips value Dutch ovens for their versatility.

However, some campers choose to use aluminum versions that weigh less.

The outdoor versions of Dutch ovens have three legs and a cover with a concave section that allows you to spread coal underneath and on top. This allows you to create an outdoor oven to prepare a variety of foods.

One of the nutritional advantages of cooking in seasoned cast iron is the transfer of some iron to the food. Researchers have shown that some foods, especially acidic ones such as tomatoes and fruits, become higher in iron when cooked in cast iron.

Iron is needed to transfer oxygen around the body. The symptoms of iron deficiency anemia may include fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath and feeling cold. Too much iron, however, can be an issue, too. Be sure to let your health-care provider know if you experience any of these symptoms so you can have the appropriate medical tests and treatment if necessary.


Explore Related Articles

Trending in: Home

Trending Sitewide

Tri-State Livestock News Updated Aug 14, 2012 04:07PM Published Dec 16, 2011 10:59AM Copyright 2011 Tri-State Livestock News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.